Last month I volunteered to teach a class for a youth creative arts club and we made Ukrainian eggs. I haven’t made these for a while so it was a good excuse to try again.
I need to get a few more practice eggs under my belt, but it was fun. I bought 2 dozen duck eggs locally thinking that they’d be fun to work with. I tried some local chicken eggs – but it turns out everyone raises chickens that lay colored eggs and I wanted nice white shells. But when I did a search to see how to clean the duck eggs all I could find were articles telling me you can only wash them with water and if you wash them with soap or scrub with baking soda, the shells won’t take the dye well and they will wind up pastel.
I scrubbed that duck egg with baking soda, wiped it down with vinegar and then rinsed it. It seems to have taken the dye just fine. There are a few irregularities, but nothing I don’t also see in chicken eggs.
I spent a surprisingly long time arranging the berries. I may still go back and add the little hairs to them and possibly a shadow. It may not be noticeable, but each berry is a slightly different color because I wanted to make it clear that they were distinct even when they were on top of each other like this.
The hardest part of the thorns was getting the lighter color to run down the middle. I’m still not 100% happy with it, but after spending hours trying to fiddle with ‘mesh gradient’ until I gave up, I’m going to call this good enough for now.
Edit: here’s my soap label made from the above images.
Obviously just making horse HEADS wasn’t going to be enough so I made a wire frame and made a whole entire horse.
I don’t yet know how to do the fine details or smooth out the tool marks, but here it is. It’s about 6 inches tall. Once I had it made in modeling clay I realized that I don’t know how to cast this, even if I made a two part mold for two reasons. 1) the shape and 2) the only time I’ve done a two part mold I embedded the original in modeling clay to make the first half. This is made of modeling clay so what do I embed it in?
And finally, for a year-end wrap up, I made a gallery page of the ‘best of’ 2018.
I never finished cleaning up or posting my photos from France – I still intend to do so.
I also did a few more test paints of the chess set. This is blue, with a metallic blue finish and the Warder has his shield, helmet and sword painted with an ‘interference’ paint – it will shimmer green or red depending on the angle of view.
It has been suggested that I’ve gone a bit off the rails since I went to New Mexico to learn how to make SOAP MOLDS and this is clearly not a soap mold. But I learned something very valuable: making custom molds is expensive and I should definitely do everything I can to avoid having to make custom ones from silicone!
I’ve been puzzling over the size and shape of conditioner bars. I now have a formula I really like but I still need to settle on the packaging and the shape. I think I’m going to try a round column mold – I might make out out of PVC with a teflon liner – and since PVC comes in all sizes I can probably find one to exactly fit the 2 or 4oz tins I’ve been thinking of using as packaging.
One thing leads to another. I went to New Mexico specifically to learn how to make SOAP molds, but somehow that led to an obsession with the Lewis Chessmen, and while thinking of things I might like to 3D print or cast in resin, I started thinking about chess sets in general. Also: my artist friend suggested that my 3D prints will be better if I have some experience with sculpture, even if I’m not very good.
So what should I sculpt? The absolute easiest thing for me is going to be horses. I drew only ONE thing as a child and it was horses 24/7.
I took some polymer clay I had sitting around and some j-mac oil-based modeling clay I was given and went at it.
I first made a few reclining ponies. They are quite small – so small that I had difficulty handling them. The first is made of j-mac and the smaller one of translucent polymer clay. I was thinking of making them into netsuke – these are carved buttons or toggles that are worn with kimono.
Next I started thinking about designing my own chess set and I spent a while looking at classic sets and some 3D printed models. Except for the knight, most chess pieces look like they are turned on a lathe, but the knight is special and asymmetric. For my very first try (back left in the collection) I went for something semi-realistic, but then I thought a much more stylized version might be fun. At the end I started going for something like an ancient bronze statue I’d seen before.
When I took that basic shape and made it less flat, I think my result looks more like a sea serpent with a mane, but I still like it.
The polymer clay is easy to smooth and overall easy to work with but it is difficult to get fine detail. The j-mac takes detail but I haven’t yet figure out how to get my toolmarks and fingerprints off the model. I also need to figure out how to stop dropping them while i’m working.
While learning how to make molds I became accidentally obsessed with the Lewis Chessmen. We saw them first two years ago on our trip to Scotland and I tried to 3-D print one to make a test mold out of when I went to NM. The 3-D print wasn’t detailed enough and soon after I discovered that I could purchase pre-made molds. They are latex, not especially durable, and I’m a bit afraid to cast resin in them. I ruined one already by trying to cast wax into it and then couldn’t get the wax back out again.
The originals are from the 12C and were discovered on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. There are 78 chess pieces in total.
Last week I went to visit a friend in Albuquerque and pick his brain about how to make molds for soap and resin casting. There was a LOT of information all at once and I’m still organizing it in my mind. Here are some of the photos I took during the workshop.
This is the shop where he makes his molds. Lately he’s been moving more into metal casting than resin, and one March (this year or next) I may come to a metal-casting workshop. In the back notice the very large mold of the very, very large horny-toad. I loved that sculpture. On the back wall there is also a nice mold of the classic archaeopteryx fossil. I would have taken a casting of that if I’d had space for it in my luggage. As it was, I barely fit the molds I made myself plus the LARGE quantity of hot green chili I brought back.
I’m getting ready to make some silicone molds for soaps and here are my first prototypes for the designs I want to use. A trilobite, a ‘white lotus’ from Avatar the Last Airbender and the BAT SIGNAL. The last one is because I’ve really wanted to make a menthol-peppermint soap and call it “HOLY MENTHOL, BATMAN!!”
I mentioned the abandoned ships north of Jetty Island recently and discovered that a friend had never noticed them before. They were sunk to try to divert water in the channel back when ‘they’ were trying to turn the Snohomish south to make Everett a freshwater port. That failed, but the ships remain.
I took these photos 2 years ago when I paddled out to see them with a friend.