Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mersey commission

Update on progress:
Crocodile mounted on a linear bearing at top of stroke peering above the glass water line. Cutting and fitting the holes in the glass was a real adventure, using a Dremel with a diamond bur and a hose trickling over the work. It only took a couple hours to do all the holes in the 10 mm. plate glass but I almost lost it twice. If you see a little radial crack start (I had gotten cocky and went right through too early) you have to either drill a hole in front of it or follow it to the bitter end and remove it entirely. The secret is several fold - great care not to allow the bit shank to touch the work , and to cut round and round to an even depth. At half way you turn it over and before you finish leaving a straight run for the bitter end you have tiny holes all the way through all around. There is still a slump ahead to give it some ripples and general character
The frame is pretty much finished and there are a few small bronze mechanical parts ready to cast to finish the mechanism. These are quite a pretty little abstract sculpture out of machined wax without any intent other than practical - it has to fit in the flask for investment with sprues adequate for metal feed, to support the parts while joined in such a way as to make cutting apart easy and air to escape

Monday, October 17, 2011

Commission- Automaton

The individual figures were produced as per older posts. But putting it together is a bigger challenge as it has to work together in 3 dimensions and have a compositional integrity. So molds have been made of these figures (without wings for future possibilities) and then they were welded to the floor of my workshop in an artistic configuration, as close as possible with room for supporting columns containing a push rod for the wings to flap, and the sweep of the intended wings carefully measured for clearance with the other figure and the glass panels. It was then photographed for two elevations and a plan view and these were resized so as to be correct for the scale of the drawings and printed. At that stage the headroom could be worked out , the height of the metal frame, and the figures traced straight on the drawing by placing the drawing over the print on my living room window.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Commission

These are the main figures for an automaton. They have been made by welding up steel rods into armatures and then welding a cover of flat bar or whatever other parts are required. The duck's face is made out of two old stainless steel spoons and screws onto the body with a BSP pipe thread built inside. The modelling and mobile joints are worked through in this stage and then the driving machinery which is in machined and welded metal and forms a large part of the composition.

This little crocodile in mild steel will stalk two ducks which are just taking flight. His jaws snap as he rises up through an indicated waterline. The eyes are scrapped ball bearings and the sockets are a fragment of the original steel races. The teeth are short lengths of stainless steel which will not take the black stain that touches the rest of the body.

And here is my wife with the mostly finished figures to date. The body of the duck is made of mild steel like the crocodile and is yet to be stained and lacquered. The art deco tail is made of old table knives.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Gadarene Swine

The following three items are older works.

The Gadarene Swine is oil on masonite with a carved huon pine frame, 950 x1000. The story is that Jesus came to the land of the Gadarenes and was told of a madman who dwelt by the Sea of Galilee possessed of a demon. He went to the man and said "Demon, what is thy name?"
And the answer came; "We are legion." (which is to say there were a lot of them)
"Oh Son of God, cast us not into the abyss, rather let us enter yonder herd of pigs on the hillside."
And at that the demons fled from the afflicted man, entered the herd of pigs, which fled down the hill and plunged into Galilee and were drowned all 2000 of them and the Gadarenes asked Jesus to please leave their country.
As if the well- being of one madman was more important to the economy than 2000 pigs. The Gadarenes cannot have been very good Jews, for it is the law that no pig should set foot in the land of Israel. So the kibbutzim raise them on platforms these days. Here I am emphasizing the Malthusian connotations.

The Life of the Artist

Tryptych in oil on masonite. The whole thing is about 1100x2100 mm, the frame is white sassafrass.
The artist is born to the discomfiture of parents and family. It is after all not the sort of profession they would choose however it is suitable to misfits. Later he practices his profession, chases girls and comes to the notice of the authorities, who naturally hate them for some reason known only to tyrants. Perhaps it is a sense of humour. Finally he is publicly hung, causing only minor controversy. And even in death he still has a roving eye.

Towards Fuji

This a a 7 colour separation wood block print after Hokusai about the raid on the Aum Shin Rikyo poison gas factory at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The key block is huon pine, the rest were varnished 'craftwood'. Perhaps it was the paper but I couldn't get a water based colour to work, the paper just went everywhere so it was done with oil based printers ink.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Installation and finished pieces/elements -details of the three flying machines:

The fabric is a loose weave dacron finished with a water-base polyurethane floor varnish (same finish on all the huon pine animals).

The theme of the balloon is conservation of native animals, hence
the stencilled (eliminated) feral rabbits and cats.

Native timbers are huon pine mostly, the stringers on the balloon and the ornithopter are King William pine from the Lake Margaret pipeline.
The native cat is blackwood with huon pine spots made with plug cutters.

The pop gun stock is carved with the initials HAS on one side, 1945 on the obverse. When I was making it I thought it looked a little bit like a WW 2 rifle and so I made this item a tribute to my father who fought on Leyte and Okinawa with the 7th Division. He was wounded/decorated several times for ' gallantry in action'. That era is nearly forgotten now with the passage of time and diplomacy, hence the impotent little gun, but his platoon of thirty men turned over more than 5 times in a few months which is about the same as Australia's total casualties in Afghanistan to date.

The book held by the possum is titled 'The Path of Glory' and the visible title on the bottom book of the ballast parcel hanging underneath is 'Wombat's Nasty Secret.' If you want to know what it is (just look at the wombat, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth) you will have to buy the book or wait for the movie because it may be some time before the mouse gnaws through the cable.

The frame of the lunar module is welded aluminium with 1 mm. sheet wrapped around, glued and pop-riveted. The rivet heads are a steam punk touch and are glued over the pop rivets. They were made with a jewellers' punch and doming tool. The illuminated earth hemisphere is blown acrylic, the map of the South Pacific airbrushed on the inside with transparent 2-pack automotive paint, cyclone Yasi coming in from the east and a ferocious line of fronts heading for Tasmania. , Interestingly the grey features on the white clouds (sandblasted) are opaque white and illumination throughout is done with circular fluorescent lights. The heads in the lunar module are hollow cast polyurethane with a metallic spray finish. The three faces have the eyes of wolves and coyotes from a taxidermy supply and the hard part was casting them in place. The geese in hatchway with the fox are a pair of old drench guns from the recycler. This is in the leavers module, grade 6's heading off to grade 7. So there are inumerable disasters converging on the nation - I have taught grade 7 and this is my revenge.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Commission: Wooden Animals completed

Most of the sanding done with foam backed 2 inch disc and 220 grit at slow speed driven by a varispeed drill- fast tends to cut deep where direction changes occur. The Mouse started with a piece of 1/2 inch pipe, with darts cut out of it, hammered closed, welded with a wire feed welder. ground down and extraneous bits welded on. Just like working with wax except harder. The kangaroo will fly the ornithopter and as you see, ears have been added. All of them will have glass eyes glued in after varnishing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

stack laminating carving blanks

The body is pinned in position on a piece of auto body putty and by drilling and marking each new part (leg) for dowelling with the pieces in position, I have flat index planes at point of contact to work to.

Airship gondola details - nearly finished

Carvings are taking some time, sanding being the worst part of it all - with this system of creating the blank you are pretty much stuck with power tool carving because sudden grain direction changes don't work well with carving chisels. These can can be used (different style of course) to eliminate sanding with tooling marks the final smooth finish. On the other hand with lamination the grain can run in the direction of arms, legs, tails etc. which is very strong.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Part 2 of Romaine Park comission. The frame of the airship ready for fabric

Wallaby (ornithopter)

The pilot of this strange craft in stack laminated and carved huon pine. His eyes are glass, from a taxidermy supply in N. Carolina and supposedly for a lynx.