Thursday, October 24, 2013

forging: pachamama's face

Today was my first time forging.
Super fun, but a lot of physical work.

I started by cutting a 1'x1.5' sheet of 18g steel for the head

Using gloves and tongs, the sheet is set in the furnace (which is at about 2000 degrees)
getting the steel red hot to be formed.

Holding the steel in place with tongs over a wood stump, begin to hammer 
(using a ball pein hammer) the metal into the dip previously carved out of the stump.

Continue to do so while reheating periodically. The more times you reheat, the less
 time is needed in the furnace to achieve the same temperature. Above is the result
from forging, the rest of the face is worked on cold.

First I flattened all the large bumps by hammering over a steel ball for forming. 
After achieving a smoother shape, I used a variety of tools including
chisels and various metal forms to hammer over for shaping.

Working from both sides of the piece will give you greater control over the resulting form.
(i.e. pushing in the eye sockets from the front and popping the eyes out from the back)

And that's as far as I got today! A radical exploration of this new medium
and a solid reminder of how weak my arms are!
next time: should probably spot heat with a torch so I don't break my wrists off

 and that's what giant dirty man-hands are good for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

via thislate

pachamama project: steel feathers

my next big project in the metal department is a large wall piece dedicated
 to pachamama (mother earth in quechua). I have started with some loose sketches for design 
guidelines and material choices and have chosen to start with 18g steel feathers that will fall from her hair. 

I began with a plasma torch to cut the shapes out, then sandblasted them for cleaning and a matte
 look. I then used a dremel to indicate where I wanted to braze (melting bronze rod onto the surface of the steel). After brazing, the rest of the steel was blacked from the torch. To remove the fire scale and clean the metal I used the sand blaster again, however it is necessary to tape over the bronze 
beforehand to protect it- the sand blaster will not remove the bronze, but it will dull it the same as any other surface.

Once the tape is removed, voilà! Now it's time to add the details with the dremel. I used a 
diamond bit (which you're definitely not suppose to use), which sort of worked out but wore it
 down..I'm not entirely sure what would be the best. Keep in mind that unprotected sand
 blasted metal picks up finger prints very easily, so keep your fingers on the edges while
 working until a protective lacquer has been applied.

To finish the pieces, I chose to do a heat patina using a portable propane torch for a blue 
purple coloring. The lame thing about heat patina's is they are pretty much impossible to maintain. 
They always look so bright when created, but darken and dull fairly quickly. Not
 to mention they need some sort of lacquer finish to protect them- which in my experience, darken 
and dulls them immediately.

my favorite result: loved the way using excess bronze over already-cut areas filled it in
 completely keeping the texture intense but solid and smooth (pictured above)
what I forgot: use a wire brush after the brazing to remove any lingering flux and fire scale
(it will give the bronze a cleaner look)
for the future: maaaaybe try a 0 or 00 torch tip for more control? (used a 1)

torches, sparks, and dirty hands. yup it's a thursday!