Today concluded the first week of my metal casting class. I was excited for this class before it started, but after this week I am ecstatic! It has been amazing. We have yet to pour anything, that will be next Thursday, but we have worked on our first two projects. We will have a total of five projects completed by the end of this course, with the chance to pour 4 times. First pour is next Thursday. The next is Friday, which is optional due to the fact it is in Scranton, PA. The one after that is also optional; it is on Wednesday. We will be going down to a iron foundry in Richmond, VA to pour. The final time to cast is Thursday–our last day of class.
On to the projects. Our first project is a wax mold project. Tuesday was our first day where we were just suppose to play around with the wax. We melted huge pots down, learned how to pour it into a huge sheet to split up, and then molded however we wanted with our hands. When the professor first described the wax, I instantly knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a skirt that was in the shape of how it would look as a dancer would do a develope. So I started working with the wax after we poured a sheet and ended up thinking that it wouldn’t work in terms displaying it. So I flatten that part of the skirt down so it only had a mild flare. I was working on trying to smooth down all the bumps that had occurred in the folding process when my professor told me to leave it alone and start another. By the end of class I had made three different skirts with a different flare to each of representing a different move in the ballroom style of dance. One was a develope (my original idea), one was a ronde, and the last was the normal flare of a spin. They were really rough, but they are the start of the project.
I came in Wednesday and decided to at least try to work out the bumps with the heat gun. It worked wonders! The top surfaces and edges of the skirts and completely smoothed down. That took me about half of the class to do because I did the main surface of the skirts first, and I had to wait for them to cool back down in the fridge so that I would avoid drip marks while doing the edges. After the I had done the edges, and the skirts re-cooled in the fridge, I was able to cover the pieces in joint compound to prepare them for the molds. This took two coats and the rest of the class to complete. Because they take about 5-6 hours to dry, we were unable to do much more with them until today where we made the molds.
While I was waiting for the joint compound to dry between coats on Wednesday, our professor started to talk about the next project. We are going to make a design out of foam, then we are going to pack it in sand and pour the aluminum straight to to the bucket of sand. The foam will basically vaporize, leaving be hind the design for the metal to fill. The design cannot be larger than two fists high, so size is a huge limiting factor. My professor wants me to continue with this theme of movement and dance in my pieces. Currently I am stumped on what to do. I think I’m going to lean towards the movement of a Latin dress but I need to play with the foam and mess around with it to see how I can manipulate it.
Today we made the resin molds for the wax patterns. This involved a lot of heavy duty work for this little duty girl. First we had to take these bords and put them together so that they would fit our wax patters. We used a screw and drill to hold them together. I did not realize how much work goes into drilling!! Boy do I lack upper body strength. Then after we made the boxes, we made the sand-resin mix. This involved taking 100lb of sand and pouring it into this huge mixer (think big scary kitchen aid but the mixing part is on the bottom instead of over hanging), then adding an acid catalyst in to the sand then the resin. Then we had to pack the boxes with out wax patterns in it with this resin mix and let it set. One of my boxes had two of my patterns in it and that took about 75lb of sand! The other box had probably 30lb of sand. After they set we put them in the oven to melt the wax out so there will be a hollow cavity for the metal.
We pour next Thursday! Can’t wait to post about that! Below are some photo’s of the process.