Medal artist statement

My Artist Statement for my medal:

 

The inspiration for my medal was a culmination of personal experience and a celebration of understanding. Understanding of self and understanding of where I am. The medal is a piece that draws from the heroes journey by Joseph campbell. The journey referred to by campbell as the “monomyth”. One myth that spans the entirety of all narrative. It is a theory that suggests all heroes of any narrative are the same but just have different faces, hence the title of his book The Hero With a thousand faces. For me the medal is to be considered a lens for viewing ones self through. The colourless windows on my medal not only form stairs to represent the climb and struggle of one on the journey but also various stages of the journey, to help one identify where they currently are on there own journey.

This medal signifies for me a huge learning process engaging in processes from 3D digital modelling, to 3D printing, laser cutting, wax casting, silicon moulding and bronze casting. these process largely for me were my first endeavours and certainly wont be my last. To combine methods thousands of years old with new and emerging digital technologies, this really speaks of my generation and the times we are all growing up in.

SketchBook Drawings, Medal Concepts & Ideas

Final Thoughts on my Medal

I would never say that this was a stress free process I certainly encountered my fair share of problems and frankly there was more than once I nearly changed the design all together.

Im really finding that the way I work best is in a sketchbook, getting my ideas on paper and visualising them, thats where I felt most comfortable.

My medal evolved a lot of the course of making it and i’m glad I wasn’t to stubborn to know when I needed to yield but also Im glad I trusted myself not to give up on what I wanted. I did have a conversation more than once about abandoning my idea and after achieving my outcome, I am especially over joyed!

From firstly conceptualising it on illustrator to having it laser cut on matt board. It really helped to hold it in the physical world. The Computer can only take you so far. And when I had eventually 3D printed it, boy did that help me see what needed to be changed, its size for a start!

It was good to go to big, I would have felt it, if my medal was at the point of no return and it was to small, so its good to know where I could push it.

Watching my design change over the course of the making process allowed me to get to know my designs better as well as the subject matter for my medal and also myself.

I got to understand what I am good at, and also being able to take an idea to completion is a great feeling!

Bronze Casting

I have seen this process before, here. and also several times in my dreams.

This is a thousand year old process, and I love how It being approached from this modern digital perspective with 3D printing and digital model making.

This is also a time consuming process, and made me feel that my wax cast was on life support sometimes, just because of the painstaking process of getting the mould ready for pouring.

Creating the wax for this pour was just so painstaking I simply didn’t have the time to make more than one, so I only had one good wax to use. great!

IMG_1532Once thats done, we stuck our wax medals to wax trees and created supports and risers for air flow. I shared a tree with Hannah who had a fair few casts to go from.

Some people had multiple trees and many casts and components as to get as many attempts as possible at getting the bronze right. Very un-encouraging to me with my single cast.

What followed this was the pouring process, which involved creating a fireproof shell over the wax trees. This was not an easy process and I proved that by breaking to off two the branches on someone elses tree, luckily they were repairable and no harm was done.

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The fans were used to help drying

This process of pouring was done about twice a day for a week, the eventual shells that were formed around the trees were thick and strong enough to now melt the wax out and be left with the negative imprint of the medals.

We now have shells in which to pour bronze into.IMG_1541

As we were setting up to heat the bronze I asked about how the bronze gets poured and how we can tell when the shells are full. The way it was described to me was that the bronze isn’t taking liquid form, its not filling the shell like a liquid its still a solid its just being pushed down and compressed by the weight of itself, though it does appear liquid like, this apparently isn’t the case.

So we heated the bronze up, it took about an hour to reach its melting point in the crucible. at this stage we were required to wear fire proof suits. We had to scrape the scum off the top of the molten bronze. then with two people carefully but quickly pour the bronze into each cast. Doing a pour myself I can say it is very hot even in the suit and it is not easy to pour quickly for fear of it missing the cast.

IMG_1623Luckily the pouring went well.

Getting to smash open the shells with a hammer after such a delicate process feel like a sin almost. But thats what we did next. And luckily for me my cast turned out perfect.

Over the moon!

Over the moon!

I cut off the risers with the angle grinder and started filing down the sides to get it all uniform and flush.

After sandblasting I touched up the detailing with the dremel and spent a fair amount of time on making sure the areas for the slabs were smooth and straight to fit the acrylic slabs. Sandblasting creates such an unusual effect, its like a lifeless gold it is such a powerful process.IMG_1648

There was unfortunately a little air hole on the side where the bronze didn’t get to, I was shown a technique to fill the hole. Dremelling a small slither of bronze, plugging the hole and then smashing it with a hammer, seemed to cause it to fill. Filing over the top left no trace its a technique thats thousands of years old I’m told. bronze hole

IMG_1677The last things I did were the quote which I stencilled on then stamped with some stamps and a hammer, not easy and unfortunately not as straight as i’d had hoped.

And the patina, Oh boy crushed for time when doing this, just an hour and a half left from the deadline I was applying the patina and it came out purple and black.

Luckily scrubbing with some steel wool, really brought it out, the patina really highlighted and defined all the detailing and made the medal look very characterised and dramatic, very pleased with the outcome!

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Wax Casting and Silicon Moulding

I have finally got my successful 3D print after much modelling on rhino and zbrush I can finally create my wax cast to start the lost wax bronze casting process.

silicon mold process

The process of creating my silicon mould left to right

Silicon is weird stuff, it literally gets in to every crevasse what your trying to mold it got into every section of my 3D print in spite of how thick and gloopy it is. I made my mould with a very fetching pink mix, the main reason for this colour was to make sure that the two part mixture combined thoroughly and fully.

It is also largely a waiting game, i had to wait a day to complete each half of the mould, creating registration holes with a pen helped keep the two parts aligned. i was in a bit of a panic when i did the second half as i had forgotten to create a spout hole to later pour the wax in. In the end i had to cut this hole with a scalpel. The end result of creating these moulds was a like for like perfect replica negative of my 3d print. It was very weird to see my medal almost inside out if you will.

Next came the wax.

Ah playing with hot wax, those were the days, I used to pour hot candle wax on curbs to skate them. Here I am years later, using it for something a bit more sophisticated.

This was a bit of a lottery for me, I didn’t have much control over how the cast would form inside the mould. I had issues with air bubbles or wax not reaching every crevasse in the mould. Sometimes I would lose alot of sharpness in the detail.

In the end I had to compromise, and settle on having a mould with a few air bubbles that I would have to manually patch up.

IMG_1415I ended up with a few good casts . I needed to start smoothing out rough areas, making sure everything  fit together I was working with millimetres here, I didn’t have much to forgive, things needed to be precise.

Wax is pretty hard to manipulate when its cold, so I used few scalpels and a candle to heat them up. I had a few different scalpel shapes and sizes to work with so I could get into the small areas and work them into shape.

I needed to get those platforms smooth and flat for the acrylic slabs that will eventually be stuck on. I went around each step and made sure everything fit perfectly.

medal-prog

I lasered out some test acrylic pieces and pushed them into the wax to get a solid fit.

Using some clay scraper tools I smoothed out the wax getting rid of the imperfections that the 3D prints texture left and then I started to work on the quote.

IMG_1422Through out this whole design process the quote was something I didnt really know how to tackle. I assumed I would just take my time and scribe it by hand. I had an idea to write up the quote in illustrator and put it in a box the equivilent size of the medals circumference. I increased the boldness of the letters then i lasered out the quote onto strips and used them as makeshift stencils. This worked great, to a degree, but it just didn’t look as good as I know it could have and I didnt have the time to think of another solution. So I decided to smooth it over after a few attempts and I think I may look into getting it professionally done.

update: leaving the quote on the wax a good idea!

IMG_1451In trying to repair the figures arm on my medal, I ended up chopping off his hand by mistake, so I had to perform some surgery on him.

I took one of the figures from one of my other casts, chopped it off, thinned it out and stylised the blank side with some energetic streaks. I then reattached the figure to my original cast with some hot wax.

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all in all im rather chuffed.

Arran Gregory Geometric Sculpture Art

I was looking for design inspiration for my medal. I had an idea of what I wanted but after doing a little digging I found these amazing sculptures by Arran Gregory. what I like about them is they have these natural eminence to them, but are formed very digitally and speak of our modern age.

I think the mirrored exteriors lend to that idea as well, I feel we can see our selves in these animals, changing them, removing there natural states in pursuit of our own endeavours as the digital age advances.

references:

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/08/mirrored-animal-sculptures-by-arran-gregory/