Monthly Archives: May 2015

Project 7 – results – part 1

There was a steep learning curve with this project, with plenty of failed attempts at casting – some through stupidity on my part, others through not being fully aware of how the materials react:

  • if you happen to be stupid enough to pour hot geflex onto wax, funnily enough it will cause the wax to melt!
  • silicone rubber needs a thixotropic thickener or it will just run off the item to be moulded, but it is brilliant stuff when you have the thickener.
  • it is really quite difficult to get your last two fingers out of an alignate mould if you curve them backwards!
  • for plaster only moulds, there can be no hint of an undercut and even without any, plaster moulding in plaster (in my experience) is a disaster!

Pretty much everything was worked on at the same time as it took so long to do some of these pieces (especially with multiple failed attempts along the way!).

Cast balls

The first piece to be finished was the result of an experiment with slip casting and casting internal spaces – yes, I did inadvertently follow some of the course notes in the end!

I started out by creating a two piece mould of a polystyrene ball in plaster:


I then poured in casting slip and rotated the mould until it has all solidified, then left it to dry for a few days (it broke opening it earlier) before opening the mould and drying fully. As it was a solid mould, the shape had no easy way of contracting as it dried, this resulted in a dimple in the shape which made it look as if it had sunk into something. I thought this could work with a different colour slip poured onto a surface and several balls sitting in it. So I continued casting balls as I was doing other things and I ended up with 5 hollow balls.

As I was creating moulds out of plaster for other work, I was often left with some plaster I didn’t need, so I started to pour this plaster into various plastic boxes with the thought that I could use them for something at a later date. Thinking about how to lay out the balls into a sculpture, these came in handy.

Some initial ideas for layout:

ballssetup1 ballssetup2 ballssetup3

The heights didn’t work on this, so I stacked two different plaster moulds and arranged the balls on this. The sculpture flowed in one direction, so I arranged the base on more plaster moulds to tilt it forwards so the slip would flow down through it. Layout:

ballssetup4 ballssketch6ballssketch2

I then diluted some slip (possibly too much), crossed my fingers and poured it over the top ball to flow down over the sculpture:

P1020979 P1020982

I had envisaged a thicker layer of the other slip and would have liked to have it crack in the way that Adrián Villar Rojas work does (maybe I should have combined it with earth?). However, the initial lack of cracking was actually due to it taking a very long time to dry out. When it eventually had, the slip dried in a sheet which sometime cracked and sometimes pealed up from the surface in a sheet (especially where the surface was non-porous on the base). Where it pealed up from the surface, I broke it into cracked pieces by pressing it back down again.

The finished piece:

Cast Balls 1 Cast Balls 2 Cast Balls 3 Cast Balls 4 Cast Balls 5Cast Balls 6 Cast Balls 7 Cast Balls 8 Cast Balls 9 Cast Balls 10

Clay, plaster, wood

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Project 7: Casting, internal space/external form – ideas

The course notes for project 7 did not fill me with inspiration!

I thought about some possibilities:

  • bottles spilling their contents – cast bottles, plaster bandage spill to ground, pour liquid plaster over. Similarly pour colours over top and let mingle where meet.
  • could try lining a container with wood/etc. before casting?
  • Metal/wood rods through bottles, seal with latex?, then cast. Could be messy if doesn’t work!

I couldn’t think of anything which would really get me fired up though and so, after checking with my tutor, went my own way, with the new brief of ‘casting a number of items’!

So, with the brief now wide open, it was time to think of some new ideas.


I was that time of the year when I first started looking at this and these seemed to offer potential. I struggled to think of how to arrange them into a sculpture (which wasn’t too literal) though. To my mind, they would also be best to cast in glass which might be stretching what I can achieve at this point.

S4 Sketchbook p1 S4 Sketchbook p3

Maybe an idea to sit on for now.


The doughnut shape of the bronze casting I produced on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park course gave me an idea for a Yarnbury mining sculpture:

S4 Sketchbook p6

Yarnbury Moor above Grassington is an area which was heavily mined for lead. Many of the early mines used bell pits of shallow mining. I’m not quite sure what the difference between these is, but they both seem to leave a similar shaped hole which is similar to the doughnut shape of my bronze.

My idea was to create a simple doughnut shape, cast it in wax, work on the surface texture, then cast it in bronze.

The course notes for this project say “What we must realize is that casting in metal is a very expensive and time-consuming process which, as students at this level of study, is neither practical, appropriate or economical, as many of the sculptors’ works would be paid for by patrons or institutions.” – The “not economical” I will get around by casting myself and on a small scale, the “not practical or appropriate” I will ignore!

As a first bronze casting in my back garden, the size would be small. As for surface texture, I thought it would be good to represent the ore seam running through the shape, as well as a map of the area. Yes, it is literal and I know my tutor is trying to steer me away from this work, but it appeals to me and fulfils the casting brief (several times), so I will pursue this one.

Researching this on the web, I came across a cartoon about turning lead into gold. I wonder if gold could be applied to a bronze by keum-bo, a process I have used in jewellery making to fuse gold foil onto silver using heat and pressure; a potential idea to try out. Otherwise, the seam could be represented using a different patina?


Try casting my hand in a flicking position like my sculpture in Stage 2, but mount on its own.

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There will be plenty for June, but nothing finished this month!

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A lot of work in progress, but not much finished.


Cast Balls 2 Cast Balls 7 Cast Balls 9


Residency painting 2

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Round 7: Bryony Miles’s sketchbook

I did quite a few sketches in this book, but unfortunately forgot to scan the pages before sending it back on its journey.

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