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(See also: 'mathematical sculpture' with paper tape )
My interest began by accident. When our children were young, we took them to 'The Summer University'. It was an activity based holiday run at Loughborough University. The courses you could do were very varied (from yoga to making violins, from local history to painting, from water sports to model engineering, ...). The children also did their own thing, which they loved. I wasn't sure what to do the first time. Nothing took my eye, but the course on metal sculpture mentioned welding, which I thought might be useful to learn, so I signed up. It was an excellent course, and although it included some welding to produce art out of scrap metal, a lot of the time was spent casting bronze sculptures. We used the 'lost wax' process. Make a wax model and encase it in plaster, then heat the plaster so the wax melts and runs out. Pour in molten bronze. Let it cool, remove the remains of the plaster, clean up your sculpture (repairing any bits that didn't cast properly) and polish as required. It sound easy, but it was quite hard work.
The results are all round the house, and some of them are shown in the pictures here.
The griffin is a 3-D version of the emblem of my old school (Brunts School, in Mansfield). The eagles and dragon are subjects I like. I presented the two trophies for the striking competitions of my local bellringers (Sonning Deanery ). The dog is made out of bits of old machinery welded together. The spring tail wags if you push it, and also acts as a useful holder for a walking stick in the hall. The hang glider pilot is cast bronze, and the glider is made out of welding rod. I was trying to learn hang gliding at the time, but I gave up a few months after I made this.
I also cast several things in aluminium, using the 'lost polystyrene process'. Make a model out of expanded polystyrene and pack it in foundry sand. When you pour in the molten metal, the polystyrene turns to smoke, which disappears into the sand leaving a cavity of the desired shape. You can even see the pattern of the polystyrene grains on the surface of the cast metal object, as shown in the only example here, which is the 'spider' used to pull up the bell ropes at All Saints Wokingham when they are not in use.
The dog is made from 'found' pieces of scrap metal. The 'snoopy' has a practical use as a boot scraper (heavily used in the picture).
Click on images for larger version.
All material Copyright © 1980 - 2007 John Harrison.
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