First Friday Show, Sept. 5th!

I’ve been neglecting the blog shamefully. However, in my defense, the time usually designated for the blog action has given way to getting things done. So, since last I wrote, I’ve completed several drawings for an exhibition opening this Friday at the KC Artists Coalition. Along with the drawings, I’ve prepared a preview of the installation that I’ve been working on for quite some time and that will be opening downtown in a few weeks. In fact, I hung the whole exhibition today. I shall give you no pictures just now. You’ll just have to come and see.

I will also be giving a “gallery talk,” i.e. the part where I stand up explain what the heck I’m doing (more eloquently). Each of the four artists will give one and I’m pretty sure I’ll be the first to go around 6:30 pm. I’ve done one once before and it went really well, so I shall certainly try not to disappoint.

So, here are the details:
Shows continue through September 26, 2008

on view in MALLIN GALLERY:




Kansas City Artists Coalition
201 Wyandotte
KCMO, 64105

I hope to see people there and after…?

"Boley" really finished & Oooh, podbabies!

Okay, so I forgot I wanted to add a blue tinge to Boley, and there were some berry groupings that…just…bothered…me. So, here we are…

And here are more podbababies on their happy stands. These are drying out and will be bisque fired probably next week. I took a kiln load to my favorite potter, Rebecca Koop, last night for their first firing. Yay for progress.


Step by Step: Leaf Molds

Here’s a change from the more complicated two and three part molds I’ve been making. This is the easiest kind.
Here’s what I started out with. Whenever I’d mix up too much plaster, I’d hurriedly shape it into a mound I then later file and wet sand into shape. You can see them next to unfiled shapes below. Basically, all you do is make sure there are no undercuts and pour plaster on top of them. The little one is broken because I took this picture after I pried them out of their molds. After I made the molds, then I’m done with these plaster leaves.


So now I have the negative of the leaf. I simply pour the slip in and let it set for a bit. By blowing on the edge of the casting you can guage its thickness pretty easily. Then the excess is poured out.
I don’t usually set the castings in front of a fan to dry until they’ve set for a few days. I think I must have been running out of room. However, after I take the leaves out, I do put the molds in front of the fan to dry out the water that the mold sucked up from the slip.

Once the castings become more solid than liquid, they shrink slightly from drying and release themselves from their molds. Now the leaves get some handwork. I just trim and smooth here and there. Pretty easy.


Here are some leaves in various states of drying. I also poke a hole in the round edges of the leaves for stringing.

And here’s a small mock-up of how they will look in the installation. Of course, they’ll be glazed white and the strands will be much longer.

Now I’ve shown several moldmaking demonstrations one at a time, but this is usually all happening at the same time. The image below shows several different things going on.
I have molds that I’m done with in the background. Everything on the rack is sitting in front of a fan. There are freshly poured molds drying out. There are molds that need to dry out in between castings. There are plaster prototypes drying out so I can make molds from them. And then finally, there are the actually castings drying out so I can bisque fire them. So, yes, I stay busy.


Boley Building – Mostly Finished

Here’s this one pretty much done. I’ll probably make some small adjustments here and there, but overall, that’s it. I’ll add a pic when I take the frisket off and get it sealed. The finished size is 36″H x 12″W x 2″D


Step by Step Mold for Multiple Castings

Since I need so many of my little “Podbabies” for the installation, casting them one at a time just isn’t feasible. So here I’m showing you the process of using castings from the initial single mold to create what I call a multi-mold. There’s probably an actual technical term, but ah…here we go.
So here’s the original podbaby mold, one of the first I made. I made a few castings from this, but the mold was a flawed design. Live and learn.

I’ve taken some of those castings and prepared the same setup for all the previous molds. 1.Building up a base with oil-clay 2.covering it with a smooth layer of water-based clay 3.including plastic tubing for pour & drain holes. This does take some time.

Here it is completely set up in the cottles. The little imprints are called “keys,” and they insure that the two pieces of the mold will register precisely with each other. It looks a bit slimy because it’s been coated in mold release. Not 100% necessary for clay on plaster, but I think it helps.

Here’s the first section of the mold after pouring plaster. Then I just flipped the whole thing over, remove all the clay, clean up the mold and set it back up in the cottles. Pour again and hazahh.

So here are the two halves completed and cleaned with water and vinegar with new castings in them.

This is how I actually cast with the mold. From the image above, you can see that there are holes for casting and draining. In the image below, the entire mold has been raised and the draining holes in the bottom have plastic tubes in them and are plugged with oil clay. When it’s ready to drain (about six minutes after I pour the slip), I just set the whole thing over my slip bucket and take the oil clay plugs off the tubes.

Each piece is then individually handworked and smoothed. I cut out the middle sections, and adjust the dip where they meet. I couldn’t create that dip in the mold itself because it would create an undercut and make it impossible to work with. In reading about it, it was difficult to understand how undercuts affected molds until I actually started doing it. Then it was, “Oh yeah. Okay. That doesn’t work.” Here is a podbaby on one of the stands I’ve been experimenting with. Now it’s just waiting to dry.

For reference, here’s my first drawing that I did of these little guys a couple of years ago.


New Drawing – Boley Building

Here’s the first few stills for a new piece I’ve been working on. I should finish it today or tomorrow. For context, I’ve also included a photograph of the original detail on the Boley Building that’s down the street from my studio. Oh, and the shiny looking stuff is actually a shiny plastic I put over the background to protect the surface from dust and me screwing up until I can seal the whole piece.


Showing at KC Fringe Festival

Oops, I forgot to add this earlier. Last night an exhibition opened at Arts Incubator East at 1739 Walnut for the KC Fringe Festival. The exhibition is showing through July 27 and the gallery hours are:Tues – Sat 6-10, Sun 1:30 – 5:30.

My big 4ft x 12ft drawing (the main picture on the heading of my blog) is getting a second showing for less than a week and only about five blocks south of my studio. For those who don’t know, I drew it last year for an exhibition / awesome party at Scott Fitness in Westport. Its size does limit its viewing potential, so here’s your opportunity to see it, since who knows when it’ll be up again. There’s a ton of other things to be seen in the gallery as well.

Coral – from prototype to casting

Here is a series of images showing the making of one version of “Corals” for the installation.

Pouring the plaster blank.

Turning the blank on a lathe.

Staight off the lathe.

On the right, after shaping.

Burying half of “Coral” into oil clay to start the moldmaking process.

Securing the mold area with cottle boards.

Then I carefully add a layer of water-based clay on top of the oil clay to make a smooth, even surface that goes just up to the midline of the prototype.

After I pour the plaster and let it set, I remove the cottle boards and seperate the two sections. I no longer need all the clay.

After cleaning up the plaster section, it goes back in the cottle boards for a second pour. Prepping the plaster with layers of oil soap and mold release is crucial for getting sections to release from each other, especially when you pour plaster on plaster.

Just after the second pour.

The two sections apart and prototype removed. I’m still not done though. This is going to be a three part mold.

Now the mold is strapped together, empty and upside down. I’ve carefully made a clay seal so that I can make the bottom section of the mold. This will make sure the piece sits steadily on a lowered rim rather than a flat base that would make it wobbly.

Putting the cottle boards on and getting it ready to pour the bottom of the mold.

So now I have all three sections I included a hole in the bottom section of the mold for a section of plastic tubing. This will act as the drainage hold when I pour the liquid clay, “slip,” into the mold.

The setup for pouring the slip into the mold. There is a hole in either end with plastic tubing inserted. For the pour, I’ve blocked up the drainage hole on the bottom with oil clay, and jerryrigged it. After I pour the slip, I let it sit for a while. The plaster soaks up the water in the slip closest to it, thus slowly building thickness. The longer you let the slip set, the thicker the clay wall will be.

When the slip has set enough, I put a bucket on the floor between the stools, unplug the drainage hole and let all the excess slip drain out into a bucket. I can use that slip again.

I let the castings set up over night and take them out of the molds the next day. So here are some castings straight out of the mold. The one on the right is the one we’ve been looking at.

And here is a casting of Coral after I’ve done some hand shaping and smoothing. So there you have it, from prototype to casting. Eventually, I’ll add images after bisque firing, glazing, and the grand finale. Long process, isn’t it?


Searching & Treasure – Done?

Well, Searching is pretty much done, but I’ll probably tinker with it since it won’t be framed for a while. Originally, I thought I’d donate this to the Epsten Gallery’s Urban Suburban art auction in October. I’ve decided to give them a different one since I need boat images for the KC Coalition show I’m doing in September.

So I’ll be donating the second one shown below instead, which I’ve titled Treasure.


Third Friday Open Studios

Don’t forget this is Third Friday, so Urban Culture Project sites are open 6-9. That includes the Bonfils Artist Studios, so my studio will be open to the public. Stop by if you’re in the area!

Bonfils Artist Studios / 125 E. 12th St., KCMO
(corner of 12th & Grand, one bldg. west of the NAIA)