5 Jun 2017

1 Jun 2017

What's it made from?

What's your poison?

If you are a sculptor in any medium, one of the most often asked questions you get, other than “Is it really art?” will probably be “What’s it made from?” I got a delivery of goodies today so I thought I’d give you a little run down of what I use most of. Since moving to Australia I have been using a majority of Barnes products for moulds and casting. I often buy from Adelaide Moulding and Casting supplies mainly because their service is fantastic but also, even though it needs shipping I find their prices competitive. They also stock a diverse range so depending on weight, I can throw in a little something extra. No, I don’t work for them or Barnes. I just dig ‘em.

The Ultrasil Pro is a condensation-curing silicone. It has a shore of about 25 with excellent flow and detail reproduction. It has a 20 minute pot life and cures in around 7 hours or so. I always leave it over night anyway so you know it’s a guaranteed start the next morning. So far, even during our Melbourne winters I’ve had minimal temperature retardation issues, although during the height of summer my work time decreases dramatically. Most of my moulds these days are matrix or jacket moulds which I find suits Ultrasil Pro perfectly. It’s very forgiving with undercuts and its high tear resistance and low shore is perfect for a first time dodgy jacket. Remember to always store your moulds away from sunlight and heat and you’ll find Ultrasil moulds will outlast their need.

I also received some dental Alginate which I actually use quite often. It’s very handy for a quick reproduction if you have a simple shaped but delicate positive. As far as I know most alginates are pretty much the same thing so follow your instructions and you’ll be good to go. Obliviously the water in your Alginate mould won’t play nice with any resins so your new master will have to be plaster. 

For mould jackets I’ve used plaster and these days fiberglass (not pictured). The draw backs with plaster is if you develop a crack, that’s it. Fiberglass is a little more forgiving but a whole other skillset. I encourage anyone looking to get into fiberglass to do so. It is quite a learning curve but well worth it. 

I’ve used a variety of resins over the years. Early on in my casting I used a slow cure polyester resin. The long pot life is great if you are little nervous but also handy if you have a mould with a slow pour. It’s also good for casting with internal armatures or for casts that might be thinner than normal. Both instances can promote bubbles so the slow curing gives you plenty of time to work those nasties out. Ideally a pressure pot would be used but if you don’t have one you still have a shot with slow a cure. These days I’m using Easycast Polyurethane. It’s equal parts by weight, has a 60 second pot life and 2-2.5 minute work time. The biggest advantage to Polyurethane is it has less smell and toxins than polyester resin but I’ve not noticed any difference in detail. Easycast also takes colour and metals very well if that’s your thing and I find it to be far more durable than polyester. This is an extremely fast curing resin and I only use it on particular sculpts. I would encourage anyone to only use this on a simple two part or open box mould if you’re a beginner. You’d be surprised how fast a minute can disappear when you are pouring.

I also use a lot of plaster for casting. Again, like the alginate it’s a relatively simple procedure but like resin, it is an exothermal reaction which will speed up the setting over time. It will seem to be setting slowly but then just kick. This is only an issue for slush casting so keep your eye on it; most plasters set within 10 minutes. Most importantly, DO NOT use plaster for mould making on the human body unless you know what you are doing. Google “Schoolgirl, 16, lost eight fingers in plaster of Paris accident during art lesson” if you don’t believe me.

So that’s this weeks episode of Bazza’s product bias, next week we’ll cover political parties and cell phones. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please try and find the TDS (technical data sheet) for the products you are thinking about buying (they’re always published online) and read them over and over. Chances are whatever you’re wondering will be in them and for safety, have your TDS with you while you are casting. If you can’t find the products I’ve mentioned stocked near you, I’m sure you’ll be able to track them down by their properties, shore strength and pot life etc. Like most things the right tool for the right job applies to all casting and moulding materials. Trial and error is sometimes the only way to figure that out but if you want to learn more about casting or mould making there is a wealth of material on YouTube. If you have any other questions please feel free to shout out.  

29 May 2017

Hidden Treasures of African Art

I stumbled across this documentary recently. I'm a big fan of traditional African art but it was the mention of Dogon tribe that prompted me to watch it. I'm sure many of you will know them for being singled out in Von Daniken's fun fest but as West African artisans they are second to none. However, Western tastes and a perverse fetish for "used" idols and masks have not only created a black market and thriving counterfeit trade but are also the reasons the Dogon and many tribes like them have been subject to an almost complete freeze of cultural development. Griff Ryhs Jones is at his cheeky best in this BBC piece from 2013. Not only does this put him in good stead to dig like few would dare but he is able to bring striking parallels to not only contemporary art but I believe also low brow and dark art. It's for this reason I'm sharing it here. Please excuse the YouTube host, but BBC I player is no longer hosting this series. Click settings and turn off annotations to be rid of the silly yellow link.

13 May 2017

"All that I am or ever hope to be..." ― Abraham Lincoln

From left to right: The Venus of Hohle Fels,
The Venus of Dolní Věstonice,
The Venus of Willendorf

I may be slightly premature but there is method to this madness. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, tomorrow is Mothers Day. Like most holidays these days, crass commercialism often masks ideas and dilutes our reason. Not at those moments with shy eyes and lumpy throats we pass our cards or hand over gifts. Those eyes and throats know, it’s the TV ads, rushing round or the too busy to ring moments that steal so I wanted to snatch back from life this year for just a second.

Everyday of my life I walk past a photo of my Mother. It hangs in the hall in a modest black frame taken two years after I was born. She is leaning close to me as I clutch the edge of a no-doubt orange or green 70’s sofa balancing myself, in black and white. Not for style as the fading shades testament but because that was another time. Before the tellings off of my naughties, the disapprovings of my teens or eye rollings of my 20’s. Long before my memories permit my Mum sat perched, ready to catch me if I fell. This has never changed. It’s often the trees hiding the forest and in this respect a day out of 365 seems pale to bated breath, edge of seat for god knows how long but if moments and photos like this teach me anything it’s don’t wait to say thank you, or I love you or I couldn’t do this without you or you don’t look any different to me than you do in that photo Mum.

If you ever find yourself working your ass off, trying that little bit harder or taking a little more care just so someone might be proud of you. Know then that you are lucky and know they cared long before you’ll ever know. Happy Mothers Day to all the Mums and thank you to all the women who have featured in my life. Thank you for the time, lessons and helping me become a better Man. To the Mum’s to be, may you know all the reasons why…

13 Apr 2017

10 Apr 2017

Gerard Geer - Chimaephera

Gerard Geer's work seems to be in a constant curve of intricacy. This combining and re-imagining is often copied but none do it to this level. The handmade/natural nature of both the bone Chimeras and grown crystals seem at first, to inhabit dusty alchemy texts or religious tomes but the longer I look at them they begin to morph. A slight metallic taste of the future creeps in, nano tech morphology, perhaps genetic manipulation or free forming. It's not clear to me at all, suffice to say the product is more than the sum of the parts. Like movies, I like art that poses questions, not answers. Gerard Geer for me is that in spades. I hear Geer has a solo show "Chimaephera" opening on the 6th of May at the BeinArt Gallery in Melbourne. 

29 Mar 2017

Battle for slumburbia

Battle for slumburbia - Simple lifestyle solutions for growing paranoia. Mixed media

23 Feb 2017

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

There seems to be a lot going at the moment. I'm undecided if that is true or I'm actually paying attention. I stopped watching News shows when I moved to the UK. The city of my birth had a sizable earthquake and the coverage was passing at best. That taught me all there is to know about the medium. I'm fully aware no "story" will give you the complete picture nor will it begin to give you the ambience. Growing up in NZ it was pretty easy to take the News at face value and attach it to my own experience. In this respect, moving around the world a couple of times was the best thing I think I have ever done, for my own growth and for increasing my understanding of my ignorance. Nowadays most of what I think or say is punctuated with "I could be wrong" or "fucked if I know". I feel far more responsible with these responses in my arsenal. I have no idea what is happening in the States. I'm so undecided about so many things it's hard to form any sort of opinion about much of it. I also obviously don't live there so tapping the zeitgeist is impossible. I am though immensely glad the morning after troubles have subsided. Have they? I'm too old for smashing shit up. I'm not so much committed to peaceful protest as I am unsure about the alternatives and the older you get you grow cautious. I can't afford a new hip ya know. Well, they say, we stand on the shoulders of giants. This not only I believe, I know. Evidence is everywhere and we now have it at our fingertips. No longer is history written by the winner. It's all here in bits and bites. 

If you have read much of this blog, or if I have crafted these words enough, you'll know I'm expert on little but I do know to find help when I need it. Please don't take this as offering advice. I wouldn't be so presumptuous but these times we find ourselves in are not the only time things have been rocky. It's only the strong backs of said Giants that make it seem so. Hence we should turn to them. So I offer this to you. I watch this doco and a similar one I've written about here at least once a year. When the world seems tough and stale faced and I find myself slowly moving in a direction there's often no coming back from this and "Your mommy kills animals" reminds me there are lessons that have been learned by many far better than I. That wants and needs are not the same. That solve must be postfixed with et coagula. If you find shit a bit rough, now or in the future. If you feel like the harshness demands equal in return. Respectfully, maybe this or the link above might just be what you need. 

Stay safe, don't break stuff

2 Feb 2017

Gaga for Dada. The receiving end of groceries

Recently a friend posted a link to a UK TV show on social media. Being a person of questionable attention span I became nostalgic for the British styled medium. Cue hours wasted on YouTube. Consequently, I stumbled on this documentary presented by the sweet smelling Vic Revees. I'm posting it here in justification and atonement for my virtual and working hour sins. Eat it up before the man takes it back

23 Jan 2017

Jonathan Payne

I recently managed to get down to the BeinArt gallery in Melbourne for the opening of the Flesh and Bone group exhibition. There was a fantastic turnout and the work on display was at the level you'd expect. Top notch! 

I've been a big fan of Jonathan Payne for a long time now and seeing his work in the flesh was far more fulfilling than I could have hoped. You can see more from Payne here.