Wax

The sculpture studio will be full of molten wax, glass and metal this semester. This week, we created wax sculptures and plaster-silica molds to cast glass in.

Last semester I was successful in making an iron eyeball, so this semester I will be making more out of both glass and iron. In order to do this, I will need to make a bunch out of wax first.

Wax to iron

To begin, I like to heat up some wax in the designated wax kettle. Before it is totally liquified, I take a large spoonful so I can work it into a ball with my hands. This becomes the base for my eye.

Pre-eye wax clump

Wax is pretty easy to work with since it has such a low melting point, but it is important to roll it at the right temperature. Too cool, it will be to hard to work. Too hot, it will be too sticky (and it may lead to some burns).

Once I have the ball formed, I can heat my tools to easily work the wax and add detail. I also flatten out a few pieces that I can use as eyelids later on.

Once I have the basics done, all that there is left to do in wax is smooth out the form and attach the gate and cup. Then, its ready to be made into a mold, melted out, and cast in either metal or glass.

Since I will be casting this in glass, it is not necessary add any venting. Venting allows for the air to escape when pouring metal which flows very quickly into the mold. When it is molten, glass has a similar consistency to honey, therefore it will enter the mold very slowly and the air will have plenty of time to escape.

Once all of the wax forms are ready, we seal them down to a board and take their measurements for the plaster-silica molds. The first line is half an inch thicker than the wax forms, this is how thick the thin detail coat has to be. The second line is an inch thicker than the rest of the mold. For this layer, we added grog (ground ceramics) for additional thickness and structural support.

Once the molds set, the cups are removed and the wax is steamed out. Then, water is poured into each hollow mold and measured. This water measurement is then converted to determine how much glass will be needed for each mold.

After this step, the kiln and annealer will do most of the work. It will take a couple weeks to melt the glass into each mold and then anneal them. Annealing allows the glass to slowly lower in temperature. If it cools to quickly, it can break.

In the meantime, I will be working on other projects until I can finally break open my glass mold.

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