Monthly Archives: June 2011

Transparency Experiments (LED Fingerbulb!)

Most of the plastics work that I do is with SmoothOn products, with one main exception. When I’m doing stuff that’s transparent, I most like working with a clear polyester casting resin made by “Castin’ Craft”, available at art supply stores for about $30 for a quart. I like it because it’s surprisingly bubble-free for home use without a vacuum pump (and it’s fluid enough that bubbles generally rise out of the resin as it’s curing), and it also demolds in about eight hours. Let me post three things that I’ve made with it recently, starting with this “fingerbulb”. I cast the fingertip in clear resin, and then added a polymer clay holder for a red LED and then painted it all to make it seem like one piece. When you give it power, the fingernail, which is the only unpainted bit, lights up BRIGHT red. Perhaps I should have done more layers of paint, because the light is so strong that it actually leaks right through the sides. Looks pretty neat though. Not sure what project it’s going to be for though.

I made another finger project to see how a two-layer paintjob would work. That is, there’s a first layer that’s mostly red, and then a small section of orange/yellow stripes, with the skin color on top. I was happy to see that it’s quite visible. The trick to getting the fingernail totally glass-transparent was to spray it with a glossy top layer — the same trick that you use to turn frosted glass into something totally transparent.

Finally, I miscalculated how much resin to mix up, so I poured the excess into the original cat mold for Nefarious’s chess set (before the pieces had a base — that is, the original sculpture) and then painted it up as something akin to the Cheshire Cat. It also has glow in the dark eyes.

Cast Metal Cat-Themed Chess Set (Teaser)

I think I mentioned before that Nefarious and I are working on a chess set. She sculpted the figures (although I helped by doing detailing like carving the hair texture) and I made silicone molds and have been casting the black side in pewter which I have treated with a dark patina, and the white side in clear glass-like polyurethane plastic. I wanted to quickly share how the figures are looking right now. They have not yet been cleaned up so they look a bit “rusted” and the plastic hasn’t been trimmed. I am thrilled with how the metal ones look especially, and they feel great in your hand too with a nice heft (about a half pound each I think).

P.S. I hope it amuses you that the bishop (left one in the bottom row) is the “fish”-op. Har har.

Park Time, Bigtime

I think I’ve mentioned before that in Toronto, only 3% of school age girls (as in K through 12) are getting enough physical activity, which is defined as an hour of activity per day. As such, I go to great effort to ensure that Nefarious gets that, and now that school is out we have been spending as much time as possible at the park. After all, I can read at the park just as easily as I can do it here, and the fresh air is good for me. I suspect that even if I am not sure that I’m up to it, I am better off resting in the shade in fresh air than trying to sleep in a sweltering studio. So there has been lots of playground, even more hiking through the many forest trails, and now that the pool is open, at least an hour a day of swimming.

Let me start with some public art we found. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the hippies having a vegan picnic nearby, but these two guerrilla “installations” were behind a sign reading, if I remember correctly, “Stop and Smell the Fungi”.

Also on that particular walk, and for the second time in as many days after not having seen one at High Park ever, we found a snake sunning itself on the path. The first one escaped us in the tall grass, but this one was in the forest and did not have as quick access to cover and we managed to catch him. Nefarious was a little nervous about getting bitten but held him and got to feel his frightened muscular twirling and constricting. Of course released a few moments later none the worse for wear.

Nefarious is always catching animals at the park. Caterpillars are a particular favorite and she always begs to take them home, a request that has so far been denied. I may have mentioned this previously, but I did however recently let her take home a frog for the night. She made a nice little home for him to stay in and caught bugs for him to eat and left him water and treats. When we released him the next day he was not entirely eager to wander off! Domesticated in a night. The power of strawberries maybe.

Then of course there are also the classics like tree climbing.

Unfortunately, and as amusing as it may or may not be, I have to be vigilant when taking photos. It’s been made far worse by going to water skiing camp for the past four weekends (which sounds like it was a ton of fun) and listening to all the older kids swearing and so on, but she sure does like rude gestures. Of course, it’s worse when she’s behind the shutter of her own camera, which I was mortified to discover is filled with a great many surreptitiously taken pictures of my butt-crack, explaining the giggling that I often hear from behind me when I bend over.

Getting Fingered

I have a gazillion plastic toes and fingers lying around because I often pour left over excess plastic (which must be used within a few minutes once it’s mixed). When I am bored or, let’s say, avoiding some other project, I mount magnets or pins or something other things, and give them silly paint jobs. For example, a couple of odd and slightly grotesque toes (the little and the big) that are now fridge magnets. They really looked horrid before they were painted.

On this one I cast three thumbtacks into it, so it has a nice, solid, and non-spinny corkboard adherence. Next to it you can see a Littlest Pet Shop face that’s also a tack.

Finally, on this finger I cast a rope into the plastic. I’m not really sure why I did that because I have no coherent plan for how to use it. It’s been coated with automotive exhaust clearcoat so it has a nice indestructible coat and should at least be difficult to scuff. I made the “flesh” parts by carving it a little with a pocket knife. I did the carving right after demolding it, so the plastic was still soft and especially easy to work with.

Caitlin has also painted a few of these — hopefully she posts the ones she made because they’re much nicer. Hers are a collection of little figurines rather than just abstract paintjobs.

A variety of things I’ve made recently

Here are a few minor tidbits, just some odds and ends. They’re probably not really worth posting, but I’ve committed to the entry now so I suppose I won’t abort. At her request, I took a mold off of one of Nefarious’s “Littlest Pet Shop” characters and cast it in glow in the dark plastic, with a thin layer of blue as an experiment in filling in defects.

This broach was was made using the face from a “Monster High” fashion doll, with the blindfold and other details done in clay. This was an experiment in seeing if glow pigment would show through dyed plastic — to my surprise it does extremely well.

I wanted to try doing an “automatic setting” by pressing a stone into an open mold full of molten pewter. The letters have been filled in with black nail polish, and I engraved the heart by hand. “Veritas lux mean” means “truth is my light” by the way.

And I have sooooo many fingers lying around. This one is another fridge magnet, and it glows orange in the dark, which is kind of neat because it’s an unusual colour. It doesn’t glow for as long or as strongly as the green though. This one is funny because the thin part of the nail doesn’t have enough glow pigment and as a result looks like a gross dirty nail in the dark.