Now that it’s Christmas and gifts have been opened, I can show a piece I’ve been working on for the past few weeks without spoiling a surprise. I haven’t worked the whole time on this piece because there were emergency projects in the studio for client’s Christmases to finish first.
Adi has been interested in greek armor and cuirasses and helments have figured in his watercolors and paintings. I wanted to make one for him and picked up a sheet of a brass alloy at metalliferous about three weeks ago.
In discussing the project with Gennady, he advised me to start by doming the sheet first to get some height and volume into the basic shape. I sketched out a outline and domed the piece like this keeping the edges of the sheet close to it original plane. The metal stretched to form a shape over an inch high. Here it is about to be annealed, looking into the concave side,
In the studio at home I began to model the piece, I didn’t want to use pitch so I filled the dome with plasticine an adhered the piece to a piece of binder’s board. My chasing tools are too small to make the soft shapes that I needed to express musculature so I found some wooden dowels and a flat piece of wood to use as chasing tools. They were effective in achieving the shapes I wanted. When I needed to do some pushing from the inside, I was able to remove the piece from the plasticine, tap it out and then replace it to continue modeling the surface. Here’s photo that shows the tools (except for the chasing hammer), the piece attached to the binder’s board and the photo I was using as a guide for proportion followed by another photo close up of the piece. I sketched in the navel and nipples with a sharpie and had begun to chase in the navel when these photos were taken.
While in class, about ten days ago, I was closing the spout for my silver teapot. That in itself has been another learning experience, figuring out which stake and which hammer let alone the angle at which to strike to get the metal to move has been very hard for me. I am including this photo because it shows the cuirass at a different angle.
Back in the studio this week, I used a rounded dash, sausage shaped chasing tool to outline the cuirass and then used shears to cut it free of the excess sheet metal. Then I stood the same chasing tool in a vise and used the hammer to close the rounded edge. The flex shaft tool was used to give the edge a uniform depth.
The edge was still not closing enough so I made another narrower chasing tool to help me do that. This is a narrower version of the ‘sausage shape’ tool I used to mark and start turning the edge.
I held the cuirasse in a position like this and struck with a planishing hammer to bring the edge around.
Once that was done I made brass rings to represent the rings on a full scale cuirasse’s shoulders where leather straps would have held the armor together when it was worn. The rings were soldered in place, the piece was pickled and polished with 600 grit emory paper in preparation for a patina.
I applied a blackening solution with the heat of my torch and then rubbed it down with a cloth which removed some of the black surface. It looked too ‘dry’ so I applied a little wax to unify the surface. Here it is finished before it went into a presentation box.