Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Colour in a bleakish week

©2017 Barry Smith - Intense delight in a roadside garden
The past week has had its challenges including a visit to the hospital and finishing the re-skinning of the inside of the trunk of the Buttress Root sculpture at Little Yabba Creek.

©2017 Barry Smith _ Sunrise from the hospital window
©2017 Barry Smith - Early morning light - Little Yabba Creek
But amidst that there was time to celebrate orchid colour and shapes.

©2017 Barry Smith - A stem of orchids almost growing itself on the terrace below
©2017 Barry Smith - Detail of terrace orchid
©2017 Barry Smith - A new special unfolding for Fiona's dad
©2017 Barry Smith _ A burst of orchid sunshine
©2017 Barry Smith - Tiny Australian native orchids at the base of the book wall
This morning was cold and windy; but again nature offered spots of colour on the verges.

©2017 Barry Smith - The beauty of a weed
©2017 Barry Smith _ Colour cluster in a Treehaven Way garden bed
©2017 Barry Smith - Unfolding - welcoming the oncoming spring
In bleak moments nature can gather us in its web to draw us into a better place.

©2017 Barry Smith - Early morning web at Little Yabba Creek - reflecting early morning light

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sometimes persistence pays

©2017 Barry Smith - Swimming up-stream? School of Funky Fish 2
I have been trying to find scraps of time to get a couple of projects finished: A School of Funky Fish 2  for an up coming art festival; and the Snake and Water 5 post sculpture.

After final grinding and polishing Funky Fish 2 is ready for packing and sending out west. Fiona provided valuable design advice on layout of the fish forms to create a sense of cohesion and movement. The timber base is salvaged camphor laurel - sanded and oiled.

©2017 Barry Smith - School of Funky Fish 2 
©2017 Barry Smith - Detail of School of Funky Fish 2
I had finished the etching of the snake and water motifs but needed to remove all the shellac and paint to reveal the finished plates. That took a lot of methylated spirits and muscle. But I think the end results show the effort was worth it.

2017 Barry Smith - Before - etched plates with shellac and paint
2017 Barry Smith - After - cleaned etched plates
2017 Barry Smith - Set of four plates for a post
2017 Barry Smith - Cleaned etched water motif plates
The final job on the Snake and Water sculpture, before installation, is to attach 4 etched plates to each of the 5 posts. Still a way to go but edging closer. I hope to do the install in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Adding a new skin


©2017 Barry Smith - Welding in progress - photographed using the iPhone whilst having my eyes protected by a very dark welding mask - couldn't really see the image at all.
Almost two months ago I posted that I had all but completed the installation of the Buttress Root sculpture. There was remedial earthworks and signage to do. But then it was discovered that two spelling mistakes had been made in the routing process in one of the poems inside the trunk section of the sculpture as you can see from the photo below.

©2017 Barry Smith  - Spelling errors
What to do about that? It was decided that it would have to be rectified by creating a new skin that was routed with the corrected spelling; and install that over the offending text. Any other option would have looked bad. Over the last two days I have worked with Edith-Ann and Oliver (the welder) to install a new skin to the inner side of the trunk.

That sounds simply - but let me tell you that it was extremely difficult to get the skin to sit within the old trunk section. Many clamps and much gently brute force were required to get the skin to conform and enable Oliver to tack and weld it into place.

Still we got there after: clamping; tacking; welding; cutting off the excess when the the full weld was completed; grinding; buffing and polishing; and filling in the groove in the base with a hi-tech industrial concrete repair material.

©2017 Barry Smith - Cutting the base insert groove in by hand
©2017 Barry Smith  - Skin: cut, routed and rolled - ready for attaching
©2017 Barry Smith  - Many clamps required to pull the metal into place
©2017 Barry Smith - Clamping and tacking one section at a time
©2017 Barry Smith - Cutting the excess metal off
©2017 Barry Smith - Grinding after welding complete
©2017 Barry Smith  - Buffing and polishing
A beautiful finished product - you would not know we have added a 4mm skin. The trunk in fact looks even more solid now that the trunk metal is 14mm thick. It all just needs to weather again.

©2017 Barry Smith  - Standing proud in the landscape
©2017 Barry Smith  - Looks like an older worn version
©2017 Barry Smith  - And the spelling is correct
The rectification was given sign-off by the authorities. I'm now officially happy; but tired after a couple of heavy days. We will raise a glass of red to the completion of the work.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A mammoth etching episode

©2017 Fiona Dempster - Deep etch
Fiona and I had set aside this morning to etch the 22 plates I have drawn up and blocked out for the five post snake and water motif sculpture I have been commissioned to do. Good news is that we got to do the job.

We dissolved  1kg of copper sulphate and 1kg of salt in 10 litres of hot water - lovely colours. Even though this etching process is sometimes referred to as non-toxic it needs to be done outdoors with all the necessary safety gear as it does give off fumes and it can burn the skin and eyes.

©2017 Barry Smith - Copper sulphate and salt. 
©2017 Barry Smith - Add hot water and the chemical reaction starts
We began by leaving the plates in the etching bath for 5 minutes; but the mixture loses its potency as it goes along; so the last batch ended up being in the bath for just on 10 minutes. In the earlier stages there is also a lot of heat - this diminishes as the etch goes on.

©2017 Barry Smith - Very active and hot etching reaction
To improve the etch Fiona was removing the floating copper residue off the surface as we progressed.

©2017 Barry Smith - Removing floating residue 
©2017 Barry Smith - Floating copper residue in the form of the snake being etched - quite the reaction going on
The plates look pretty messy when taken out of the bath; and need to be cleaned with a strong pressure of water as soon as they are out. If you don't wash the plates off the residue just fouls up the surface of the plates and makes for harder cleaning later.

©2017 Barry Smith - Messy looking etched plates 
©2017 Fiona Dempster - More plates in need of a good wash
©2017 Barry Smith - Barry cleaning plates with water jet
We ended up with a great line up of etched plates - washed and dried and put out for the final drying before cleaning the paint and shellac block-out off.

©2017 Fiona Dempster - A very satisfying line up of etched and washed and dried plates.
©2017 Fiona Dempster - Close up of some of the snake plates.
©2017 Fiona Dempster - Etched water motif plates
©2017 Fiona Dempster - Etched water motif plates
We aimed for a deep etch and achieved this as you can see from the detail photo at the beginning and below.

©2017 Fiona Dempster
Below is a photo of some of the copper residue that was left in the bottom of the etching bath.

©2017 Fiona Dempster
Next step is to clean the shellac off with methylated spirits and the paint off with petrol. That is for another post once the job is done.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Progressing 3 art jobs

©2017 Barry Smith - Hard day at the office??? - a brief rest from hammering & chiselling 
Today was not about finishing; but rather about edging three art jobs along. By far the most time consuming was cutting a groove in the concrete base of the Buttress Root Sculpture so we can do some rectification work next week.

©2017 Barry Smith - Circular area where I needed to cut the groove
I had hoped that I could cut into the concrete with a battery powered angle grinder with a diamond blade.
©2017 Barry Smith - Test run of the diamond blade at home - worked really well
But that was not to be the case - I just could not get the tool close enough because of the river rocks. The job of hammering and chiselling into super hard concrete took 2.5 hours. I had to cut a groove around a 1.2m long X 1cm wide X 1cm deep. But it got a good result in the end.

©2017 Barry Smith - Selection of hardened chisels - sharpened with diamond file - ready for work
©2017 Barry Smith _ Selection of copper hammers and tungsten tipped hammers
©2017 Barry Smith - Copper hammer and chisel at work
©2017 Barry Smith - Nice groove !!!!
©2017 Barry Smith - Groove and corner
Before heading out to the Buttress Root site I selected the timber for the School of Funky Fish 2 sculpture; and got Fiona to work with me on layout of the 7 fish. I cut, drilled, sanded and oiled the timber before heading out - but more on that on Sunday maybe.

©2017 Barry Smith - Setting out the fish
I have also been completing the aluminium pieces to be etched for the 5 post snake and water motifs sculpture. I needed to mark up and block-out aluminium for the tops of the post.

©2017 Barry Smith - Pieces blocked out with paint pen and shellac
Then of course one needs to ensure there are adequate supplies of copper sulphate and salt if one is to do a big etch on Sunday.

©2017 Barry Smith - Gardening copper sulphate and cheap salt
I have got to the end of the day; and am now ready for a curry and wine.