To obtain this high finish required some intense grinding and polishing sessions. What I have not shown is the welding process, this took forever as bronze is a super conductor, heat runs through it at speed and due to the scale of the piece, it meant that we had a real heat sink on our hands. So at every stage of the welding process I experienced some pretty devastating moments. First you need to preheat the whole thing: 2 hours of blow torching.. great laugh.. then you get old Richard Elliot on the scene (with some support from John, Falcon and Slater) and you blast the joints with a few thousand volts through a TIG welder. Heating up the bronze in to small pools you feed in some bronze rod and then your work is one... or not as it happens. There is a trademark sound that occurs when your weld gos south, more of a CRICK then a crack... I got very familiar with this sound. Due to the extreme temperatures the bronze was twisting like my old man in the fifties, so it just kept pulling itself apart. This event went on some, I had my moments, but with some reassurance from the crew, I finally solved it... not always pretty.
Due to the intensity of the period there is know photographic evidence, no one likes to see a grown man crying.
Those naughty boys from the wood work shop, Steph and Phil made a scale model of a very dandy little sailor. He's out for a jaunt in pretty foul conditions and should know better.. the RNLI will be out soon.
Show night kicked it and the work seemed to get the crowd talking. There was a lot of touching the piece which I hadn't expected, so that was super cool. I'm going to post the finished sculpture on show in the next couple of days with the final manufacture images, until then here's a micro second of the Severn in a bling out box made with the magic hands of Stef Willis. Deluxe Baby.
This is a shot of the work on a table that I was about to fit some wheels on to. I went through two sets of these wheels because they collapsed under the sheer weight of the work.
In this image you can see the different colours and marks that the heat from the welding does to the bronze. Another very critical issue is that when the intense heat from welding is put into the piece, the bronze acts as a incredible heat sink (bronze is made up of a lot of copper and copper is a fantastic conductor, heat runs through it at speed), therefore the form of the work distorts and pulls causing cracks in the newly applied weld. Just after the weld is put in, one has to wait a moment or two to see if it's held. This is particularly difficult business and I became very familiar with the pinging sound that a cracking weld makes. I learnt how to weep internally during this part of the project.
I can't actually show you me welding as it's very bright and the camera can't deal with it. So this is what it looks like after the weld. To do this I had to preheat everything to avoid any fluctuating in form, it gets pretty scientific at this point and I had to learn quick with the guidance of Richard Elliot. Richard has had years of experience working with the likes of Mike Smith on project for the likes of Damien Hurst and The Chapman brothers. Richard is also a fantastic artist in his own right, he's has a couple of water colours in the H2O show. I pin them up for you.
We had anticipated that this might be the most difficult part of the project, expecting that each corner would have its own character and distortion meanign it would be extremley difficult to line this up, however we got lucky. It matched up first time (sort of). The next part of the process was to weld this sucker up, pretty tough stuff as I didn't really know what I was doing.. Bring fourth, Richard Elliot..
This is after 82million hours of grinding and sanding, 82thousand bloody fingers and my back bent like a willow tree, the first sight of all four corners together. So this was about half way through the process.
New Web Site
Here's my new, super cool, website. This website was constructed by Jessica Hayes who has been very relaxed and cool in putting this together, she had to deal with a lot of flaky rubbish on my behalf.
I hope you like it. I will put Jess's details up soon so you can all get your sites designed by her.
This is me busy removing the final corner from its investment mold. It's a painfull and dusty task also often hiding in the white, innocent plaster are some really sharp bits of frilly bronze; ribbons I tell you. Each corner was weighed seperatly (or at least they were meant to be, we sort of forgot and only did 1 and 4) and they varied between 28kgs and 43kgs, in the next post you will see that I did alot of this work with the work suspended from a crane.