The steel hen has received the last of the attention she is going to receive for a while, I believe. Last week, I did the following:
- Heated up the end of a quarter-in steel rod in the forge and banged on it with a hammer until it was beak-shaped
- Used an oxy-acetalyne cutting torch to cut out a comb and wattles, then welded them on with same tanks
- Melted holes in the head, found matching bolts, cut them short, inserted them. One later fell out and will have to reattached with more confidence at a future date.
- Got a brief lesson in brazing (that’s when you attach two pieces of metal with brass, or in this case, try to color on some small pieces of flat steel with brass as if it were a paint pen, which is definitely is not) and attempted to use the method to give the new chicken head-parts some additional style and color.
- Had my picture taken with the hen
She’s bigger than my chickens, though not by much. She is quite a bit heavier, though. Any naming suggestions for Her Henness?
This hen is getting quite heavy. Quite top heavy. I spent some time trying to add a small dense weight to her breast so she’d balance, but there were two problems with this plan. One, I didn’t embark on this plan until I’d already gotten her almost completely sealed up with new lower front and lower back pieces. Two, she’s so top heavy that even if I do get her to balance, it will be very tenous. The new plan, then, is to weld on two spikes to the bottom of her feet, once she’s all done. Then I can jam her into the ground and she’ll stand up.
So now she’s got all her parts and a head (she got very hot-headed at one point, which is why I put it in a bucket of water). The head isn’t done – you can’t tell from these pictures, but she does have a suggested beak, comb, and waddle, but needs a longer beak and a second waddle. Also, I want to braze her beak so it’s got a different color from the rest of her. And she may get some treatment. Stay tuned because the hen is due for some more artistic attention in the first week of January.
Massive surface area added to the chicken last night. I cut and forged the second wing, the second piece of the middle far back, the last piece of neck, five pieces of tail, the top back and I don’t remember what else. Sadly, Miss Hen is no longer properly balanced and will fall over if two (not one, but two) bricks aren’t weighing down her feet. Hopefully this will change, but she’s getting SO top-heavy that I am losing confidence.
Next week, I plan to fill out her under-tail (aka her “booty butt”) area, and some other nether regions. I also realized I’m not sure how I want to build her head, so I’ll try to figure that out as well.
Last week, which did not get a blog post, I started creating the external surface of the chicken. Starting with a large rectangle of relatively thin plate steel, I cut out rounded shapes with an Oxyacetalyne cutting torch. Then I heated up small areas of those pieces with a rosebud torch, and banged on them with a hammer to shape them. This proved to be slow and frustrating. The area that the rosebud could heat up was just too small.
This week I tried using a small forge instead (pictured first above). This limits the size of the steel pieces I can use, but that proved to be a worthy sacrifice, because the forge heats up pieces fully and I could shape them more easily. The chicken now has a few additional pieces attached, and four more have been forged and will be attached next week. I also took some time to strengthen the welds at the heel and hip joints; the upper part of the chicken is getting heavy and I don’t want it to collapse. At this moment, the chicken can stand on its own! The balance will go off and on again over time, but hopefully it will end up stable.
The chicken support structure/skeleton begins. It’s kind of hard to tell, but it’s got a basic body outline, hips, legs, and initial neck.
Well, it’s not art exactly. It’s functional. After years away, I am back in a metalshop, this one provided by CAFAC (the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center).
The last few weeks have been a refresher, and today was the first day I got to turn on the fire. Actually, this hanging storage system required the use of the cutting wheel on the grinder and a measuring tape more than it needed the Oxyacetalyne, but that part was necessary, too.
Next project? Chicken.
Last night I added only a gross (144) squares. That’s because I ran out! I have to buy more steel and make more squares. Also, I did a lot of detail work, becuase after I finished the abdomen I had to patch up some empty spaces on the back and near the spinarrets, and then I had to start the transition to the cephalothorax (front part), which was tedious. I put a lot of extra welds in this area because this small transition ara will have to hold the entire weight of the abdomen.
I started a new metal sculpture that I’m building entirely out of squares (well, most are actually just rectangles and a few are triangles). You can’t tell right now, but it’s going to be a spider. The part I’ve built first is the top part of the back part … I have to learn some spider anatomy.
Last night I put some more time into the fish. I added another 167 squares to the fish, and I cut another 251. The total number of squares on the fish is now 591. I’m thinking of naming this piece (and future pieces made with this same technique) based on the number of squares it’s made up of. So if this fish ends up with 728 squres alltogether, I’d called it The 728-Square Creature. Seems like a fun theme. Anyway, here’s the digital fish in progress.
Yesterday I added another 180 squares. Okay, some of them aren’t squares. I’ve allowed myself to create a few rectangles – 1″ across and more or less than 1″ down. The body of the fish is starting to really take shape. Next, I have to start on the head and tail (details!). I got a new piece of equipment for this project: an auto-darkening welding hood! See pictures of the digital fish in progress.