Eyes, Beak, Comb and Wattle

January 10, 2011 | Filed in:

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?


Chicken gets a head

December 24, 2010 | Filed in:

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.


Shake your tailfeathers

December 16, 2010 | Filed in:

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.


Forging ahead

December 9, 2010 | Filed in:

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.


Metal chicken

November 11, 2010 | Filed in:

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.


Mosaic gets its grout

January 18, 2010 | Filed in:

Yesterday, in the second of two classes, I learned how to add grout to my mosaic. Never being one to do things simple, I decided that the fish and the background needed two different colors of grout. It was a bit frustrating to get all of the grout to behave (and involved miles of masking tape) but I admit to being pleased with the result.

The fish is being held hostage by the JCC for the time being, since they plan to display all 10 mosaics produced in the class. When it’s returned to me, I’ll take a proper non-cellphone photo.


A first mosaic

January 11, 2010 | Filed in:

Yesterday I attended the first of two classes at the JCC taught by Connie, a mosaics artist. There was actually very little “class” to the class – she spent less than ten minutes showing us the four or five tools (glass cutters and nippers) and then set us to work drawing our designs on pieces of wood, cutting glass and glueing it. We had just under four hours to complete our cutting and glueing because next week, class 2 of 2, we will have to grout, and the glue has to be dry for that. I stayed a little late finishing my piece (“you’re a fish!”), but I’m quite pleased with out it came out. Connie didn’t bring as many different colors as I wanted, but I was able to get quite a range out of one piece of marbled orangey-yellow glass.


Spider Day Four

March 22, 2007 | Filed in:

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.

Here are the pictures.


Spider Day Three

March 16, 2007 | Filed in:

Last night I added another 212 squares to the spider abdomen. This makes for a total of 551 squares. The abdomen is almost complete. Now I will begin creating the cephalothorax…

Click here to see more pictures.


Spider Day Two

March 8, 2007 | Filed in:

Last night I added another 170 squares to the spider abdomen. This makes for a total of 339 squares.

Click here to see more pictures.


Spider begins

March 1, 2007 | Filed in:

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.

Click here for the full picture.



August 10, 2006 | Filed in:

Still not ready to go back to the bear just yet. And I only had 2 hours in the shop today, so I started this tree. I took a 4 foot piece of thick-ish bar (1/2 inch?) and forged the whole thing, heating to white hot and then hitting with a hammer to work the surface. Then I cut, forged tips, and welded it together. Next I’ll add branches and maybe more roots.


Metal bear gets some skin

July 28, 2006 | Filed in:

After adding just a few structural pieces yesterday, I began adding “skin.” First I had to cut a number of pieces out of a large sheet of sheet metal, and then I began welding them on. It was quite a challenge; I had a #2 welding tip that worked perfectly on quarter-inch rod, but just about vaporized the thin sheet metal. Once I had a skin piece attached, I’d heat it up with the tip and bang it into place around the skeleton with a hammer. At this time, he’s looking kind of buggy, but I’ll be taking care of that at a later stage. I think this bear’s name might be Iorek Byrnison, because he’s looking an awful lot like an armoured bear.


Metal Bear grows

July 20, 2006 | Filed in:

Tonight I spent a solid 5 hours working on the bear in an overheated metalshop. You know, if you’re not sweating, you’ve not having any fun! He’s not got a much more complete skeletonal structure and more weight in his back-end to keep him balanced. Head, legs, body, shoulders, and neck have all been honed. Next week I hope to start adding skin! Here are two pictures from today: from the right and from the back.


Metal Bear begins

July 14, 2006 | Filed in:

Using this old drawing as inspiration, I began the bear last night. So far, he’s got a basic skeleton, same way the elephant, bull, and dog all started out. He’s going to be leaning forward, and looks like he should topple over, but I’ve put some heavy weights at his back end to keep him upright. There’s a lot of work to do before he’ll be done: complete legs, head, skin, etc. Maybe I’ll squeeze in an extra visit to the metalshop to work on him. Here’s his picture so far.