step 1: concept drawings
Our factories are one of our items that we worked on together. The great thing about collaborating with another artist is that when one of us is stuck we can hand the work off to the other. The cloud factory started as a quick watercolor sketch that Quincy made.
step 2: forming the master
To make the original Adam started with a somewhat grumpy yet pliable lump of polymer clay. The finished piece will be ceramic but we often start with polymer to make a mold.
Clay tools, drill bits, X-acto and utility type knives for maximum poking and pushing around of irritable clay.
Coaxing the clay into basic size and shape.
Smoothing over any disagreements and imperfections in the clay surface with clay tool.
Drilling shallow holes for the smoke stacks to fit in.
Rolling, and chopping smoke stacks to size.
Setting stacks into holes.
Smoothing the clay around smoke stack with clay tool.
Drilling indentation on top of stack.
Using a square drive screw driver bit, pressing in the windows. At this point the clay was beyond angry with us.
Cleaning up details.
Hand sculpt little cloud shapes.
Preparing pieces to mold. Gently pressed pieces on a smooth piece of acrylic.
step 3: making the mold
Cutting a large disposable cup in half. See? Those big red plastic cups aren’t just for backyard keg parties. Nerds like us recycle them to make stuff.
Centering the cup in place over piece.
Wrench placed on top of cup to hold it in place.
Fairly unremarkable cup of gypsum cement ready to be mixed with water.
Gently mixing the plaster until there are no lumps.
Pouring plaster evenly around the object until it is about a half inch submerged.
Some plaster has leaked out of the bottom of the cup despite the wrench and its valiant efforts but it is not a problem. Now we will allow the mold to dry.
We then repeat the process to make a cloud mold.
The mold looks a bit like a French pastry at this point which really is the cruelty of ceramic; lots of beautiful things that aren’t tasty enough to eat.
The mold is dry so we peel the cup off of it.
Using a rasp to shave down sharp edges and flatten out the bottom.
Cleaning up top of mold cavity.
Pulling positive out of mold.
A little more clean up of top edge of cavity.
Blow off the stray bits of plaster and let mold dry out for a couple of days.
step 4: molding the ceramics
Next we pour ceramic slip into mold.
Filling until it almost over flows. As the mold absorbs the moisture from the slip it will cause a divot in the middle of the clay. Will check it in a couple of hours and top it off with more slip and repeat until it stays filled.
Again, we repeat the process with the cloud mold.
Because of the shallow depth, this mold will be used for pressing clay into.
Pressing ceramic clay into mold.
Trimming the clay off of the top of mold with a rib tool.
Tapping the mold until the pieces fall out.
Cleaning up cloud pieces.
Making a hole with a very small drill bit for wire to fit into after firing.
Trimming the excess clay off the top of the factory mold.
Tapping the mold a few times as it makes its way out of the mold.
It looks a little rough and will require some clean up. The more this mold is used the cleaner it will cast and will be easier to remove from the mold. The first one is always the roughest cast.
Smoothing and cleaning up clay.
Drilling holes in the stacks with a small drill bit.
step 5: firing and glazing
Tray of pieces in different stages of drying. Will have to allow several days to be dry and be ready for the kiln.
Amazing wooden trays were handmade by Quincy’s dad. Adam’s shoes are from Rite Aid $8.99.
Bisque fired for 12 hours. Temperature reaches over 1900 degrees. Must wait several hours to cool and be ready for glazing.
If you look very hard you will see Quincy’s leopard print slippers reflected in the kiln proving that every stage of production here at Pearson-Maron is done with class and grace.
Bisqued ceramic is sanded and lightly washed.
Semi-gloss white ceramic low-fire glaze.
Three coats of glaze are applied.
Glazed pieces go in kiln for second firing. They are stilted otherwise they will fuse to whatever surface they are touching.
“Happy Clouds” ~ Bob Ross
step 6: assembly and finishing touches
Wires ready to be painted.
Base coating the wire with first color.
Painting 2nd color stripes on wires.
Cutting wire into smaller pieces.
Stripping away some of the paint so the glue inside the stack will bond directly with the wire.
Squirted a little glue into the stack and placed the wire inside.
Applying glue to cloud piece.
Using a syringe to add activator to glue to help speed up the curing process. If you’ll notice Adam’s nail polish is a little worse for wear at this point. I’ll leave you to wonder if it’s simple error in continuity or real suffering for beauty.
Signing number and date on the bottom.
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