Posted in Art

Studio Notes 30/08/19

Sometimes I think that updating a weekly journal of creative accomplishments is a bit much. Other times I think it’s the only reason I get anything done.

It’s only because I realised all to soon that Friday had rolled around yet again and I hadn’t got the jump on anything I’d planned to work on that I got moving so I could come here and write, “look, I tried!”

Studio Notes 26/07/19

I spent a fair amount of time creating moulds for other people this week, and now I can say I have a much better handle on mixing good DIY silicone moulds. so the entire process is a lot cleaner and less chaotic than it was when I started.

As for high-temperature silicone moulds, I sure have learned some valuable lessons over the last few weeks. I need to buy some more to make more moulds, but that might just have to wait a bit longer while I tie up loose ends on my current job.

The final pour… and what’s next

Of course I’d find myself melting metal in my kitchen in the middle of a heatwave. I just had to have another go to perfect my cast – or get as close to perfecting as I could.

Thing is, it’s actually not perfect, and it eats me up inside. I have a major problem with perfectionism that I’m constantly trying to tackle, and sometimes I think it’s a miracle I put anything on display in the first place.

But logical Lee knows it’s not helpful; sometimes you need to accept what you’ve got and work with it. It’s miles better than my prototype, and when I look at the finish I achieved with that, it makes me think that this one will be great when I’ve finished with the engraving.

So yeah, time to move this thing on already.

Cutting the thing off the sprue with a hacksaw was bad enough, but here comes the dirty, noisy bit – getting the engraving tools out and grinding/carving/polishing the metal until it’s just right.

I think I need a hazmat suit to cover me from head to toe this time, because I’m not showering myself in pewter particles again. Nope.

To copper electroplate or not?

Copper electroplating – another layer of faff or something I need to do?

When I first conceived of this coin sculpture, I wanted it to be in copper. I liked the idea that copper coins are usually those of lowest value, whilst copper itself is quite expensive nowadays. Plus, copper is just so pretty…

So now I have to make up my mind as to whether or not I’ll invest in a copper electroplating kit to enhance this coin (and others to follow). I’ve got more supplies on my list that I need to buy, and last month’s purchasing kinda wiped my budget out, so I think I need to get on with making more of the coin collection before I commit to their final finish.

Last week

Next week

Studio Notes 26/07/19

Studio Notes 19/07/19

This has to be a bit hurried, as I’m so, so tired…

After a week of experiments, I’ve produced my best cast yet, and it was partly down to a surprising find along the way. No, it’s not what I consider to be perfect, but I fixed the problem of the mould not filling all the way. Anyway, here’s the story of that find:

Into the spidery shed

The springform cake tin was a great idea for keeping hold of a round mould, but RTV silicone doesn’t like to be cast on its side – it won’t vent steam like oil bonded sand will, so it just forms mega bubbles, even with an incline. It has to be vertical.

That meant that I had to clamp it in place vertically and apply pressure on the sides to keep the mould tightly in place, or else all my pewter would just dump out into the bottom of the cake tin.

I was trying to come up with some system for jerryrigging a clamp – maybe a car jack wedged into a box? – and got Ste on board to excavate a box from our spider-riddled shed. As the spider-spotting backup, I was peering into the dim wooden cavern when I spotted a box we hadn’t seen before.

It was an unopened clamping table!

An unopened Wolfcraft 150 clamping table found in my shed.

The exact model isn’t made any more, but this is the closest version.

The previous owners had obviously abandoned it to the eight-legged shed denizens, and somehow I’d never seen it before.

Although the nuts, bolts and plastic pieces were still sealed in their plastic bags, there was a fair bit of corrosion and that dank shed smell. Still, I put it all together the same day. It needs a bit of oiling and messing around with to help it fold up, but set up, it’s just right for the job.

I can’t believe that I just happened to find the exact thing I needed! I couldn’t have done the casting without it.

Tips for pewter casting

I’ll have to write this up as a separate post, of course, but here are this week’s discoveries:

  • Fill from below. When you pour hot metal into a mould, you create turbulence in the flow of the metal – steam, bubbles, slag, all rolling around. You need to cut this out, and to do this, you need to fill your mould from the bottom up. This means having a separate pouring spout that feeds your mould from below.
  • Use a tapered sprue. This helps to reduce turbulence as well, controlling the flow of the metal.
  • Make your sprue big enough. The metal may freeze before filling the mould if you don’t.
  • Plan your sprue and gating system into the mould making process. I didn’t do this… I did rely on the fact that I could cut the silicone afterwards, which is less than ideal, and means that I’ve had to patch some bits with oil-bonded sand.
  • Wax acts as a flux, but don’t add too much. Pretty self-explanatory.

Now that I’ve achieved this week’s goal, I’m going to carry on with another job: helping my husband create some of his own moulds. I’m refining my DIY silicone mould-making technique and scoring major brownie points at the same time!

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Studio Notes 19/07/19

Studio Notes 05/07/19

I got that push to finish and publish my second journal, and do you know why? Because I made a massive mistake with casting my coin and had to do something with myself while I was waiting for more silicone to arrive.

It seems as though I’m mostly reporting on huge failures, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it feels like to me sometimes!

Still, at least I have enough to get on with to fill in the gaps when things don’t go perfectly.

Mould making, the right way

Confession time – I know how to make two-part moulds, and I know how to make even more complex, multiple-part moulds. I’ve been doing mouldmaking for 20 years now, so I have a handle on the basics… so what the heck is up with my recent run of catastophes?

The simple answer is that the silicone I’ve been using has given me the option of being lazy, and faced with that option, I’ve grabbed at it with both hands like a desperate woman.

Why lazy? Well, you can cast a solid block and then cut it apart, unlike with plaster. Working that way around, what happened was that my pouring spout was too narrow to accommodate an adequate flow of silicone, so with an 8 minute pouring time, I ended up with a lot of silicone that had gone off before I could use it.

Fast forward a few days and another batch of silicone, and I made the mould the right way. Don’t be lazy, kids.

Prepping for a new casting project

I’m not just working on the coin, though. I’ve got a plan for my soap base in mind, and my poor plastic artist’s assistant is getting roped in as a model.

Right now I have to pull up the handbrake on work though, as the studio contents have spilled over (in some cases, literally) to the rest of the house and I have to scoop up all of the leftover silicone that’s been chipped up for recycling and clean off all of the wax I tipped over the cooker and the kitchen floor yesterday…

Will I get to cast the pewter next week? Maybe, but maybe I’ll work on prepping the rest of the things I want to cast at the same time. We’re looking at getting or making a casting flask for sand casting, so I may work on that instead.

Last week

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Studio Notes 05/07/19

Fonts For Drawing

Following on from my previous post about fonts for painting, I wanted to put together a list of my favourite typefaces that are reminiscent of drawing styles.

Typefaces for artists: fonts for drawing

Typefaces for drawing often draw on (sorry) a particular style of broken or wavering line quality that immediately suggests the involvement of an imperfect human hand.

Although that’s not the one and only thing that denotes a hand-drawn mark, it’s one of the features that catches our interest and tells us straight away what this typeface is about.

We think of hand-drawn lettering as honest, simple and pure: the most down-to-earth, natural form of art we can produce. So even if your project has nothing to do with art but needs to pinch some of that creative mythos, these fonts are an ideal place to start.

Macarons Font Family

Macarons is a hand-drawn font package that comes in five weights:

  • Macarons Light
  • Macarons
  • Macarons Bold
  • Macarons Sketch
  • Macarons Bold Sketch

There’s also a set of “catchwords” and ornaments included. I really like this typeface – it has a serious tone to its form that’s undercut by its wibbly-wobblyness. It’s as though Times New Roman stopped taking its medication.

Even better, it looks as though it could lend itself well to linocut or woodcut styles.

Buy on DesignCuts

The Hand Font Collection

The Hand - hand drawn font

The Hand Font Collection contains 7 fonts in different weights – light, regular, bold, black, xblack and two dotted versions. That’s a great package that covers a range of styles.

The Hand Font Collection - 7 hand-drawn typefaces

The Hand Light is reminiscent of the faint trace of a mechanical pencil (reminds me of Technical Drawing at school) or fineliner, whereas The Hand Xblack gives you an impression of wielding a felt-tip marker.

The dotted versions are great for complementing stippled effects.

Buy on Creative Market


Thornback hand drawn scribbly font

Thornback is an extremely charming scribbly font that somehow reminds me of the Sunday comics, but at the same time could just as easily be tipped over the spiky edge of anarchy.

It’s a great typeface for anyone who wants to keep it loose, but still maintain and element of control – this has both.

Buy on Creative Market

Chalky Letters font collection

Chalky Letters font for drawing

The Chalky Letters font collection has a beautiful, delicate illustrative quality to it, and it’s amazing how many combinations you can make.

This collection contains 17 fonts in all, including a set of decorative extras. It’s hard to imagine getting through all of the possible combinations!

Chalky Letters fonts for drawing

I’m really impressed by this font package. Also, with just a bit of imagination this could be effectively used to illustrate other dry media such as pastel and charcoal – it doesn’t have to be all white-on-black.

Buy on Creative Market

Earth Elements Typeface

Earth Elements Typeface for drawing

I almost bypassed Earth Elements, as the jagged lines of the chalky capitals didn’t quite grab me at first. However, once I saw the quirky, flimsy lines of Earth Element soft, the script type included in this package, I was hooked.

The soft script reminds me of doodling with a 6B pencil on not-pressed paper, and the regular script looks like a charcoal attack. It’s a fantastic duo, and the bonus vector pack has some great, smudgy elements to complement the text.

Buy on Creative Market

Faun Font Duo

Faun Font Duo - font for drawing

Faun is a fun, over-the-top, impressive decorative display font. It would be absolutely perfect for accompanying adult colouring books or for working alongside a strong graphic style, but beware – something this big and bold can easily overshadow artwork and steal the show, so use wisely!

Buy on DesignCuts

Quendel Happy Family Fingertip

Quendel Happy Family Fingertip - fonts for drawing

I’m glad that I found Quendel Happy Family Fingertip – it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on with this font thanks to the confusing imagery which shows all four of the fonts available in this “family”, but this one is the Fingertip version only.

It’s a negative space typeface – imagine drawing with your finger on the beach, or pushing around some graphite dust on a smooth board. I think it’s really interesting and gets to the heart of mark-making.

Buy on Creative Market

My fonts for drawing have incorporated styles reminiscent of finger painting, pencil, charcoal, fineliner and chalk – I’m pretty pleased with that! I hope it’s helped you as well.

More like this: fonts for painting.

Typefaces for artists: fonts for drawing