Tag: metal

Conjoined Twins Project


This time last year, I was taking my first sculpture class at JMU. Sculpture is super intimidating for me, but I really surprised myself with the work I did in that class. I mentioned this in a previous post about my sculpture class, but the theme of our final project was conjoined twins. We were free to make basically any kind of sculpture that related to this topic. My professor encouraged us to do a lot of research and explore all possibilities. We scheduled one-on-one meetings with him to discuss our findings and ideas.

I did a bit of research on conjoined twins in general and learned that there are many different types of conjoined twins. One type that particularly caught my interest was parasitic twins. Parasitic twins occur when twins begin developing, but don’t fully separate, and one of the twins becomes dominant at the expense of the other twin. The parasitic twin is therefore severely undeveloped and often does not resemble another human at all, rather, extra body parts. The word “parasite” has such a negative connotation and that’s what I wanted to base my project on. I didn’t want to make something that parasitic twins would actually wear or use, I wanted to create a statement piece. My idea was to alter a jacket to fit grown parasitic twins if they were to make it into adulthood. I wanted to add a cage to the front to reflect the negative connotation of the term “parasitic” and to communicate a feeling of shame and embarrassment.

DSC_0431 DSC_0413

I have very limited experience in altering fabric, so this project was definitely a challenge. I got most of my supplies from Goodwill over Thanksgiving break: a wool coat, two belts, a patterned skirt, and a red button-up shirt (which I ended up not using because of time limitations). The first thing I had to do once I had my supplies was to create the cage. I created the cage by cutting a few rods of steel, bending them, and then welding them together.I added an extra horizontal rod at the top of the cage to hold a “curtain” that I cut from the patterned skirt. The pattern on the skirt was a cluster of black leaves on a white background. I chose this pattern as a reference to Adam and Eve covering themselves with leaves out of shame after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. In the case of this project, the leaves are used to hide the parasitic twin out of shame.

DSC_0421Twin Jacket Collage

With the cage completed, I was able to figure out how to attach it to the coat. Because of my lack of practice doing this kind of work, my method was pretty crude. I did a lot of “guesstimating” and hoped that it would end up close to how I envisioned. I cut out most of the front of the wool coat and then sewed one side to the cage using thick red embroidery thread. I used the color red not only for unity because the coat itself has red in it, but I also used it to emphasize the sense of invasion. I attached two belt buckles to the other side of the coat, which then fastened to the ends of the belts that I sewed onto one bar of the cage. I’m happy to report that it turned out really nicely–in fact, it exceeded my expectations. The only problem was that the end product was a bit too large when I modeled it, which took away from the effect. Other than that, I was really happy with it and so was my professor.

DSC_0410 DSC_0415

Have you ever created wearable sculpture art? Let me know about your experience in the comments! Thanks for reading :]


Working with Metal Part 3

Click here for Working with Metal Part 1 and Working with Metal Part 2 :]

If you’ve been reading my posts about a metals class I took, you should know what this last one is about. A ring! Our final project was left pretty open–we just had to make one ring that was fairly detailed or a set of simpler rings. Like always, we were encouraged to think outside the box, but making a traditional ring was acceptable too. I love rings, especially big ones, so I already knew I wanted to make something big that I could actually wear. After going over some ideas with my professor, we decided that my idea with the most potential was a simple band with a large hemisphere shape on top that consisted of sheets of metal soldered together.

The first step in creating this ring was to create a circle template which I did on Adobe Illustrator. I then adhered the templates to sheets of copper and brass and began sawing away. I cut out a total of 10 circles in order to get the size that I wanted. Then it was time to start soldering. Since I was soldering sheet to sheet, I had to use sweat solders:

My layered idea meant that I had to do multiple sweat solders..a challenge because I risked melting previous solders and having the layers slide apart. Anyway, this was my soldering plan:

The sheets of metal alternated between brass and copper. I spent several hours soldering the ten circles together and when I was on the last one, there was a gap in the solder that I tried over and over again to fill, but without success. My professor helped me by holding one blowtorch while I held another and we held the flames to the metal until all of a sudden the gap was filled and everything else stayed in place.

Now that I had all of the pieces soldered together, it was time to smooth out the edges into a dome shape. I did this on the sanding belt. It took a while, but I finally got the shape I wanted. After smoothing it out with sandpaper, I started on the band for the ring. Since I spent so much time on the ring, I made the band as simple as possible, for lack of time. I took a pretty thick wire, flattened it, bent it to the size of my finger, and smoothed out the edges. Finally, I had to solder the band to the dome part, which was surprisingly harder than making the dome itself. After several tries, I finally got it to work, and aside from some finishing touches, the ring was done:

After showing it to my professor, he told me that I could work on the dome part a little more, because it was still a bit uneven. I took his advice and and sanded it down a little more. Now it was really done:

You may notice that the copper looks darker in the final pictures–that’s because it had been gradually oxidizing since I finished it. One thing I would change about the ring if I did it again is the band. I would spend more time on it and make it thicker since the dome is so large. It seems unbalanced with such a small, narrow band. However, I was very satisfied with the final product. I put a lot of work into it and I’m very proud of how it turned out :] Thanks for reading!






Working with Metal Part 2

Note: If you haven’t read part 1 yet, check it out here!

If you read part 1 of this series of posts, you know that I took a metal and jewelry class last semester at JMU. After spending roughly a month creating flatware, my professor introduced the piercing project. The first thing we did was have a discussion about the definition and functions of piercings. We concluded that a piercing is an adornment usually worn on or through the skin or other body part. We talked about what society thinks about people with piercings and what message these people are trying to send. Our discussion also included identifying which metals were safe to go through skin and establishing criteria for a good piercing such as easy to put in, stays in, doesn’t poke, lightweight, etc. However, my professor emphasized that we didn’t necessarily have to make a “good” piercing, for example a heavy earring could symbolize some type of hardship or obstacle.

After the discussion, my professor instructed us to brainstorm. This meant coming up with a list of 100 piercing ideas, and then taking 20 of those ideas and sketching them. It was much harder than I thought it would be to do this, but I eventually dragged out 100 ideas from my brain and picked out the best ones to show to my professor. My initial idea was to do two different earrings (because I like asymmetry when it comes to earrings…). One would move up and around the ear and the other earring would dangle from the other ear. I also decided that the dangly earring would be made in two parts, a front piece and a back piece. Like the first project, I ended up focusing on design and came up with these sketches:

I started with the dangly earring first, deciding it would be a bit easier to make. First, I got some pieces of copper wire to practice making the curves and having all the pieces fit together so that I’d be able to solder them. After kind of getting the hang of it, I started the real piece. I used different wire gauges for each section, cutting them longer than I needed them. Then I noted each end that would be curled and sanded those down to a point with a sanding belt. After smoothing the ends out, I curled them with pliers and then bent each piece until they fit together enough for me to solder them. The soldering was the most difficult part since I was dealing with thin pieces that I couldn’t keep together very well. I had to solder some parts over and over again (this included waiting 5-15 minutes to get rid of the oxidation in between) before I got them to stay together. I ended up with random spots of solder on the wire that I would have to sand off later. Finally I got the whole front part of the earring to stay together, and it looked like this:

I decided to start on my second earring at this point. I wasn’t even sure how to begin, so I just got a long piece of fairly thick wire, sanded down the ends into points, and started twisting and curling. I was a little disappointed because the end product was not what I had in mind:

It looked rough and was hard to get it to stay on my ear. Sooo, I decided to make two dangly earrings. This was kind of a last minute decision so I spent about 8 hours of my precious Saturday (or was it Sunday…) making an earring as close to the first one as I could. It was definitely easier the second time around, although I accidentally melted one of the tips so you’ll notice that one earring has a curled tip and one is in the shape of a ball (oops). Finally, I soldered a sterling silver post onto the back of each earring. Once I finished, I focused on the back piece and decided to have something abstract-looking hanging from behind the ear. I basically took scrap metal and alternately akneeled and hammered the pieces. Then I took small pieces of sterling silver sheet and drilled two holes in each piece (cutting my finger in the process). I also drilled a hole in each piece of abstract scrap copper. I bought a few yards of copper chain over the weekend to connect the silver and copper pieces. All I had left to do were some finishing touches and…


P.S. You can’t silver plate copper! I found that out too late..Oh well :P




Working with Metal Part 1

Last semester, I took a Metal and Jewelry class at JMU. I was excited because I love jewelry and I get to learn how to make it? Awesome. Looking back, it was a roller coaster of a class, but all the ups and downs (including minor injuries) were worth it. I learned how to use a variety of tools and machines and developed a knowledge of skills such as akneeling the metal to make it bendable, creating a patina with heat or chemicals, soldering various forms together, silver-plating, sanding and filing, riveting, sawing, drilling, cutting, twisting, and so on.

Throughout the semester, we had ten exercises and three projects. Some of the exercises included sawing a curved line, giving sheet metal a texture, soldering a wire to a sheet, and creating three different rivets. The first project was a flatware project. We had a discussion about flatware and the difference between cheap flatware (such as plastic utensils) and quality flatware. For instance, the weight of a spoon is an effective indicator of its quality–the heavier, the better, as long as it’s still comfortable to hold in your hand, place in your mouth, etc. While we were allowed to stick to traditional forms and focus on handle designs, my professor encouraged us to push the boundaries a little. He said that our flatware could be functional or non-functional. We could make flatware for a certain type of person (a skinny model…) or a certain type of food (french fry picker, anyone?).

After lots of brainstorming and sketching, I decided to focus on just the form of the flatware itself. My idea was to create a relationship between soft curves and hard straight lines within each piece. The first thing I did was practice how to effectively curve back one side of a metal handle. This involved a lot of sanding, a lot of heat, and a lot of hammering. The final sample piece looked kind of rough but now I knew what to do. I started by drawing the layout of each utensil on a piece of paper and then gluing the paper to a piece of 14 gauge copper sheet. Then I cut everything out with a tiny saw, sanded and filed down the sides that would be curved back, akneeled each piece, and started hammering away. Here’s how they looked at this point:

After this point, I cut out the tines of the fork, sanded those a little, and gave the spoon its bowl shape, which was a lot harder that I thought it would be. The last thing I had to do was basically refine the utensils, and this seemed to take the longest time. Because of so much hammering, the pieces had lots of marks and dents that I couldn’t leave, so I spent hours upon hours sanding and filing, trying to get rid of them. (Part of the assignment also required us to use two different rivets within our project, but those didn’t turn out too well and are not pictured in the final image because I took them out.)

After about a month of working on this project, here is how my “copperware” turned out:










Light and Shade are Colors

I’m taking an introduction to painting class this semester, and our first assignment consisted of the three paintings above. There were three still lives set up in the classroom for a few weeks and we had to make a small painting of each one. The main focus was to depict light and shadows with colors instead of merely black and white. The hardest for me was the glass vase, but surprisingly it turned out to be the most successful out of the three.

The paintings were done in three general steps. Each step consisted of blocks of color, with the blocks getting more frequent with each progressing step. I rarely paint in this way, but I found it to be extremely effective for the assignment. I don’t usually paint things completely realistically, but I definitely had fun with these paintings.