Aluminum Salamanders

We're closing in now. I believe the end of the Age of Aluminum is in sight. The goal this time was to make a good salamander. And I finally went full-in and made properly vented molds.  We started using this cool, albeit perhaps unnecessary, wax-dripper tool that people (like my sister-in-law ) use for decorating Easter Eggs. It helped to glue the sprues and vents to the legs.         Here are all the patterns ready for molding. There was a yoni-lingam, a pinecone and Mrs. Willendorf in there, too. One of the molds had some cardboard fuzz on it from the box I used, reminding me a little of the great footnote about Gilgamesh/Enkidu in Silo's, Universal Root Myths :  "T he fact that Enkidu is born covered with hair (“the hero was born with his body covered with hair as thick as the barley of the fields”) could refer to the visible presence of materials added to reduce plasticity (cereal cuttings, straw, and so on), which were added to the clay to prevent it from cracking...&

Casting in the Snow

On the first snowfall of the... fall (surprise!), I had me some more casting fun in the garage.  I'd like to make a few more good aluminum castings before we wrap up this stage of pyro-history and move on to the Bronze age. I'd like a good salamander specifically, because we haven't made one yet. And we still haven't! This casting session was a bit of a bust, but good times nonetheless.  As usual, we made our plaster molds with sand, then burned out the wax in the toaster oven for a few hours, then continued the burn out in the kiln at around 550º C. Some of these should have stayed in longer because the black soot burns off at a certain point, as you can see here: This time we had new aluminum from an engine casing I found in a back alley - what a find! Crucible with ceramic fibre wrap We went up to 927º but for sure the metal itself wasn't that hot. A little below this temperature I poked it and still felt some thick sections in the crucible. The first time I pour

River Clay (or is it just mud?)

 Three years ago my daughter and I went to the Humber river to find some clay.   And just last week(!), we finally fired the things we made out of that mud/clay.  It took three years not because it needed to, but simply because... well, time passed and we finally got around to finishing the process. :) There's something nice about doing things only when you want to, and not when you're supposed to. So here we are in 2017, digging up mud near the shore. We didn't make any special effort to find what looked like good clay; we just dug up mud to see how it would work.  We had a wonderful day - we saw a mama deer with two fawns, a couple of egrets and a hawk. Who doesn't like playing with mud? Back home, we took the mud we had collected and sieved it to get rid of rocks and other junk material.  And then we drained it and let our 'clean' mud sit in a pail for about... 3 years.  Little seeds started sprouting a short time later. Then in June of this year, we took tha