Thursday, April 28, 2011

**Work in Progress** Abtu and Anet, Chapter 2

Abtu and Anet, Chapter 2, more progress shots.

Once I have the pattern drawn on the copper, the fun begins. I first cut the mask off the main sheet, keeping the lines as close as possible to the pattern, with my sheer. I then come back and cut as many of the long, exterior lines as possible with the sheer. It can do fairly sharp curves, but it is very hard to get the saw in to finish any uncompleted lines, so I'm careful in what I attempt. The first shot here is post shear. The rest of the cutting is done with a jeweler's saw and a scroll saw. The hand saw is rather faster, but the very deep throat on the scroll saw is sometimes neccesary- the long tails on the fish in this mask made it one of those times. I was unable to do much of anything with my 5 inch jeweler's saw.
Once the mask is cut out, every edge has to be sanded. This is the largest single chunk of time in the making of a metal mask, but any unsanded edge will cut, so it must be done, and done carefully. I sand and bevel all the edges with my flexshaft and sanding disks, and follow after with my bare finger to check on things.
Only then does the forging begin. I work my copper cold, but in order to prevent cracking, anneal often. So I anneal, then texture, then anneal, then form, then anneal, form more, etc. This mask had a whole lot of texture, but no complex forming, and I got away with only annealing twice.
The texture on this mask was made with two hammers- one is my go to forming hammer, the other I made just for the scales on the fish. I modified the end of a very old hammer I've had around for a while. In fact, it's the one that I usually carry around in my bag, but it was in the studio, and I used it. I filed it to shape, then sanded it to a bright finish. The finish on the mask is defined by the finish on the hammer, so the better polish I have there, the less work I'll have later.
After texturing, I annealed again. I knew this was the last pass with the torch, and so was very careful with how I heated everything in order to get the precise coloration that I wanted. I wanted a bright, symetrical nose, with darker, red/purple on the bodies and tails; I annealed everything, then came back with a bushy flame, swinging back and forth across the bodies, in diminishing swings till settling right on the nose. I heated the nose up to bright orange, turned of the torch, let everything cool for a split second, and quenched in cold water.
This is still only the third picture. After that, i bring a stake, and start forming the mask to a face shape. This means punching out the nose, bringing down the cheeks, and taking the inner corners of the eyes in. Not until the nose is perfect to I start forming the rest of the face- and this last bit I do with my fingers, using a hammer only if necessary. Once complete, I wax the whole mask, inside and out, heat it a tiny bit, and buff it shiny.
Abtu and Anet still need a sun, but the mask part is complete. 

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