Seen Today
rainbow 001One of my students has a rainbow Mohawk.

A lone javelina paused as I stopped so that it could cross the road.

Waiting at a bus stop, a woman with a sulfur yellow blouse, chartreuse slacks and a red parasol.

A student (~18) chatted with secretary for student finances (~50) about Game of Thrones.

In the mail got a letter from Martinez Funeral Chapels – You’re Invited!


For the second year, quail nested in a large potted plant in the far corner of my upstairs deck. I put chicken wire all about it so that the cat couldn’t get to them, but so that they could fly out over or under the railing. However, I did need to water the plant every few days. Whenever I did, one of the parents flew out, screaming at me.

Last Friday I walked into the kitchen; the cat was on the deck looked guilty, and a quail, in the closest tree, was making a racket. I put the cat in, but didn’t realize that she had eaten a chick, which had jumped out of the container, until she threw it up on the bedroom carpet. (I had also seen one of these almost-eaten baby birds in the garden, so maybe she had done this before.) Anyway, the next day as I was cooking, I saw a small, flightless chick running about the deck, its father in the tree, giving it encouragement to jump. Unfortunately, later in the day I found the dead chick on the ground.

Had any of them survived a jump of 12 feet?  Last year I never saw any of the chicks, either alive or dead. (Only two unhatched eggs and three broken ones.) I checked the plant last night; no parents around. Six broken shells, so if only the three which I saw had died, they have three chicks left alive.  Four unhatched eggs, but one of them slightly broken, with feathers showing, so it looks like the quail could have had a larger family with more patience.  I put the eggs in the rosemary, in case a snake or other critter wants to eat them.


I’ve mentioned the class I’m taking at Pima College on Lost Wax Sculpture Casting,1 and the egg crate I cast in aluminum, as well as three eggs (with faces) in bronze.  The agony continues.  (Note: aluminum we don’t pay for; we just melt down old engine blocks.  The bronze is $6.50/ lb.)

I didn’t mention that for the egg crate, I first dipped it in wax and using a heat gun (like a hair dryer but much hotter) to melt off the unsightly drips.

The problem was spruing it (a sprue is the passage through which liquid material is introduced into a mold) – connecting the top and bottom of the crate at one end with gates which are attached to the cup, where is molten metal is poured.  Attaching one-inch diameter sticks of wax to cardboard is not easy.

Then the vents (thinner sticks of wax) which allow the air to escaped need to be attached to every cup bottom (I should have used a six-egg carton!) and the points between the cups on the inside.  (I set the crate open at 45°, also a bit of a mistake, but more of that later.)

wax 009You can read about my trials and tribulations on the last Lost Wax blog.1

Here a photo of the bottom cup, one gate (in red wax) and numerous vents (also in red wax) for another student’s dragon.

Had some alginate left over from casting my grandkids’ hands to make plaster molds.  (You’ve probably seen those kits at Michaels.)  So made a mold of a hard-boiled egg, did five castings of wax (after the egg was removed), until the mold died, and molded faces into the wax.  Then cast them.

wax 001wax 002Both the egg crate and the eggs needed nine coats of silicone slurry each followed by stucco made of Ranco-Sil fused Silica A (fine – three coats) and C (coarse – six coats).  Each coat must have at least 20 minutes to dry, so it takes a while.  Plus you must wear a mask as the silica is very bad for your lungs.  (Another student dipping and coating her sculpture with silica.)

RANCOSIL fused silica is electrically fused high purity silica. Fused silica has a low thermal conductivity and excellent thermal shock resistance.

wax 006wax 014wax 007
Note the heat-resistant Kevlar outfit the student who is working with the kiln has to wear.

lost wax 001Here is a photo of the three eggheads after they have been sprued, dipped many times to make the ceramic shell, and the wax has been burnt out at 1600°F.  (The shells are placed on refractory bricks with holes in them so that the wax may melt out and get reused.)

wax 001But the shell does not break off easily.  It took me seven hours, first with a mallet, then with a drill, and finally with finer dremel tools and the sandblaster to get all of the shell off the egg carton.

Then had to cut off the vents and gates, shown here at left after most of the shell is gone.

wax 005Photo of it here with regular dyed eggs and the three bronze ones.  (Click on the photo to see the details.)  One egg is green from sitting over a bit of ammonia in a jar, and the pinkish one was heated and dunked in coca cola.


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One Response to “Wax+”

  1. Lynn Shore Says:

    Wow! you are doing some interesting stuff! I was thinking of you on May 1, and the delightful luncheon at your condo. And the flowers.

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