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Thread: The King of Hearts — progress in pictures — by Welles

  1. #1 The King of Hearts — progress in pictures — by Welles 
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    The King of Hearts is a work in progress. This project hasn't been the result of a single blinding inspiration. It has been a series fo small illuminations and realizations fostered by circumstance and wonderful synchronicities. It began when I wished to give a friend the Aladdin's Lamp and suddenly there was a great void in my artistic world. My eye happened to glance at the rather bedragled crown that had been created for a 'sword in the stone' sculpture before a burglary stole the sword. Bingo! With a modest flash of inspiration the King of Hearts was initiated.

    1. Gluing Up The Hearts. The first stage was gluing up some old growth, clear heart redwood into the general shape of two intersecting hearts.

    2. Rough Carving. The redwood hearts had black magic marker lines drawn on the centers of the heart shaped pieces to be guides as I used a variety of grinders, both air and electric.

    3. Painted. The heart shape and three concentric rings were sprayed a deep midnight blue followed by half a dozen coats of water-based clear satin urethane. The purple heart part of the future stand was glued up and shaped shortly thereafter.

    4. Masked. I carefully printed star maps and created masking tape patterns so that I could use an airbrush to spray the constellations. I used 1. Orion, 2. Cassiopeia, 3. Cepheus, 4. Ursus Major, 5. Ursus Minor, 6. Canis Major, 7. The Pleiades, 8. Gemeni, and 9. Virgo. After the constellations were painted several more coats of urethane sealed them.

    5. Ready for Gold. As of March 22 all the work on the basic heart of the sculpture have veen done. The crown is hand polished to a mirror finish and ready for gold plating.

    6. Starting the Stand. During that burglary I mentioned earlier the kids also stole the wooden stand to Inqire Within. It had taken me a year to carve and was a devastating loss. When they were threatened with exposure they threw it into a small ravine with a creek running through it. There some neighbors found it and I was able to retrieve most of it albeit in pieces. Another small, very gratifying, inspiration let me see how to turn that old story of destruction in a glorious resurrection for the stand of The King of Hearts. It won't be at all like the original.

    7. Recarving. I spent a good six days recarving and gluing up the old broken stand. It has been rough sanded and I've started carving the embellishments that will become part of it. It might take a of day or a little more to get a finer sanding job done (from 150 grit to 220). Then the whole thing gets epoxy saturated and resanded once more prior to beginning the painting. This is all hand work and it is coming along beautifully, if slowly.

    8. Star detail for feet. This is one of those details that will seldom, if ever be seen once the KoH is complete but it will add texture and dimension to the feeling of the piece. The stars are maple and started as 3/16" thick blanks. Carving all those edges (80 of 'em but whose counting?) and sanding them to be ready for finishing took nearly an hour apiece. It is worth it? Yes! They will be painted white. The rest of the feet and stand will be the same blue as the heart.

    9. Ready for penetrating epoxy. I know that this image doesn't seem to show much progress but it really is there. After a good six hours the stand is finely sanded to a 220 grit and ready to get a coat of penetrating epoxy. That will fill pores and small cracks and when cured not only stabilizes the wood so ambient moisture changes won't cause expansinons and contractions. Additionally it acts like a primer to which the next layer of paint chemically bonds. Besides I wanted to see the stand with the stars in place.

    10. Epoxies. There isn't too much observable change here. I applied Smith & Co.'s Clear Penetrating Epoxy to seal the wood and act as a primer that chemically bonds with the paint applied on top of it. My primary goal is to limit moisture expansion. The white fill is an epoxy paste applied after the pentetrating so there is a powerful chemical bond. Twenty four hours later sanding once more. Several hours later the stand was finally ready for the first coat of paint.

    11. Painting. What you see is the first coat of midnight blue. What you won't see are the subsequent four additional coats followed by clear water-based urethane. That gives the whole thing a smooth and very deep look. Update: I've been adding coats of urethane for the last week. The stand is nearly ready to have stars painted on it (followed by a few more coats of finish). This process is time consuming but the result is something so finished it looks to have been simply extruded in space. Yeah!

    12. Dangling Stars. These three little stars are carved from 3/4" maple. In the picture you'll see three panels. First the shape was printed and spray glued to the wood, cut out and a center mark made with a felt pen to help the carving. Next the paper was sanded off and both sides marked with the lines that were my guides. The carving was done free-hand with an air grinder and fine carbide grit carving burrs. In the third panel are the finished stars ready to eventually be attached to the three branches of the stand. They were painted and given about 4 coats of clear urethane on top of the color coat.

    13. Pedestal Painted. This is an update to the pedestal that you last saw in the shop after the first coat of blue. In this picture (nearly 3 weeks later) there have been four coats of midnight blue applied followed by about 10 coats of water-based semi-gloss urethane. It is hard to capture all the work that went into the pedestal. Next it gets stars hand painted on the column and then a few more coats of urethane. It will be done relatively soon considering some of this sculpture is more than 30 years old.

    14. Redirection! From the beginning of the project I had imagined a purple heart table on top of the pedestal to support the other elements of the sculpture. It's funny how the creative process works. When it came time to make the table there was no purple heart available anywhere in Santa Cruz. Somebody had purchased all of it. It might be a month or more before there was new stock. Even the distributors of harwood 50 miles away were out. In frustration I went online and purchased the wood sight-unseen from another state. It arrived and looked OK so I glued it up. I've used a lot of purple heart and never had it react like this did. The top warped severely and sap was oozing from parts of the grain pattern. It was a failure. I studied the problem and couldn't come up with a solution that I believed would be permanent.

    So I stopped, examined the failure from all points of view and listened for an answer. After an hour or two it came to me. Use maple which is extremely stable and finish it in a complementary fashion to the stand. I love this solution. My feeling is that the King of Hearts will be much more dramatic because of this unexpected redirection. The picture you see is the failed purple heart and the new maple top being glued up.

    15. Table Top cut out and first paint job. In the previous picture you see the failed purple heart top and the glued up maple. Here you see the maple cut to shape, sanded, routed and coated with penetrating epoxy in the top of the picture. The bottom of the picture is the first paint job.

    16. Starry Stand. After the stand got about 4 coats of midnight blue and 8 or so coats of clear satin urethane I cut out stencils of 5 sizes of stars. Those were traced on masking tape (12 of each) and then cut out with an exacto knife. Then the masks were stuck all over the 'trunk' of the stand adjusting the distribution as I went. Then each star was painted by hand. The process of carefully adjusting the outlines where they bled prior to more coats of urethane was interrupted by my eye surgery. Sigh. Time out to heal!

    17. Putting the pieces together. I’ve been at work consistently with the exception of a month off for eye surgery and a recovery period. Here are the results of that effort. To recap the materials... The crown is gold-plated steel. The heart is old growth redwood as are the doohickies that support the crown. The table top is maple and the stand is ash. The two glass inlays are sand-blasted and the resulting design filled with white paint. Oh yes the whole piece is about 64” tall.

    18. Glass and Frame. The last piece of this artwork is a glass and wood 'case' that will be made of 5 pieces of slumped glass (think of the shape of skylight bubbles) in a wooden framework. To do that requires a stainless steel frame that will be supported on bricks in a kiln. The edges will be supported as the center area becomes molten and 'slumps'. In this picture you can see the pieces of stainless angle before welding and of the pieces of glass. The edge of the stainless has been rounded and one side polished. The glass is low-iron. Low-iron glass is a type of high-clarity glass that is made from silica with very low amounts of iron. This low level of iron removes the greenish-blue tint that can be seen especially on larger and thicker sizes of glass. It is amazingly clear!

    Stay tuned!


    Welles
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  2. #2 Guing up the hearts. 
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    Name:  1.GlueUp.jpg
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  3. #3 Rugh Carving 
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  4. #4 Painted 
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  5. #5 Masked 
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  6. #6 Reay for Gold 
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    That's a 24" ruler. It is 17" high at this stage.
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  7. #7 Starting the Stand 
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  8. #8 Recarving 
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  9. #9 Star detail for feet 
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  10. #10 Ready for Penetrating Epoxy 
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