This week, I finished the students glaze firings at my studio and now I am frantically trying to finish several ceramic sculptures for submission to an upcoming museum show. I needed a frame to add to one of my sculptures, so I taught myself to solder copper tubing. After watching a few plumber’s YouTube videos, I had a good start with some confidence and determination.
I had a specific idea in mind when I created the clay sculpture of the two sisters. I left two holes in the back to insert a frame halo or fan shaped frame to compliment the two sisters having a deep connection. I also wanted to have the option to remove the halo for shipping or transporting.
I first created a template, then did a few prototypes in wire but I still was not happy with the results. I wanted the halo to be strong and fit into the holes in the now fired ceramic work. My first attempt at the idea involved using sculpture mesh wire with a heavy wire for support. After making it, it was not the right look.
So back to the drawing board. Then I had the brilliant idea of using hammered copper tubing creating the desired shapes for the halo.
With the help of the video lessons, I took my propane torch, solder and copper learning a great deal of what not to do and what works best. Below are the results of the my first attempt at creating the halo form in hammered copper tubing. I have far to go, but my vision began to take shape and I am happy with the project.
Next, I will use the metal file and take off any messy solder and cut off any excess copper. Then I will use a special mixture of porcelain, PVA glue and Japanese Rice Paper applied over the copper frame with added weaved copper wire. Once dry, I will coat the halo with bleached beeswax. Hopefully, the results will manifest itself from a creative vision to a finished ceramic sculpture.
The unfinished hammered copper tubing frame inserted into the back of the sculpture. It fits like a glove. Next, I will refine the copper with a metal file taking off the excess solder and trim some of the pieces. Hopefully, I will not have to clean up too much solder in the future. Practice makes perfect!