Previously: Part 1 (Making the Sculptures)
Part 2 – Fixing and Finishing (The Rest of the Story)
In the previous post I got the two sculptures loaded into the kiln and held my breath throughout the entire bisque fire. When I finally opened the lid and got down to the bottom shelf I found this:
The male sculpture was in pieces. The spot where I had attached one of the logo slabs was too thick and must not have thoroughly dried. Even after preheating the kiln for a few hours. See, the kiln is supposed to hold at 200 degrees F for a few hours, just below boiling to drive out any excess water. But if there is still water inside any of the clay when the kiln reaches 212 F the water turns to steam and… kapow.
The sculpture didn’t seem to have the explosive force like other things I’ve seen but it sent cracks across the width of the base and turned a chunk of the base into tiny pieces. Luckily, there were enough larger pieces to make it easy to put back together.
The female sculpture turned out just fine. Some of the zombie body and one foot had pulled away from the base but it was all pretty solid. I added a little adhesive just to make sure it wouldn’t fall apart later.
So after realizing what had happened, and deciding not to scrap the whole project, I started to make a new plan. Glazing and re-firing were out since the heat would cause any glue that I know of to melt and fall apart in a glaze fire.
I set out for Lowes to find the strongest, easiest to use glue or epoxy I could find, some spray paint and anything else I could talk my wife into letting me keep. After about 5 minutes in the adhesive aisle I picked out a 5 Minute Epoxy and some Liquid Nails. Then after about 30 minutes in the paint aisle I came up with a $6 can of metallic bronze spray paint and a $0.99 can of black.
Back at home I got to work gluing the pieces back together. It went pretty slow because I only did a piece or two at a time. I held the pieces together with rubber bands and duct tape so they wouldn’t move while drying. Over the course of 2 or 3 days I got all the big pieces put back together. But then I had another problem. There was still a hole in the middle of the base about the width of a pop can. All the pieces that used to be there were tiny or microscopic. There was no way I could have put them back together and lived to tell about it.
I decided the easiest option would be to fill in the whole with plaster of paris. I went down to the basement and found all my plaster. I taped a piece of plastic on the bottom of the base so the plaster wouldn’t run all over when I poured it in the hole. I love duct tape!
As I was mixing the plaster I noticed it seemed to be a little lumpier than I remembered. But I continued and poured it in the hole. I smoothed it out and let it dry. The good news is that the plastic on the bottom worked wonderfully. But when I started to carve off some of the excess plaster it crumbled like wet sand.
So I scraped out the crappy plaster and repeated the process with some “real” plaster. This time it was just right. I filled in the hole and some of the missing slab and any cracks that weren’t completely smooth.
I had to carve off some of the extra plaster from the top and bottom of the base. I also had to re-carve some of the “2012 Winner” slab and smooth some of the cracks. My dremel tool worked well for smoothing out extra epoxy that squeezed out of the cracks.
Once I had everything glued back together and smoothed out it was time to paint. The spray paint was problem free for the most part. The only thing that took a little extra work was making sure I got the whole thing covered. There were a lot of little corners and creveses! I set down some newspaper in the garage and gave each one a couple coats.
Finally, they were finished!
Here’s are the finished awards, including 5 of the 10 mugs that I made. I thought the mugs turned out really well.