Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hippo Brief - Feedback

Jane came into college today to check on the progress of the hippos and thankfully she loved them. She was really excited about the whole project, which was refreshing because obviously having stared at them all day everyday the hippos were starting to lose their appeal but this just brought it all back into perspective. Lovely.

I gave Jane a demonstration of how the molds work - throughout this whole brief I've had to bare in mind that the process needs to be as simple as possible so that I can teach Jane then she can easily teach the technique to as many others as possible along her production line. The plaster is basic fine casting plaster which is available from your average hardware stores like B&Q etc, all you need to mix it is a bucket and your hands, and I'm providing her with the molds so I'd say I've got this simplicity angle covered. Thank god.

I showed her how to prep the molds for casting - binding the jackets with a belt, wedging the neck joint together and leveling the whole thing out. I also had one in the mold that had already set when she came in so that I could show her how to take them out.

So with Jane 100% happy with the first mold it's full steam ahead for the rest of them! Because the vinamold is such a precious resource in the 3D studio I reckon 10 molds worth would be about as much as I can muster - and even then they're having to order in a fresh batch to meet my demand!

Talking to Don we realised that we're going to have to come up with some sort of signing out system for the materials. The vinamold is recyclable and is constantly used in the workshop, so removing 10 molds worth will be detrimental and they simple can't take the risk of it not returning. So I think what we're doing is getting Jane to pay a deposit for the vinamold which will be returned when the materials come back into college - sounds pretty fair.

This whole mass participation project is running alongside a larger project involving 5 commissioned artists creating hippo-related pieces to be displayed in Armley town centre. Jane suggested that I be one of them! A real job! With real money! And for a real purpose! The only problem I have at the moment though, is that the festival spans 3 weeks in July, and if I get accepted on Camp America then I obviously won't be here and so won't be able to do it.. This is all getting very complicated.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Black Dog Collective Brief

Now that my hippo brief is underway I need to start looking for other work to fill in the time before the module deadline and also pad out my portfolio. Today I was told about a call for submissions by Black Dogs collective (which Mick from Vernon St print room is part of). Entrants are required to produce an A4 'How To' cards that depicts an activity/event to be re-enacted in the Tate as part of 'No Soul For Sale' - an exhibition celebrating not-for-profit and independent art.

Full details can be found here.

A relatively simple brief but typically the deadline for submissions is Friday April 30th, a whole two days from now. Brilliant. I need to spend best part of my days in the 3D work shop now and I'm working tonight and tomorrow evening so if I'm honest it's looking pretty bleak as to me actually being able to produce anything on time. I'm pretty gutted, the brief sounded perfect and ties in nicely with my work for D&AD.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Camp America Placement

I received an email from Camp America Enquiries asking whether or not I was still interested in the program as I hadn't logged into my account for 4 months, and saying that if I wanted my application withdrawn then just not to reply to the email. So I didn't. I had given up hope.

Then, in a display of painful irony, the very next day I received an email from Camp Cedar Lodge in Michigan saying that they want to talk to me about a placement as head of Arts and Crafts at their summer camp! Safe to say I wrote a groveling 'please don't delete me' email to Camp America in a flash. The only issue Cedar Lodge had was with my availability dates, which I have had to bring forward to 12th June as their summer program begins on the 13th.

Nothing is definite as of yet; there are a number of applicants that have been shortlisted. This is the email that they've sent me, it seems incredibly intense - I need to be able to manage and run the entire arts and crafts department, providing continuously fun and engaging projects for up to 60 children that appeal to kids aged 8-16:

Greetings from Cedar Lodge.

You are one of several applications that I have just reserved from Camp America as a possible applicant to fill a job I have open for this summer. The position I am looking to fill is for a camp counselor that would stay in the cabin with kids, and a specialist that has at least one major area of expertise, and several other areas that they are very strong in as well. Our camp is quite small, but offers a variety of intense different programs. Because of that, all our cabin counselors are also program heads. I am interested in your application primarily because of your Arts and Crafts background. Here are some links to our web site that may tell you more about us:

Now that you know something about us, I have some questions for you.

Arts and Crafts: This area is a large program in our camp. I just lost my return counselor for this area and it's a bit of a scramble for me. That being said, I am looking hard for the right "fit". Here is a link to a page on our web site that talks about this program:

This is one page, I could probably have dedicated several into this program. Like I said, it's a big program and very popular. The craft "barn" will be open all 6 hours of the day, though perhaps not always with the same person. I am looking for someone that is qualified enough to head the program. They must feel confident in working in various types of art and crafts, for different ages (8-16) and different abilities. They must be able to handle group projects and also smaller groups. They must be able to come up with daily ideas of different craft projects, some that may be simple and only take a small bit of time, and some for more advance students that might go on for hours, days or even weeks. They must be able to organize the craft barn, inventory and supply buying lists of what they need. I am looking for someone that lives and breathes A and C and doesn't mind being in the barn for 4-5 hours a day, 6 days a week, 8 weeks for the summer. There is a partial list on the link that I have supplied. That would be a good place to start. How many of those things (and others) do you feel confident leading? When I say leading, I mean coming up with, organizing and implementing without outside help or prodding. Tell me your feelings on the above and then we can go from there.

One more thing. I have attached a pdf that has to do with the A and C program we did at Winter Camp this last year. I think it will give you a good idea of what we expect for our program. I will be interested on whether you feel that this is a program that you can put together and run.

Additionally, you would be expected to handle at least one evening program a week with the entire camp, so past work with large groups is a plus. All general staff have this responsibility:

As you see, there is a bunch of information, but those links should give you a great start! It is very important to me that you feel comfortable about the job that I am offering you. With our small size (60 campers),we operate more like an extended family. That is why it is so important to me to try to make sure that everyone is happy with their placement here, and that we are all here for the same purpose, namely working with children and dedicated to the idea of them having a great time. After you have reviewed the information, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me and I will get back to you as soon as I can. If you would like to talk to me I will be happy to phone you if you could tell me when it would be convenient, but truthfully, if we could do this by e-mail I would prefer it.

I would be interested in whether you feel you are right for a program and whether we would be the kind of place you would like to work. Lastly, I hate to do this to you, but I need you to contact me ASAP. I only have your application on hold for a short time and I will have to make a decision whether I have heard from you or not. I would certainly like to have some contact from you (e-mail is fine with me) before I have to make that decision.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day,

Amy Edwards
Cedar Lodge

At present the prospect of heading an 8 week program is freaking me out, to say the least. I have some skills I can use already, such as paper making, book binding, casting, and even silly things like tye dying; it's simply a matter of thinking of innovative ways to utilise basic skills. If I got accepted for the placement I'd definitely be able to over-prepare myself before June 12th - I go to an Art College for god's sake! So right now I'm being optimistic and trying to persuade Cedar Lodge that I'm an incredible human being that loves kids and 'lives and breathes arts and crafts', and I will cross the actually-having-to-teach-people-things-bridge when I come to it.

There is also the minor issue of my possible alternative summer plan, and still not knowing if I've been accepted onto that program. I should find out in the next week or so, but if I do get on and have to choose between the two then I'm definitely screwed. How can I possibly know which of these experiences will benefit me more in the long run??

Hippo Brief - Casting

To make sure the plaster jacket held the vinamold as tight as possible, I have to use a belt to hold the two halves together. It works on a ratchet and took me at least half an hour to figure out how to work it, and my fingers are having seriously rational fears of decapitation whenever it's around - but needs must and all that.
My first cast came out with a wall of plaster in the join between the legs and head where some of the mixture had obviously gotten between the opening in the mould. Since the vinamold has fully cooled down it is ever so slightly smaller than the jacket and so when the plaster mix is poured in it forces the join to separate.
So being ever so resourceful I adapted two sculpting knives into wedges and jammed that mother, aint no plaster gettin the better of me! Works a treat.

The first cast I did was a bit of a fail all round really, I left the plaster mix a little too long before pouring into the mold and so it wasn't really liquid enough to hug the entire shape, it left ripples at the sides as though pouring toothpaste or something of a similar consistency. This in turn left huge unfilled gaps in the hippo itself.

Now that I've perfected my casting techniques and I know that the mold definitely works I can begin to assemble a small battalion of cuteness that can fight enemies in the face with a mixture of confusion and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Hippo Brief - Making Moulds

To make the mould:
  1. Cut scrap vinamold into chunks and place in the pot to melt.
  2. Take the object you are casting, and place it on a wooden board.
  3. Roll out some clay into large, long sheets 2-3cm thick and build a wall around your object with 2cm or so either side. Reinforce the base of the walls with extra clay and smooth over any cracks or holes.
  4. When the vinamold has fully melted pour the liquid into the casing you've built, being careful to pour slowly and not directly onto the object inside.
  5. When the vinamold has set remove the clay.
  6. Using rolled out strips of clay build a small wall lengthways across the top and sides of the mould.
  7. Mix a thick plaster solution and layer onto one half of the mold, pressing right up to the clay wall.
  8. Apply a layer of hessian to bind it and add more clay.
  9. Smooth off the top of the plaster to create a flat surface.
  10. Remove clay wall, make a small bowl shape from a piece of clay, add a little water and use a paintbrush to mix a thick clay-paint.
  11. Liberally paint the edges of the plaster jacket - this will act as a release agent when constructing the second half.
  12. Repeat steps 7-9 on the remaining half of the mold.
  13. When dry, turn upside down and separate both halves of the jacket, then remove the original object from the vinamold.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Hippo Brief - Feedback

I sent Jane some photos of the hippo model and he response couldn't have been more perfect!

Re: FW: Hippo Brief Update‏
From:jane earnshaw (
Sent:14 April 2010 13:31:40
To:chris gauntley (
i love it/him/her!

It is exactly what i hoped it would be!
Is his snout on the floor? im just thinking about the mould, i guess
he will be cast upside down? and then turned out? The more molds i can
have the more hippos i'll be able to make, its going to be a hippo
making sweatshop in this office, i cant wait.

I am very excited, the kids are going to love it
Well done you!


On 14/04/2010, chris gauntley wrote:
> Rear view of hippo!
> From:
> To:
> Subject: Hippo Brief Update
> Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2010 12:45:01 +0000
> Hi Jane,
> I've been working on the design for the hippos and I've started making a
> model out of clay.
> I've kept the shape simple with no features that can be easily snapped off
> or broken, if you prefer I can try and make it so that there is no gap
> between the head and the body but as it stands the model seems sturdy enough
> - it's up to you!
> I've attached photos with the model alongside a 30cm ruler to give you an
> idea of scale and some additional photos that show the shape better.
> Obviously it's a bit rough around the edges at the minute and when I cast
> the moulds I'll be smoothing off all of the surfaces and getting the curves
> as even as possible. I just need to get your opinion on it before I start
> making some more.
> I'll have to send the last photo in a separate email as the files are too
> large apparently.Let me know what you think!
> Chris

Project hippo is GO!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Competitive Cupcakes

Paul and Claire are running a stall at the Competitive Cupcakes event at Hifi on Saturday 24th, since I've already got plenty of post card sets embossed this is a perfect opportunity to get them on sale again and hopefullllyy earn some extra money!

Hippo Brief

I've been working on my hippo design for the West Leeds festival. I've made one model from clay so far but I need to get feedback from Jane first to make sure it's the sort of thing she's after before I start making anymore. Ideally I need to make as many as I can out of clay in order for me to make a large number or moulds in the shortest time possible. I kept the design of the hippo simple, leaving out any features that could easily break off or chip - these are designed for kids so we have to assume that if anything falls off it WILL be eaten or used as a weapon. I've decided against facial features, limiting it simply to little capped ears at the moment (however there will be nostril indents for more suggestion of facial features when I don't have to move the models around as much because at the minute I keep having to retouch them alllll the time). I tried to keep as much of the hippo resting on the floor as possible for stability - I enlarged the surface area of the base of the head to make it more sturdy and instead of giving each individual leg definition I simply suggested the limbs by making two cylindrical rows, I'm considering making it sturdier still by completely connecting the small space between the head and the body but ideally I want to avoid that as I feel it will mess with the aesthetic, I'll have to see what Jane says. As for the sizing, hopefully I've got that right. I've kept the shapes simple enough to keep basic painting times minimal - school kids aren't renown for their intricacy so I reckon, provided they haven't been supplied with a teeny-weeny brush, one lesson should be sufficient time to decorate a hippo. When I email Jane some photos tomorrow I'll make sure that they include the model alongside a 30cm ruler to give an indication of scale.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Hippo Research - Superlambanana

Lverpool's answer to the Cow Parade. Whereas the symbol of the cow was chosen because of its generality, the model of the Superlambanana was designed with specific historical links to Liverpool's trading industry. The fact that it has become a representation of Liverpool means it cannot be applied to any other cities in the same way the Cow Parade has been. By making the design more meaningful you narrow down your possible audience.

The Super Lamb Banana was the original work of Japanese-based artist Taro Chiezo. Commissioned for the Art Transpennine Exhibition of 1998, the sculpture was a controversial, but welcome addition to the public art arena in Liverpool. Standing an impressive seventeen feet tall and comprised of concrete and steel, the statue first attracted interest from its original position on the Strand. The unusual artwork was created to warn of the dangers of genetically modified food, whilst being appropriate to the city of Liverpool due to the port's rich history in the trade of lambs and the import of bananas.

As with much modern art, there was initially a degree of scepticism around the Lamb Banana, but residents and tourists alike quickly began to see the unusual artwork as a welcome and humorous feature of the city at a time of much change and lscale regeneration. Always intended as a piece which would change location around the city centre, it was perhaps less well predicted that the sculpture would see quite such a range of colours during its time. From the Breakthrough charity sponsored "pink" period to the quasi-vandalism that turned it temporarily into a Friesian cow banana, the range of Blue Gnu's ceramic replicas have tracked these changes, with the limited editionSuperlambananasbecoming highly collectible items...

Taken from the Superlambanana website.