Making of Pile
I didn’t take many pictures while making this one, but here’s what I got.
The piece sawn out from the blank. The steel stock is the same 2 mm steel plate, that I used for the Whiskers.
I wanted the silhouette of the cats’ ears, feet and tails to be the main focus along with the silver eyes, of course, but a completely flat base seemed to be lacking something. So I decided to hammer a slight dome in the blank before sawing out the shape to give it a bit more depth.
After sawing, the dome looked like it could have been a little deeper. By cutting out the ”not sculpture” areas I also cut away some of the overall effect of the dome. The shape is there, but could have been a bit more pronounced. I guess you’re not supposed to point out your flaws, though? Oops. Wait, that makes for two flaws in a row!
Instead of keeping with strict traditionalism, I applied some improvised ghetto jewellery techniques. I glued some rough sandpaper on the flat ends of 10 mm diameter wooden dowels to make sanding bits. I figured that they would wear out fast on steel, so I made a bunch and went for lunch.
I attached the workpiece to the pitch bowl and a sanding bit in a cordless drill and tried if I could make some swirls of fur-like lines on the base. I didn’t try to define any recognisable cat shapes but rather just an abstract texture. It’s a pile of kittens after all, you can’t tell where one cat ends and another one begins.
A surprisingly difficult task, actually, to make a texture that is both even, but not too repetitive, flowy, but still chaotic.
You can see the center punch marks at the locations of the eyes. At the time, I didn’t think that I would show these work in progress pictures anywhere so I didn’t take any of the inlaying of the eyes. I’ll write another post on that sometime. The technique is called ten zōgan (点象嵌 dot inlay). Basically you punch a round hole in the base metal, but not all the way through. Stick a piece of wire in the hole – 1 mm silver wire in this case – cut it so it protrudes slightly. Then tap the wire in with a suitable sized punch that has a hollow round face, forming the round top of the inlay.
For lack of pictures, I’ll skip to the end… Here is the Pile in its final state.