Ok, so I have been gone a while. Never fear, I have not perished. Really, I swear I’m not currently writing you as an undead. The sunflower is finished. Has actually been finished a while, and is now happily residing in my mother’s front yard. But more on that in a moment.
In my last post I promised to show a picture of the back of the sunflower so you can see how it’s all welded on. Basically I cut a circle with the plasma cutter, and then used the oxy-acetylene torch to punch a hole in the center. I then welded one layer of petals around the outer edge. Next I took the domed circle for the center of the flower and welded the front layer of petals to the edge, being sure that all the welds were on the inside. Then I positioned the two pieces together as evenly as possible and tacked the front layer to the back between the petals of the back layer. It’s not a solid enough weld to really support a lot of weight, but unless my family has to fend off looters using it as a weapon it should hold together pretty well. Lastly I put the round bar through the hole and welded it on. That weld is pretty solid and should withstand plenty of looter beating.
Below I have two pictures of the finished flower. I was originally planning on just putting up the one of it in its new home, but it was morning and the lighting isn’t too great so I have also included the one from my back yard with better lighting. The petals aren’t as shiny as I had hoped, they are already starting to rust a little, but that shouldn’t be a problem unless it gets seriously soaked long-term. So there you have it. I’m working on my steel rose now (which is an assigned project, though a pretty one) I’m mostly done with that already and I’ll post some stuff about it either tonight or tomorrow. After that it’s back to my own projects.
So I’m almost done with the sunflower. I thought I’d finish today, but the leaves didn’t feel like cooperating and were very hard to get welded on. The flower itself wasn’t too hard to get put together, and was in fact super easy to attach to the stem. I didn’t get the petals lined up as neatly as I’d hoped, due the way I decided to weld in order to keep the front of the flower free of welds. But I actually kinda like it, it looks more real and less fabricated. I’ll get a picture from the back on Monday so you can see how it’s held together BTW. Also, the petals are a lot shinier than they look in this pic, the lighting in the storage room just sucks. It should be positively blinding when the sun hits it right. I bent the round bar for the stem using this crazy lever/pivot contraption that I don’t know the name of, and it was surprisingly easy considering I was doing it essentially by hand. Did all the welding on this piece with the MIG Welder (also known as a wire-feed welder), rather than oxy-acetylene. It was way easier because MIG can weld at angles and in tighter spaces a lot more efficiently, and you don’t have to worry about filler rod, the wire feed handles that for you. Anyway, that’s all for this update; I’m swamped this weekend with reviewing submissions for SLCC’s Lit Mag: Folio (I’m on the staff). I should have more updates on the flower next week as well as the next Company of the Damned post.
Ok, so things are going a little more slowly than I planned on my sunflower. Due in large part to the fact that the Plasma Cutter is in high demand right now, since the rest of my class is working on their steel roses. I would cut the flower by hand, but I know I wouldn’t be able to make a good circle, and I want the petals to be pretty much identical, which certainly wouldn’t happen.
So I decided to double it up to 32. I have 22 cut currently. Once you’re set up, using the plasma cutter is pretty quick, at least in my case since I’m only using one pattern. Having to change patterns can be tough since you have to recheck the cutter’s position at each edge of the pattern whenever you change it. With a set pattern you just move the metal into position and don’t worry much. If I can get the plasma cutter early tomorrow I should be able to finish cutting pretty quickly. Then the real work begins. Before I can start welding I have 2 major things I need to do. First I need to grind the petals clean. I decided that I like the rusty-brown look for the center and the leaves, but I want the petals to stand out.
And grinding them down is a lot of work. Because of the size and shape of the petals I’m using a handheld grinder to smooth the edges and shine the rust off. It takes about 5 minute a petal, which really adds up. But I think it’s going to look a lot better with shiny petals. I originally was going to braze them (with brass), but I suck at brazing so I think being ground to a shine should be good enough. Once the petals are polished I then have to bend my round-bar so it looks more like a flower stem and less like a steel rod, and then I can actually start welding.
So I’m finished with the leaves for the sunflower. I didn’t do much different with the rest except that I rounded out the edges of the leaves over the anvil to get a little better shape. Tomorrow I’ll be using the plasma-cutter to cut out the flower pieces. Then some pounding, grinding, and welding and I should be done by next Friday!
So today I finally got started on my own project in Metal Sculpting (as opposed to the mandatory ones for class, and general practice pieces). I’m super excited, I love working metal so much!
Anyway, I’m making my mom a 6′ sunflower to put in her garden (though once I bend the round bar and it gets stuck in the ground it will probably be closer to 4.5′ or so), and decided to start with the leaves. I cut them by hand using an oxy-acetylene torch because I wanted the ragged edges on the leaves. I’ll be using the plasma-cutter for the petals and center so I can get nice smooth edges on them. After cutting out the leaves in that lovely heart shape you see on the right, I heated them in the forge and used my pliers to bend and shape the edges. Once the edges were turned down nicely, I heated the center and pounded it out on an anvil to get that rounded valley in the center. I’m going to flip the other leaf so it’s the inverse of the one that’s finished now, I just wanted them arranged to easily show the before and after.
In all it took me about 35-40 minutes to get this much done, but a lot of that was me trying to figure out where I was going and what to do, so I should get faster from here out. Hopefully I’ll have the sculpture done in a week or two at the most. I will continue to post my progress, and be sure to get a few good pics of the completed piece.