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  #1  
Old 01-04-2008, 07:08 PM
jkrecklow jkrecklow is offline
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Question Is Hydrostone outdated?

I am currently using hydrostone because I've got a small studio with only a few real saleable pieces. I'm still learning the ropes, so it works fine for me (and my limited budget), but should I think about moving to some other material if my studio starts to grow? I like hydrostone for the limited runs I'm doing now, but it's the only thing I know, so it's more or less just my starting point. I don't have any experience with other casting materials and wouldn't mind experimenting a little just to see what's out there. What materials do you recommend for someone at my skill level (newbie but learning fast)? Also, is it okay to sell hydrostone pieces as "art" or should I consider them "fine crafts" (ugh)?

Last edited by jkrecklow : 01-04-2008 at 07:38 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-05-2008, 10:42 AM
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dondougan dondougan is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

jkrecklow,

"What materials do you recommend for someone at my skill level (newbie but learning fast)? Also, is it okay to sell hydrostone pieces as "art" or should I consider them 'fine crafts' (ugh)?"

Let me answer the last part of your question first: The material doesn't define the work as 'art' or 'craft', the maker and their perceptions does. It is what you do with the material that defines it as 'art' or 'Art' -- though I grant you that the viewer's perceptions have a good bit to do with it too. For instance, I sometimes use the polymer clay by the brand name 'Sculpey' in some of my mixed-media works. Though I also use both earthenware and stoneware clay bodies fired into ceramic, as well as plasticine for modelling, [I also carve stone, cast bronze, work glass both cold and hot, cast paper, carve wood, weld steel, directly-work and cast plaster, etc.], sometimes I find Sculpey's unique qualities makes it more appropriate to the form at hand. However, I never refer to it by brand name when I list the materials on the exhibition label, because the name is so associated with craft jewelry and so forth. Instead I simply list it as 'polymer clay' so the viewer won't have that immediate knee jerk reaction to the craft-store name. Nothing is outdated - all is fair in making art (like love or war) - it comes down to simply what works to express your ideas.

As to the part of your question about other materials for casting: Again, it depends on what types of form you are making through the casting process. Not all materials will provide the implicit message the material provides to accompany the image/form you are presenting. Also, each type of material will require certain studio equipment and tools (i.e. - casting natural clay will require a firing kiln, wax will require a foundry, fiberglass will require ventilation and safety gear, etc.) which may or may not be accessible to you because of cost/space/location etc. Ask yourself what materials will best support your form, your ideas, and what you consider your audience to be. Where is the money coming from that will pay for all of the behind-the-scenes tools, equipment, and materials? If you are relying on the artwork to support itself you have to make a product that lots of people are going to want to have, where if your income is not dependent upon the market audience you can be much more independent in terms of subject, content, and material.
For what it is worth -- although I am by nature primarily a carver -- I cast bronze & metals (myself when I have access to a foundry, but if not I pay a local bronze foundry to cast them for me from my waxes), cast paper (again, paper pulp I have made myself when I have access to a beater, but pre-beaten bought pulp when no beater is available), plaster (and dental stone, hydrocal, cement, and other hydraulic casting materials), solid plastic resins (epoxy, polyester), fiberglass, natural clay to be fired (usually press-molded, but sometimes slipcasting), and glass (slumped and frit cast in electric kilns), and of course the usually-but-not-always-intermediate materials of wax and rubber molds. One of the reasons my materials are so wide ranging is that I like the unique nature each material brings to the equation in a mixed-media piece; combining the varied materials and processes of cast bronze, carved stone, and fused glass into one sculpture allows me to express complex subtleties in the relationships of the forms (which is what I really enjoy doing). 'Paper, Rock, Scissors' all grown-up, you might say.

Not a simple question, nor a simple answer. Hope this helps. Next time show me some pictures if you want less general answers. <grin>

Don
www.dondougan.com
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  #3  
Old 01-05-2008, 11:00 AM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

I dont see it as outdated or cheap, though compared to BRONZE or carved marble it's cheap.
Bronze cost has gone thru the roof and there will be less and less who can afford or justify spending the money for bronze.

Hydroca sells for me just fine, I did some $13,000 in sales last year part time with my sculptures, most in hydrocal and some in concrete, I have 4 orders right now from this week that need to be filled for about $400 worth, and that's coming RIGHT after the Xmas holiday which is typically a dead period for every business.
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2008, 02:15 AM
halfbad halfbad is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

This kind of question always brings a smile to my face as I try to imagine Rodin asking if plaster is a viable art material. Nobody seems to question the viability of plaster when done by a Rodin or even Manual Neri or George Segal for that matter. But if you want to bump it up a notch without changing technologies too dramatically, try some Tufstone, which is a Hydrostone derivative or maybe some Drystone. Hydrostone was developed in the 40's and was originally designed as a mold material for ceramics. It has incredible compressive strength, but not much chip resistance. So what USG did was take the Hydrostone and add some modern polymer and a little reinforcing fiber to it and Tufstone was born. A lot better in the chip resistance and flexural strength departments as a result. Drystone is a new technology all together and the name really says it all. Generally when a gypsum cement is cast, there is a little residual water left in the casting that must be dried out before the part can be finished or painted. Drystone on the other hand only requires as much water as is needed for the hydration reaction to occur. As a result the cast parts, if mixed properly with the correct amount of water require no post curing/drying and can be finished and/or painted within three hours of their being cast. Go to USG.com to get the complete story on these materials and find a local distributor for them as well. And fear not, for he who uses the humble materials shall also be deemed an artist. Go forth and create!
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2008, 01:13 PM
jkrecklow jkrecklow is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Thank you for posting your thoughts. I'm doing my best with what I've got and right now "humble" is a perfect description My pours are done on a shake table that I made myself from an old 1.5 hp motor that was once a rock tumbler, my dryer is built from a rack of shelves I converted with lots of insulating foam and foil...so it's definitely a humble studio but I'm happy with it and know how to keep production humming along. I was concerned that I might have devoted too much to hydrostone when that material wasn't viable for saleable pieces.

I like your thought that an artist is defined by what he produces, not by the materials he produces them in. I can sometimes fall into the "blame the tools" mindset, but that's when I tell myself "It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools"...and then I figure out some other way to get it done

That Tufstone sounds interesting too. I'm going to look into that in the next few days. Thanks for the tip!
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2008, 11:12 PM
ozmodiar ozmodiar is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrecklow View Post
I was concerned that I might have devoted too much to hydrostone when that material wasn't viable for saleable pieces.

We do well over a million $$ in annual sales and hydrostone(which ain't cheap) is a primary ingredient. If you want to continue with the same experience you've achieved thus far without venturing into completely new territories....maybe explore some of the polymer modified gypsums out there. FGR-95 with additives. Its alot slower than hydrostone but you can accelerate it.

(oh yeah, and our product caters to a "high-end" market...if you're worried about plaster perceptions in the market place. The marketing of the material(tip: don't call it plaster) and how you treat the material can be just as creative of a process as the original artwork )

Last edited by ozmodiar : 05-24-2008 at 11:36 PM.
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  #7  
Old 05-25-2008, 02:25 AM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

I found over the years hydrostone's chipability has been learned by many and seems to almost be a dirty word with some- those who consider it to be just cheap Plaster of Paris. So I never refer to the stuff by that name, I just call it "Cast stone" or "Interior cast stone" - no lie there because that IS what the stuff is, ground up calcined gypsum rock.

Rarely have anyone ask specifically what "cast stone" is, but the two I remember who emailed to ask that direct question did not wind up buying.

I have a 50# bag of gardencast, it gets mixed 50/50 with sand, was wondering if it has a phase where it can be hollowed out...
Literature on it says it is used to cast solid outdoor freestanding statuary.

According to the directions, I broke it down to a small try-out mix of;

8-1/4# of sand
8-1/4# of gardencast
1 quart of water

I'll soon try that out and see how thick it is at that ratio and if it can be hollowed out.


As far as hydrocal goes, I have a note I found the other night, looks like in 1993 I got a quote for 100# bags of it for $19 and change, now it has just about doubled in price
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  #8  
Old 05-25-2008, 09:55 PM
ozmodiar ozmodiar is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Landseer View Post
I found over the years hydrostone's chipability has been learned by many and seems to almost be a dirty word with some- those who consider it to be just cheap Plaster of Paris. So I never refer to the stuff by that name, I just call it "Cast stone" or "Interior cast stone" - no lie there because that IS what the stuff is, ground up calcined gypsum rock.

Rarely have anyone ask specifically what "cast stone" is, but the two I remember who emailed to ask that direct question did not wind up buying.

I have a 50# bag of gardencast, it gets mixed 50/50 with sand, was wondering if it has a phase where it can be hollowed out...
Literature on it says it is used to cast solid outdoor freestanding statuary.

According to the directions, I broke it down to a small try-out mix of;

8-1/4# of sand
8-1/4# of gardencast
1 quart of water

I'll soon try that out and see how thick it is at that ratio and if it can be hollowed out.


As far as hydrocal goes, I have a note I found the other night, looks like in 1993 I got a quote for 100# bags of it for $19 and change, now it has just about doubled in price
I've worked a bit with "garden cast" (different name but same stuff according to USG). I don't see why it can't be hollowed out. That stuff takes forever to set. It's my understanding it is basically 50% portland(or federal) and 50% gypsum...probably some trace amounts of other things too. I do what you do and go 1:1 marble/Garden or whatever aggregate/sand. You can go zero slump and hand pack the stuff if the object isn't too huge. I think the hardest thing to get use to with it is the portland factor which causes slide on the vertical but VF774(i think) can help along with fibers and alum. sulf. to accelerate. If surface treatment isn't a major issue i would brush it up the vertical surfaces or slush cast in layers to achieve hollow object. Spraying it is very frustrating but possible.

Side note....i've had a statue made of garden cast outside for a couple years and it seems to be holding up. A decade....who knows?

Love your work by the way Landseer. You acquire some great objects. I'm envious. 19 bucks a bag is waaaay... before my time. Those must've been the days.

oz

Last edited by ozmodiar : 05-25-2008 at 10:07 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-27-2008, 12:44 AM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozmodiar View Post
I've worked a bit with "garden cast" (different name but same stuff according to USG). I don't see why it can't be hollowed out. That stuff takes forever to set. It's my understanding it is basically 50% portland(or federal) and 50% gypsum...probably some trace amounts of other things too.
Was about to correct you on the Portland content, Hydrocal has none... but Garden cast DOES, it is;

Plaster of Paris >50%
Portland Cement >40%
Crystalene silica <5%

Quote:
I do what you do and go 1:1 marble/Garden or whatever aggregate/sand. You can go zero slump and hand pack the stuff if the object isn't too huge. I think the hardest thing to get use to with it is the portland factor which causes slide on the vertical but VF774(i think) can help along with fibers and alum. sulf. to accelerate. If surface treatment isn't a major issue i would brush it up the vertical surfaces or slush cast in layers to achieve hollow object. Spraying it is very frustrating but possible.
With what I plan to use it for it would more than likely have to be poured full to the top of the mold and then hollowed out as it starts to set, it would be used on my full bodied gargoyles which while they will be somewhat open have a lot of undercuts, areas where air pockets can collect air, and limited access to the head and neck.
I'm thinking I'll want to leave the head/neck solid anyway and insert a 1/2" pipe or rebar for strength.
As can be seen of the photo below of one before it was finished, the only real access inside would be from the small portion of the rump that is actually sitting on the base, the front legs would only serve as vents and I'd have to reach all the way into the head from the back- my elbow would be in it by then.

That's another reason I don't feel concrete would work well- too stiff and heavy and not especially strong when still green.

So in the end the body and the base will probably be all that can be hollowed out, to a certain degree, but the more excess weight out of it the better. It would be cast upside down from this photo.




The instructions seem to have a set time of a a little longer than what hydrostone is etc, around 23 to 27 minutes- the specs are basically hydrostone- mostly Plaster of Paris, with a smaller amount of Portland cement, but offhand with out downloading the PDF I think hydrostone is around 90% Plaster and 10% Portland- Ive posted it before.

Quote:
Side note....i've had a statue made of garden cast outside for a couple years and it seems to be holding up. A decade....who knows?
Ive done some tests on hydrocal, it starts to degrade in a year outside, and after 2 years you can see marked damage.

Attached a photo of a Plaster of Paris corbel that was on Ebay, the woman was selling it for the garden, I told her if it stayed outdoors it would be gone in a couple of years. this was the broken upper half of a scrolled corbel, she had no idea what it was but it was clearly a fragment and left out in the garden for at least a couple of years.



Quote:
Love your work by the way Landseer. You acquire some great objects. I'm envious. 19 bucks a bag is waaaay... before my time. Those must've been the days.

oz
Well thanks oz!
$19 sounds cheap now, but in checking the inflation calculator it SHOULD be $28 today, so hydrocal has exceeded the inflation rate to about $38

Last edited by Landseer : 05-15-2010 at 07:56 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2008, 10:48 PM
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Anyone that wants to make hydrostone castings tougher and more chip resistant - there is an additive for hydrostone that greatly enhances these properties. It is actually a bone emulsion. It is tan or brownish in color, however and will tint the casting that color. The excellent gargoyle shown above would be perfect for using the additive, since the darkening effect wouldn't matter. I got it at Sculpture House online a few years ago. It worked for pieces I cast.

I'd like to add that it would be better for castings like the gargoyle above, to be fully cured (possibly with bone emulsion additive) and then coated with several layers of an exterior resin product, whether urethane or epoxy. If you don't like a shiny finish, you can dull expoxy coatings with sandpaper, steelwool or possibly a solvent.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:32 PM
ozmodiar ozmodiar is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skip77 View Post
Anyone that wants to make hydrostone castings tougher and more chip resistant - there is an additive for hydrostone that greatly enhances these properties. It is actually a bone emulsion. It is tan or brownish in color, however and will tint the casting that color. The excellent gargoyle shown above would be perfect for using the additive, since the darkening effect wouldn't matter. I got it at Sculpture House online a few years ago. It worked for pieces I cast.

I'd like to add that it would be better for castings like the gargoyle above, to be fully cured (possibly with bone emulsion additive) and then coated with several layers of an exterior resin product, whether urethane or epoxy. If you don't like a shiny finish, you can dull expoxy coatings with sandpaper, steelwool or possibly a solvent.

What exactly is Bone Emulsion? An old school glue? Polymer?

Last edited by ozmodiar : 06-05-2008 at 11:43 PM.
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2008, 10:42 AM
Tlouis Tlouis is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

I believe it is a semi-viscous liquid made from the bones of slaughtered animals such as beef cattle.
Lou
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  #13  
Old 06-06-2008, 08:47 PM
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skip77 skip77 is offline
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Re: Is Hydrostone outdated?

OZ, Tlouis may be right. I'm not sure what it actually is other than ground bone powder in a very watery suspension or slurry. It is tan in color and adds the same tint to hydrostone when added. I does harden and toughen hydrostone. You can probably ask the vendor what is actually in the product - I bought mine from Sculpture House.
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