I made the Fancy Fish casting at the request of the Lincoln Art Center in Lincoln, KS.
I searched for a photo on the internet to serve as a model. This image caught my eye.
It is a Red Veiltail Goldfish photo from this site.
I made a small, quick modeling clay version thinking
that the tail would be a good anchor point in the
finished casting. No so good looking at this point.
The body was the next step. Originally it was to be a hollow casting so a core would
be necessary. Later I decided to make it solid to simplify the project. This body I made
with regular mineral clay. This turned out to be a bit too fragile and was later covered
with polymeric clay which is oven baked to harden.
The fins were also made with polymeric clay. The plastic roller was used to roll out flat
pieces that were then cut to shape and then baked. Cotton string was then glued on
to create the fin rays. The whole thing was then painted to smooth the surfaces.
The tail fins were also made of polymeric clay. Again, cotton string was glued on to
create the rays in the tail. The tail on the body will actually fit into a hole in the body which
will be created using a sand core. More about this later in the process.
Here is the body and all of the fins. Notice that I added a lot of detail to the
body and painted everything. These will be the patterns for making the sand molds.
Epoxy was used to glue the dorsal and anal fins to the body. This will be a single casting.
The two tails were too fragile at the "neck" so I decided to make one casting of
each in aluminum to make more durable patterns for later brass castings.
Here are the two halves of the tail, fresh from the sand, showing the gates and sprues.
The neck end was shaped and the two halves attached temporarily with machine screws.
Here are the polymeric clay and aluminum versions of the tail. Looks like a butterfly?
The tail temporarily test fit to the body. I'll use a sand core to create the space for the
tail in the body. A bit more about this later.
I cut a fish body shaped hole in a piece of plywood to support the fish in the center
of the flask. Fiberglass cloth was glued to the back to provide additional support.
The fish body pattern in place. Notice the piece of wood dowel sticking out of the back.
This will create a "core print"...the place where the sand core will fit to create the hole
for the tail in the final casting.
The sand has been rammed into place and the entire flask rolled over. The temporary
support lifted off to reveal the fish pattern in the sand.
The gates have been cut and the core put in place.
A closer look at the sand core in position. You can see now how the core print provides support.
The completed mold, weights in place to prevent the weight of the molten metal from
pushing the two halves of the mold apart.
Unfortunately, there was a problem everytime I did this. See the distortion behind the gills
on all of these attempts?
Here is a closer look. This got frustrating after 4 or 5 trys!
I finally determined that there was not enough "head pressure" which is to say that the
sprue where the metal is poured into the mold was not tall enough as shown here. Only a
couple of inches higher than the casting.
To solve this problem, a heavy aluminum casting was rammed with molding sand. The sprue hole was
then cut. Flour and water paste applied and then this was glued to the top of the completed mold.
Molding sand was pressed firmly against the base to help keep melted metal from pouring
through this junction.
Weights in place and we're ready for another pour.
This technique fixed the issue. Notice that the new sprue is 3x taller than before.
This provided enough head pressure to force the fish mold full of metal.
A piece of wood dowel was epoxied to the bottom of one of the tail fins. This will serve as
the attachment point for the final casting to the base mount. This photo shows the pattern
in place and gates cut to feed metal to the mold.
Ventral fin mold (drag side only shown)
Lateral fins mold (cope side only shown).
Here is the body casting. I am test fitting the aluminum tail pattern.
At this point I have welded the brass tail to the body. I drilled a hole in the limestone rock for the tail to
mount. The other fin castings are on the rock. These were later drilled, tapped and attached to the body
with brass all-thread.
Here is the fish with all of the fins attached. Later the fins were welded to the body to make them more
permanent. The fish was then sandblasted to clean the surface. It was then oxidized and polished with
steel wool. Finally, several coats of premium lacquer applied for protection.
The final product. Looks nice, eh?
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