Monday, February 28, 2011

The Die is Cast

Well, a die is cast anyway. Two of them to be more precise.

The experimentation has been progressing well. I think I have plaster mixing and pouring down to a near science at the very least. Here is a picture of the die that I have made for the Portland Head Light tile:
It still needs to be cleaned up and sanded around the edges to finish it off, but I seem to have the technique (or at least my technique) down. I made two of these dies and hope to have this tile design in production before another month is out. I am also working on a die to stamp my maker's mark into the back.

Portland Head and Whaleback lights are the first two lighthouses to get this treatment,but I am planning on a road trip this summer to take pictures a several more. Fort Point Light will get attention next. It has a wonderful keeper's house and is unusual for its square light tower.

I am casting these dies using leather hard clay instead of bisque. Wile bisque would last longer (I can get two casts easily with leather hard - probably more if I make the slab thicker), I can turn on a dime with unfired clay. I roll the slab and incise it the first day, leave it between two sheets of drywall overnight, and then clean up the image the second day and do the casting. The raw clay peels away from the plaster easily after about an hour and is generally ready for another impression as soon as I clean it off.

I will be working on a mold to make larger trivet sized versions of the Portland Head and Whaleback lights. These will be int he neighborhood of 6.5 to 7 inches square and will sit on cork feet.

I'm doing all I can to stay active these days. This has been the most relentless winter I can remember. I have to go back to 1968 to find one in memory that came close. I recall the snowbanks so high that we would walk on top of them because you could not see the street from the sidewalk. It was the first year that I had to attend school on a Saturday because so many days had been called off.

You can't help but be affected by this. My back is still screeching at me because of the shoveling I did this weekend. I'm 52 now, so I know I have to be careful, but I'm a one-man show here on top of Lowell Hill, so there you are.

Keeping busy at some pursuit other than the mundane is essential. Small breakthroughs like successful die casting can do a lot to raise the spirits.

More soon!


  1. Hi Geoff! This is Sheila's granddaughter Beth. Your pottery is looking fantstic! I am so glad that you are keeping the spirit of Rowantrees alive!