Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

Casting Call
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Friday: Chinese take-out with games Entdecker and Puerto Rico and good company in the shape of Jenn and Kenny.

Saturday morning: running around trying to find bigger plastic zoo animals and materials to cast them in lead. Success!

1) Went to a thrift store and got a small pan for melting lead, to be held with large insulated pliers over torch (it's an ex-watering pan from a bird or hamster cage: 54 cents).

2) Bill's Variety Store down in Montrose happened to have bags of substantially bigger zoo animals (better for the scale of the camel) compared to the bags of little ones from the drug store: $2.70. Got an EXCELLENT sweet roll at a bakery across the street - might be the best sweet roll I've ever had: $1.25.

3) Stained Glass Supplies in Eagle Rock gave me a weird look when I asked for scrap lead came for casting, but gave me a box with like a ton of it: $1.50.

Not too bad on the cost so far!

4) Do It center in La Crescenta for a bottle of propane (for the torch to melt the lead) and a stand for it. They don't sell stands, but got the propane. And a Christmas tree stand on sale 70% off for next year.

Got home, softened up some kids' modelling clay, pressed a bear halfway into it. Melted some lead, poured lead into mould. MESS!!! The "clay" melted and left me with a blob of molten lead/clay on my work table. Yuck.

What next? Shelley suggests plaster of paris. Sounds good. I rush down to Michael's to look for it, seems they're out. Ask, and they get some from stock. While waiting, I find some real clay that dries hard with baking, for making moulds, but it's kind of expensive. So I get the plaster (~$3.50) and two kinds of clay just in case about $10 each (but I'll take them back if not used).

Rush back home just in time to log on for my scheduled tournament SFBOL match with a guy from Australia. Find out he's posted a note on a bulletin board system saying he can't play, but no reason give. Sigh. Lots of rushing and psyched to play. Ah well, now there's time to try the plaster casting.

Mix plaster and press all eight animals into it. Let it set for half an hour. Carefully peel animals out of hardened plaster, which works pretty well (some places they got a bit too deep and the plaster has enveloped legs or tails too much and chips a bit coming out).

Melt lead. Pour it into a mould: pop! splash! gurgle! looks like hot mud -- hoping it's getting down into the bottom of the mould and not melting it. Spend about an hour melting eight batches of lead bits and pouring liquid metal into animal shapes.

It takes almost no time for molten lead to harden, so after last one is poured and torch turned off, I take the mould with all eight animals in it and drop it onto the cement. Thud, and crack. Get hammer, smash moulds open and have nicely shaped animals!!! Woot!

All of them have significant flashing, though, where I poured into too much lead, so I spend the next hour or so with the soldering iron "carving" off the excess metal, but that's no big deal. They are all rather thick, however, but that shouldn't detract too much from the final project, except they're heavy and therefore cause worry about whether the glass wheels on the cracker box will support them. We'll find out.

[Forgot to take photos of the lead while in the moulds, and of the resulting cleaned casts.]

Saturday Evening: Play a just-for-fun game of SFBOL since the morning's game didn't happen. It went late, until 2 am or so.

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