Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Done Run Out of Luck

The client pieces I was commissioned to cast are done. Right about one third of the way in to casting last weekend, my lance pyrometer decided to die. I had to gauge the temperature of the bronze by eye. Considering they all cast fairly OK, I have to chalk it up to being lucky.

There are two conceptions of luck, or maybe five.

One is that luck is random contingency, and as such is probably infinite in expanse. Given that, some would argue that it's application is random, and thus there is no correlation between lucky events. Others suggest that there may be a correlation, in which case lucky events stick together, and if you are experiencing luck, best to ride out the streak and score as much as you can. In other words, if things are working out for you, best to buy that lottery ticket.

The other view is that luck is a finite commodity. This could mean that the views of its application are similar to above (either no or some correlation). I view it as, more like a Pareto distribution, in which case the events tend to congregate towards the prosaic, but one cannot ignore the fat tails of luck inhabited by black swans and dragon kings. If, as I suspect, ordinary events are the more common (more things can go wrong than can go right), then luck can be used up. I know this doesn't make much sense, but it's pragmatic principle. If I've lucked out on something, I'm unlikely  to push the envelope and buy that lottery ticket.

So, anyway, I got lucky casting these things, with a minimum amount of casting defects. Two of the pieces used all the 48 pounds of metal in the crucible. One of the big ones, I poured the bronze just a tad too hot (which I could tell once we started pouring into the mold). That too hot piece I took outside into the pouring rain, and then hosed it down. (The idea being that there was a good chance the piece would not cool down fast enough and a shrink porosity defect would occur). The amount of steam was such that a good twenty foot cloud appeared, and we could have attacked an ISIS position with such cover.

As it was, I did indeed have a defect in the piece, a heat tear in some interior detail.

"Well, maybe he (the client) will like that defect" rationalized my student aide.

"Yeah, if he likes his babies with birth defects, sure" I replied.

I have noticed my tennis elbow (and left hand) have been complaining a lot. I've been soaking my left arm in ice at night, and helps, but my suspicion is the lifelong damage is there to stay, and I just have to work through the pain. And work I must do, as these metal pieces will not fix/pretty up themselves.

Here's some pics.
Figures rigged with my critters tagging along
 My rule for rigging which I must constantly remind myself: ABV! (Always Be Venting)
Pieces with ceramic shell on them
 I would have you notice that the two hands have slightly different but similar rigging, and one ended up with a shrink porosity defect. I attribute this to not keeping the runners equidistant with respect to the thickness of the piece.
Rigging is more art than science
 I gambled the amount of metal left in the crucible would fill the mold, and lost...
Oops. Gotta fix that hole.
 My hands ache like you would not believe, so I take break.
Grinding with air die tools
 It's getting harder and harder to grind/fettle/sand/file/chase stuff clean and not feel it for days afterwards.
Hole in hand welded up, ground down

I'm 60 in three years. I don't know if my tendonitis will go away,or if my body will hold together.  I dread not being able to do this anymore. Dread is too weak a word. I can't imagine not doing this.

1 comment:

  1. I've had arthritis in my thumb joints for 10 years at least, longer I'm sure. They generally ache all the time with moments of sharp pain though I do have times when they don't hurt at all. When I'm working, model making or filling models or doing finish work or cutting stencils I don't notice it so much. I think the same can I not be able to do what I do.