A look at the thoughts, feelings and what makes Dan Kautz what he is today.
I have taken the big step and retired from my construction and energy management career. Now begins the time when I get serious about further developing and exploiting my artistic desires. The key word in the previous sentence is time.
Time is a very valuable resource that is already receiving lots of external pressure. I have mentally set some priorities and limits on my time. Now fully into retirement (all 6 weeks of it at this writing) I see time has to be managed as much as ever. It can easily be squandered.
I place time management at a high priority, but I will admit not as critical as when working within a large corporation. I like being my own boss again. I am going to enjoy my retirement and not create high pressure critical path time goals. I just need to manage my time and not let it manage me.
An old adage is still true. Practice makes perfect. My new abundance of time allows me to practice my artistic desires. I am far from perfect and consistent practice is the key of improvement, same as an audition at Julliard. A different kind of art, but the path to acceptance is the same.
My goal is to be an accepted artist. I can claim it all I want but it is really something that has to be earned. Practice will get me there. I am getting serious…
I am referring to lost wax casting in Silver.
It hasn’t been a year yet but it is getting close. That’s when my adult daughter and I decided to take a course on wax carving and lost wax casting. We picked the training because it is something I have dreamed of doing for many years. What a joy to take the class together.
After that exposure I knew this was something I could really enjoy with my present health, keeping my hands and mind busy and being able to work while sitting down, for the most part. I decided and vowed to acquire all the tools to do the job at home.
I love hand tools and the detail work, and we bought what we needed to start the class. But now I also needed a few big items to do it all myself.
The first was the kiln that had to go to at least 1400 degrees. Of course I studied everything available. That’s part of the enjoyment, the education process. The Paragon (brand) kiln I bought will easily go to well over 2000 degrees. That gives me enough heat to try other high temperature crafts. This was the biggest expense. I think I invested well.
Next was the casting machine. Initially I was going to go centrifugal casting. I may still go there. But I definitely need a vacuum pump and chamber to degas the investment. There are some alternatives to vacuum degassing, but vacuum is the de facto standard. Plus it works with the vacuum assist casting process.
Centrifugal casting has been put on hold for now and my first good cast proves vacuum works. Of course I need a lot more good casts under my belt. I see clearly that centrifugal is the best choice for small lightweight and intricate casting. It is on my eventual want list. With centrifugal, the force is with me or at least works for me.
The last big hurtle was the comfortable place to do the many hours of wax carving. Since I brought it inside out of the Texas outdoor climate I am like a pig in a mud puddle, totally immersed in what I am doing and loving every minute of it.
Right now I am still refining my skills at wax carving. I will be exploring deeper in to CNC carving as my fingers start to misbehave. But I will take what I can get from my hands for as long as I can.
All the other investment in tools and material has come in small increments over the last 10 or so months. This first successful casting has a lot of time, effort and cost behind it. But all that will be amortized over a whole lot more production. It really isn’t the cost per item that I think about. It is all about the doing.
It demonstrates why handmade art does not and will not compete with mass production as far as cost per piece. The price of silver is only one factor in a long list of total value. Just knowing the person who has made an item adds tremendously to the intrinsic value. Owning something made by a factory assembly line is not the same fuzzy personal feeling as something produced by an artist, craftsperson or personal friend. For me as I have written elsewhere, I think what I make for family and friends provides an heirloom that includes a bit of spirit of the creator, me.
I have just been doing a little wax work at my new, comfortable (air conditioned) wax work bench. I don’t think I will be calling it just wax “carving” as I am beginning to see what can be done with a little controlled wax melting. I am so pleased to see my knowledge and skills expanding. There is …so much to do and try.
I have promised myself that this blog will not be the “how to” but will concentrate on the art and the creativity. I will show the tools and the beauty I see in the stages of the work. I see the stages in wax carving as being as much art as the finished piece. Even the tools are a form of art in perhaps their shape and how they are used.
The preliminary sketches are a form of art in my eye. That’s why I show them here. The creative process flows from the mind’s eye, to the sketch or drawing and through the hands to the tools and machines that shape the material to the dimensions of the finished piece.
Like dance and music where the process of performing is the art, the process of creating dimensional art is a form of art that perhaps only the artist privately enjoys. I intend through good photography and electronic media (this blog) to occasionally display things I see while I am working, that look interesting in whatever stage it grabs me and speaks to me. The beauty is in the journey of creation.
The step by step “how to” I will leave to Ramblin Dan’s Workshop or other places where I publish that sort of industrial process detail. In here it will be all about the art. …maybe. Only you can decide if it works for you.
My main supplier of art products, Rio Grande posts a tag line under my name in my product reviews that says, “Life is a journey”. Somehow they seem to know me.
If you have been here before and things look a bit different, I have spent a couple of days tweaking the looks of this blog website. I thought the old one was actually quite attractive. But one thing I didn’t like was all the space the Leaf Picture was taking up on the main page. So I decided I should make some changes. I poked that leaf up into the header and made it significantly smaller.
The pages themselves are fairly similar to what they were. There are some color changes and maybe I lost a bit of the “class” of the old pages. I’ll probably do a little more tweaking until I get it exactly right. It is kind of like painting a picture. I never know when to stop and say, “It’s done!”
The menu is stretched out a bit longer with separation between the blocks that wasn’t that way on the original. It’s functional but that is what I may play with a little more. Of course change is good so I should probably just look at it for awhile longer…
Most of my thoughts and effort the previous year (2013) have been focused on working in a much smaller scale than large heavy projects to which I have long been involved. I am getting more awkward in lifting and safely carrying things around in my workshop. I am now most comfortable when setting comfortably on my butt and working with my brain, eyes and arm and hand movement.
My days of hands-on heavy construction and contracting are behind me. That’s OK and not a concern. I am proud of what I have accomplished and am ready for new challenge wherever it leads.
I have always been a techno-nerd so now I am into working in the design and machine control arena. I love the micro machining and CNC control. I also like the 3D CAD/CAM draw-it-and-I-can-make-it ability of dimensional art software. I am not into creating pictures for viewing but rather designing three dimensional objects for machining and occasionally rendering those designs into graphic display.
I share my interest and projects by publishing them here in Dimensional Art.Org with the Org meaning organization. The definition of an organization is a non-commercial association. I have another URL also linking here which is 3-DimensionalArt.com. The com of course is indicating a commercial intent.
When my creations are good enough and abundant I will advertise their availability for purchase.
My resolution is to not keep my “dimensional” art as a personal collection. My plan until I become more skilled and productive is to perhaps give some away as gifts. Eventually I would like to become skilled enough that sales will keep me in supplies, and busy in mind and body making more. My second life as an artist will continue to be as good as my first one.