Tag Archives | piecing

Constructing a tiny guillotine

After trying the new multi-part Vixen mold, I have found I do prefer the first version. Of course, I had to go and cannibalize the original master mold to make the second version! But I am going to ignore the fact that I will eventually need to make another first version master for a while. I do have a working Vixen mold, so I have been pouring castings in preparation for a visit from my good friend Addi Velasquez. Addi will be spending a few weeks at the studio in October, so we’ll need horses for our experiments!

Since it’s a little unorthodox to chop off a horse’s head while it is still in the mold, I thought I would show how it can be done without marring the plaster.

What I need is a guillotine – one that creates a perfect cross section of the neck. Here I’ve taken very fine wire and used it to form the shape my “blade” will need to make a clean cut.

I then can trace the wire profile onto my guillotine material. Finding the right material was the most difficult part. I needed something paper-thin so that my cut didn’t remove material from the neck, making my final horse short-necked. I needed something rigid enough to cut through without collapsing, but soft enough that it didn’t leave a mark on the unexposed side of the mold. I settled on stiff vellum paper.

I cut the profile, and left a small tab long enough for me to hold. Small pieces of vellum are surprisingly rigid, so I wanted to keep the length minimal so the paper did not bend. Here I am double-checking the blade profile to be sure it will cut all the way through the casting.

Here is the guillotine in action. There are actually two face pieces that are exposed when the first side is pulled. I’ve taken them off in this picture (as I always do when I make this cut).

Here is the severed head. (Gasp!) The mold has to be done this way because the body must lift up to come out, but the head needs to move back (towards the neck). Fortunately the strands of mane at the top and the jugular groove on the bottom make it really easy to align the piece when it comes time to reassemble.

The biggest flaw I have found so far is that I am really prone to losing my guillotines. I was pretty good at losing my metal minarettes before I installed a magnetic strip, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I cannot keep track of small bits of translucent paper.

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The first Vixen

This is the first finished Vixen, “Antoinette”. She was named, of course, because I was forced to lop off her head.

Here is me doing just that, with my vellum guillotine.

I doubt I’ll continue using this method, since I suspect the new multi-part molds will work better. (I still haven’t poured with them yet, since I’ve been focused on glazing.) Future Vixens will come pre-decapitated, so I probably won’t be wielding the deadly paper any more.

If you’d like to see more pictures of Antoinette (with her head firmly back on), she has her own pages here and here.

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