Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Making of "Steampowered 57 Chevy brooch II"

On July 2, 2015 I completed my second interpretation of the classic 1957 Chevy.  It is a brooch, approximately 3 inches long, and comes with a frame so that it may be displayed when not being worn.  It is made of pewter, brass and copper with a nickel silver pin back.

Like my first 1957 Chevy brooch, it is "steampowered" and interactive.  This time it includes three moving parts.  The door opens/closes, the steering wheel turns AND it has a coal bin - the bin lid opens/closes.

I am often asked how my pieces are made.  The process does differ somewhat from one piece to another.  Having said that, the making of this piece is more or less typical of how I make my wearable sculpture brooches.  I took photos as I made it chronicling the process.  Those photos follow with explanations of the process.

But first, pictures of the completed piece itself and in its frame.

The creation process:

First - the sketch.  In the first photo, the paper with the images I was working with sits on my bench. The image that I used has been cut out.  The next photo shows the body of the brooch cut out of solid pewter plate stock WITH the sketch still glued to the pewter.  The pewter stock chosen is 9 mm thick.

I have removed the paper and "made notes" on the pewter.

Shaping the body has begun - using saws and grinding tools:

Here is the the body (in early stages) shown with the piece of pewter plate that is was sawed out of:

I sawed out the door and the passenger compartment.

I then added some brass parts.  The first of these were two pieces of brass angle stock.  These are not only decorative, but also functional.   I added them to underside and outside edges of the passenger compartment adding strength to this thin (and hence, weak) part of the body.  "Rivet" details were hammered onto one side.  On the underside I drilled a number of holes and inserted brass pegs - when completed, these will make nice details.

Brass details were also added to the fin area - a piece of sheet with rivet details was fitted as well as a brass wire (adding some height). 

This BOTTOM view photo also shows that I have been hollowing out the body in the wheel well area.  Extensive hollowing out of the piece is necessary so that it will be light enough to be worn without "pulling" fabrics.  Also visible in this photo is some pewter weld that I added to replace a small area of pewter that was removed in error.

I set aside the body for a while and started work on the boiler.  I had made a boiler out of pewter and brass for the first 1957 Chevy brooch.  Before using that boiler, I had a mold made and had several castings made in brass.  The boiler for this piece began with one of those castings.

I made a number of pieces and parts to be attached to the basic boiler.  The exhaust transfer pipe was made from brass rod.  The steam transfer pipe was made from brass rod and a piece of brass tubing with turned (as on a lathe, but I use a hand held machine) details.   The air intake was fashioned from two pieces of tubing and a brass rod.

After assembling the boiler parts (no pic) I began making wheels.

I sawed circles out of pewter stock, drilled a hole in the middle and soldered a brass rod in place.  This enabled me to attach the pewter wheel-to-be to my flexible shaft machine for turning (as on a lathe).  The first part of the turning process was to "true up" the circle - making it perfectly round.

and bring it to the desired diameter.  

Next the wheel starts to take shape and tread lines are cut in.  Earlier, I had made a hub cap and had it cast in brass.

The next step is to make a proper seat for the hubcap in the new wheel.

This process was repeated for the second wheel.

Time to work on other parts.  I made the hinge for the door and attached 1/2 to the door - also began construction of the door handle.

Also, the windshield; which began with brass square tubing, cut and bent to shape and cuts soldered close.

Additional parts were made and soldered into place (this one is ready for soldering).

After all of the parts of the windshield were soldered together, the windshield was soldered to the car.
Note that the wheels and hubcaps are already soldered in place.  Also, I build and attached front and rear bumpers.

Next up was the steering assembly and hollowing out the coal bin.  Also, the final boiler location was determined and a hole made for the exhaust transfer pipe (fixing the boiler location).

Before the steering unit could be soldered into place, the instrument panel gauges needed to be soldered.  Then the steering was soldered in two places - the column was soldered into its notch and the post was soldered to the floor.

There was also additional hollowing out (to reduce weight) and the coal bin cover hinge was begun.

I usually make hinges by soldering tubing onto plate and then sawing apart (using the thinnest saw blades generally available).

After the parts for the hinge were made, one section was soldered to the boiler, the other is shown next to the coal bin lid - I will be soldering them to each other next.  Also, there will be a handle for the coal bin which will be constructed and also soldered to the coal pin lid.

This wearable sculpture is nearing completion.  But first, two more parts.  I made a headlight in the style of nineteenth century calcium stage lights out of three pieces of copper & brass; and I made a hood ornament from a brass wire.

In addition, many of the parts received a "cleaning" (smoothing out of rough spots, etc).

Here are the parts ready for final assembly.

Here is the "completed" piece (after final assembly and "cleaning" but before "finishing").

The last process is "finishing".  The piece is washed, "blackened", and shined (the high points are brushed go give them a shine).

The final result, several views:

I may be contacted about this piece at .