Cheshire Cat: Part 2

January 31, 2021

In the last post, I began layering cross sections of foam panel to form the general shape of the lower half of the tree that the cat will be perched on. As the trunk narrows from the roots, I used a piece of clear plastic sheet to outline the shape of the next piece to be cut.

Using a few push pins to hold the plastic in place, I traced the next layer with a sharpie. Then I placed the traced shape on the piece of board to be cut and followed the line with a burnishing tool to leave an indentation on the foam. The new shape was then cut out with a jigsaw. As new pieces are cut they are glued together and weighted to make sure the seams stay as tight as possible.

I’m using Gorilla Glue which has a tendancy to expand as it cures. Three or four layers were glued at a time, always stepping back and looking at how the the layers are creating the overall shape, referring back to the small plastilene model to stay on track. Keep in mind that the model is just a refence point and I’m not attempting to replicate it exactly.

I layered the foam to the height at which I want to divide the sculpture. After using all of the pink foam that I could, a new piece of green foam was purchased to complete the lower half. As I mentioned in the previous post, this will be constructed in two sections for safe transport. This lower section is approximately 39 inches tall.

After all of the sections were completely glued and secure, the carving stage began. I started with a small hotwire tool to remove larger sections of foam.

If your not familiar with one of these, it uses electric current to heat a length of wire that will melt through the foam, cutting it very smoothly. It’s ideal for removing a lot of material quickly and easily.

I used the hotwire to cut down the edges of each layer and begin to create contours but because the tool is a bit narrow, I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked so I improvised a tool to help with the next step.

An array of tools including a jigsaw, hotwire, wire brush and an improvised sander on an electric drill

The tool is basically some kind of sanding cylinder that appeared to be designed for mounting on an arbor or possibly a table top drum sander. I took out the center mounting shaft and replaced it with a long bolt, washers and a spacer to it could be chucked into an electric drill. I could now use this to remove more material that couldn’t be done with the hotwire and eliminate the rough edges between the layers.

When I had removed as much as I could with the sanding tool, the final shape was then carved using a wire brush. Although the wire brush leaves a very rough texture to the foam, this will all be covered with a layer of epoxy material (more on that later).

The next step is to design and construct the point of assembly between to two sections.

To be continued…

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