by YONA C. RIEL

Friday, May 28, 2010

Arcosant #2 - Day seven

     Just as I was stepping out of the cafe at Arcosanti yesterday a nice 40ish woman named Cabiria complimented me on my boots.  She was dressed in ragged jeans and tied a piece of cloth around her waist like a skirt.  On top she had on a well worn tank top.   I had just written to you on the blog that I had not made any connections here so when she commented about my boots I took the opportunity to talk with her for a bit.  Turns out that Cabiria was a San Fransisco transplant and had lived at Arcosanti for 4 years.  Also she worked in the bronze casting foundry (which explained her well worn look).  She, having seniority, had a great apartment that she pays $120 a month for.  I told her I was disappointed with my tour from yesterday so she offered to give me a one on one tour at the foundry.  Here's a picture...
     After she showed me how they compress the sand into the molds she offered to let me make designs on the bells.  Her favorite part of the job was that she could make any design she wanted.  I drew a few lines after watching her for a bit and realized that it took some experience to get it right.
    The most experienced people worked on the bigger bells, the least experienced people on the smaller bells.  This guy (didn't catch his name) had arrived here last June and was still considered relatively new.  That beautiful square box with the amazing hardware is what the molten bronze will be poured into.
     Cabiria had said at one point she was cynical after the four years and while we were working I asked her why.  "After being at Burning Man for many years", she said, 'I know if you really want to get things done and you have the people to do it, you can make it happen.  Paolo is such a prolific artist, we have an entire trailer full of his drawings, bronze sculptures and architectural models, that I don't think he cares whether it gets done or not".
    I said, "Yeah at 91 yrs old one probably accepts their limitations more so than us younger ones".
    Cabiria said she liked living in community and that Arcosanti is a good place to go when you need a change in your life, although she also mentioned there were some people there with a 'small-town attitude' and it occasionally felt like she was in junior high school.
    Meanwhile they were preparing for 'the pour'.  Here's a picture of the two that suited up to handle the crucible as is came out of the kiln.
    Bronze casting has some similarities with glass blowing in that they melt the bronze in a crucible.  Once it gets to the right temperature two people pick it up and sit it on the deck.
     Once everyone is ready for the pour the two who are suited up pick up the crucible and walk it over to the molds.  Here they are pouring into the first mold which has four bells in it....

    Below is a close up of the pour ... the molten bronze looks a like the golden paint color called Quinacridone Gold...
      Cabiria and the other guy are patting the sand down because the bronze is bubbling up which indicates repairs will have to made on the bells later.
     Cabiria said it took her a while to figure out how to position herself so that she could lift the molten crucible.  As you can see it is quite heavy and it takes some skill to pour it just right.  Once the bronze is poured they wait until the molds cool and then remove the bells....
     Pictured below is a few of the the poured bronze bells cooling in the sand molds...
  
        And here's a picture of the bells when they come out of the molds...
         After the burrs have been polished off the bells they patina them with muratic acid...
    I got to take one kind of artzy shot in a storage area for the bells.  The red of the structure made a great contrast for the greenish-blue patina of the bells...
    Fortunate for me Cabiria invited me back to stay at her place and do a night time fire with a few beers and stories thrown in.   I am looking forward to that and it gives me a great excuse to go visit again.

    I left Arcosanti about 11 am and headed towards Joshua Tree (the town not the park).  On the way I did happen to find 'The Rice Shoe Tree Monument' out in the middle of nowhere on Highway 62.
     For some unknown reason when college kids came back from Lake Havasu during spring break they started hanging shoes on what was once an old Tamaskus Tree.  In 2003 someone arsoned the tree so the shoes now hang along a wire fence.  Also, all along the railway tracks people stop to make monuments for themselves using the multicolored basalt rocks.  The ones that stand out the most used the black rocks then the white as a contrast.  For several miles there was 'rock graffiti' like what you see below along side the railroad tracks...
   As a parting shot, here's my favorite image of the day... I love both the subject matter and the composition of the shot... It's the infamous Sunset Motel weathered to an almost unrecognizable mass of metal.  The giant cactus and the endless span of blue sky (a rare sight in Oregon these days) frames the scene.
   I made it to Joshua Tree that night about 8pm, dirt tired from the long days drive.  As always your comments are welcome either here on the blog or on Facebook.  Today I am headed into Joshua Tree National Forest and tomorrow I will post whatever it is that I find there.  As always thanks for reading... Yona C. Riel

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