Saturday, January 4, 2014

The PteroBow Finished.



Started in the last week of September 2013 and finished yesterday.

So just over three months of work.

Made out out of gold, silver, copper, brass, steel.

Using Sandawana emeralds, citrines, amethysts, topaz, peridot.



I never draw da Vinci type sketches before I work.

Just a rough plan that denotes the general direction and then we stumble forward---a little like my life plan.

The stumble part, I mean.



Working on the cross bow.

The cable is just to check the bow strength.

I made this one very strong.

It cannot be cocked by hand, and shoots mighty hard.

With this kind of project, it is important to avoid a technical lock, in as much that making a miniature cross bow that shoots easy is the aim. (pun)

Once that is done, the rest of the design is more important than the actual cross bow mechanism.

I make paper mock ups for the three dimensional work.



I have always like the ‘ gull dihedral ‘ of aircraft.

For instance the Stuka and Corsair fighter aircraft in the second world war were good examples.

Looks mean and purposeful.

The PteroBow thus joins the ranks of the famous—ahem….


Working out the cocking mechanism .

I printed out the diagram of a Ptero bird so that everybody thinks I am super clever.

But I’m just old.


Another paper mock up.

You got to spend time getting this right and I rely on trial and error more than anything really.

I made the legs out of solid stock, because I didn’t think sand casting would work on such long pieces.



The rough draft of the head.

I had no idea of how I was going to shoot the arrows at this stage.

I didn’t like the jaw line . Looked to wimp-ish.



So I cut it open and made some bottom teeth out of silver.

I used quite a lot of silver and a small amount of gold in this piece.



Checking the draw strength.

I had to make several bow strings out of steel cable because they kept on breaking.

Eventually I got the hang of it.


I wanted a rat like tail.

Actually, the original skeleton that was discovered in Germany in 1809 didn’t have a tail, but the reason is because my bow was not built yet.

It  would have been easy for the paleontologists to see that it in fact did have a tail,  if they were able to look at my sculpture.


Basic tail finished. Straight and untwisted still.

I made the rear claws from solid bar.

But the front wing ‘bones’ were first carved out of purple carving wax and then sand cast using Delft casting sand.


Then I drew out the ‘veins’ for each wing and pierced them out of 1mm brass sheet.


I filed the veins half round and polished them .

Sweat work.


Made the trigger work smooth and easy.

Important thing that, the trigger.


Check the little claws on the wings.

Mean looking or what!

I worked on the eyes and the silver casque on the head a lot to get it balanced.

The eyes are made out of a rod of fusing glass.


The display stand is as important as the actual piece when it comes to overall design.

The bottom piece was carved as well and sand cast.


Bottom view showing all the  unfinished rivets .



I finished the surface of the wing off by deeply burring it with a 2mm ball frazer.

I wanted a leathery look.

Then I took a coarse  diamond bur and ‘smoothed’ out the surface.

What this does is leave a sparkly sort of iridescent finish on the copper.

The surface is then stabilized with Incralac.



Getting there.

Finished the silver ‘armor plates’ and made a bucket load of silver screws that have a 2mm emeralds set in them.

Making and setting all the gemstone screws takes up an inordinate amount of time.


I cut this amethyst into a reflector cut.

It gives an illusion of depth. ( click on the picture to see it bigger, bright eyes)



The bow, cocked and loaded with a hardened steel bolt.( arrow)

The tongue is made out of gold.


Close up of the rear claws.


Close up of the trigger.


I used Liver of Sulphur to darken the bottom of the wings.

I like this angle.

The bottom plates are made of steel and brass  threaded pins.

It very heavy, so that the bow can be cocked without the sculpture shifting.


You just don’t want to wake up and see this outside your window.



Approaching trouble.


The PteroBow is 420mm wide and 400mm long and 380mm high.

About 300 hours of work.

Here is a video showing the immense power of the PteroBow!!
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