Trefor Prest Sculpture

the process of making my sculpture

Category: The workshop

Hopes and Material


Here is the result of the last few days work in the shed. The photos below show how I made the two swivel pieces on the ends – The larger, central horseshoe piece was made in a similar way.


Most of the work up to this stage has been done on the milling machine. I started with a block cut from a brass bar.


The block has had a 1″ wide slot cut to accept the 1″ wide pin which will fit into it


I have now drilled the block to accept the pivot pin attachment shaft. This is the sort of operation which would have been quite tricky for me in years gone by but with the mill a high degree of accuracy is possible.


The outer shape of the part is produced on the lathe after shaping the cut away with a belt and disc sander.


The pivot pin is turned from a length of 1″ bar which I have drilled for the attachment bar and right through the middle for the pin attachment screw.

new part


This is the assembled part. The one on the other side was made the same way.

The assembly I have made will I hope be the connection point for several elements in a sculpture which is developing. I have little more than a vague idea of how it might turn out, an aspiration rather than a plan. At this stage everything is up in the air and subject to the interaction between the hopes and the material.


The Minds Eye

This is how the three elements eventually came together

I had a struggle with the way the curved lower bar finishes on the base plate. It went through several stages, beginning on the left. Just another occasion where the things that seem so clear cut in the minds eye do not survive the translation into three dimensional reality.

Hose clips

This post covers the making of a part which will hopefully come together with the part in the last post. I am not quite sure how they will actually connect.

Here is the mould I am using for this part and the mould with copper beaten around it, secured with hose clips.

On the left nine pieces of brass rod have been bent to fit, clamped to half of the copper skin and welded together. At right a thinner piece of bar has been welded to one of the protruding rods and is gradually being bent into shape.


Here’s how it looked at the end of the day, welded up and filed into shape. Both halves of the copper skin are attached, once again with hose clips. What would I do without them!

Short Days of Winter

Here is the product of the last little while spent playing around in the shed.

On the left is the mould which was cut from a slab of 1″(25mm) thick steel. It is quite a complex shape and required a horrific amount of grinding, building up with weld metal, then grinding back again.

In the middle I have shaped some copper around the underside of the mould and attached a brass frame.

That blob on the right is a sheet of copper which has been shaped around the upper surface of the mould.


Below – The upper half of the copper skin has been attached and the edges of the two halves welded together and sanded smooth.


A Little Story

IMG_0006  IMG_0012

Here it is, finished at last, and called “A Little Story” It’ s only a small thing, about 300mm high, but it’s had a difficult gestation.

Some of the parts I made but discarded are shown below


I had quite a struggle connecting it to the base. On the left a davit attaches to the top, whilst the right photo shows a midway mounting. Different swivel styles were also tried, but in the end I went for a simple rigid post mounting. There are no moving parts in this one at all.

IMG_0029       IMG_0014

Horse and Cart

After the last disaster I had to start again with the so called trunk. This time I am using brass bar. First off I tapered the bar with the lathe, as shown below.


Next came many hours with the oxy torch and bending tools as shown in a previous blog. ( goodbye to the crutch, Jan 22 )


Here it has been installed after a few more bits have been welded on.


I am much happier with the way it is going now. This little setback has forced me to step back and rethink. Much as I hate to admit it, I was seduced by my new tool – the cart was getting in front of the horse.




Transformation ……*****!!!!


I have been working on a small piece for some time. This is how it started out, a length  of 8mm brass square bar heated and bent around a form.


More Bits of square bar are formed and added. I had a minor breakthrough in that the parts were TIG welded rather than being drilled, tapped, screwed then silver brazed as I would have done before I bought my new welding machine.IMG_0005

All was going well until I reached the stage shown below.IMG_0022

The copper “trunk” on the right was fabricated from eight separate copper pipe sections welded together., again with the new TIG welder. As I was grinding off the welds I realised that in places it was paper thin. So- a few days work work is transformed into scrap metal. The photo below shows the offending object.



Finishing touches

All those little things I was going to do later. Well this is later and the first thing was to cast a copper base plate. There were a few defects but I have run with it for a while and I think it will suit the piece well.


Here is another little part made from copper shaped over a simple form with three exit pipes emerging.


This is how it looks in situ.





These are the parts of the main form for the new piece. I say main form because the piece will be an interaction between two forms.This is a device I have often thought of using but for some reason seem to shy away from.

The following shots show the process of fabricating the upper part of the smaller form.


This photo shows a piece of annealed copper screwed two one side of the mould.


Now it has been hammered around the form with a soft tipped hammer in order to shrink the copper around the form.


The other side has been hammered round and the parts trimmed to fit with tinsnips.


Here the pair are roughly assembled and their relationship is about to begin!


The Promised Land

I have been working on a new piece for the last six weeks or so.It has been a bit slow to get off the ground, but now it’s starting to take off and I am (engaged) This is the most enjoyable part of the sculptural process.

How it works for me is that I start with an idea, just a vaugue possibility really. This stays in the head for a while until it bubbles over into the material world and I start making. This can be quite exciting but the euphoria soon fades as the technical difficulties arise and the compromises begin, leading to a period of struggle and doubt which can go on for some time.

But eventually ( and this is where I am now ) doubt and uncerttancy seem to evaporate and a new possibility seems within reach.This often unleashes a burst of energy which can bring the work to its conclusion.

Then, inevitably, there comes the realisation that it’s not quite what I had hoped it would be and that the promised land is still just out of reach.

But by then, hopefully, the next cycle has begun.