Kanawha River Game Fish

Kanawha River Game Fish

When I first got the idea to make this, I was still new to making molds. I was messing around with making small things, but then when I had a friend give me a large amount of lead I came up with the crazy idea of pouring something larger with it. I ended up making a plaster mold of a freshwater drum for the project. The first time I poured a cast, it was a complete failure. At the time, I wasn’t sure why, but looking back I realize the main problem was that I didn’t get the lead hot enough. On top of that, I had done a test pour with wax and there was still some waxy residue in the pours of the plaster. When I poured the molten lead into the mold, it instantly turned the wax into a super-heated gas and it escaped through the pour hole which was probably really very dangerous. Luckily I didn’t get hurt, all that happened was the product was horrible and it cracked the mold badly. I was discouraged to say the least, and pretty much gave up on the idea and even through away the mold. Over the next night, I thought about what the problems were and realized my mistakes. The next day I retrieved the mold from the trash and did some repairs for another attempt. I also used a 55 gallon drum as a sort of heat barrier to put around the pot I was melting the lead in as well as the burner to hold the heat in which effectively kept the lead a great deal hotter. I also preheated the dipper I was using for the actual pouring of the lead. The lower image is the product of this pour and as you can see it turned out pretty good. The pectoral fin was molded and poured separately and then attached afterwards with some simple trim nails.

Kanawha River Game Fish (detail)

The type of fish is a freshwater drum which is found in the Kanawha River next to where I grew up and still live. It is a type of fish that feeds off the bottom so it is one of the first to consume heavy metals and poisons released into the river by our local chemical plants and other industry. If you live near the Kanawha River, you know that you aren’t supposed to eat fish out of it for this reason because you can get these metals and poisons second hand through the fish. For some reason, this has always stood out to me because it seems that if we know we are poisoning our water that much, why don’t we quit? Obviously, this same water is going to end up in our bodies eventually. Humans are such idiots sometimes. After I had the lead fish done, I was trying to decide how to display it and that is when I came up with the idea to put it on the broken plate with bent silverware like someone was trying to eat it. I then furthered this idea by doing an entire installation of a dinner table which you can see in the upper image as well as in the detail image. Oh, and this piece received an honorable mention at the 2009 Student Juried Exhibition in the Birke Gallery at Marshall University.