I have another silicone product I meant to play with one day and now is the time. Plan B- or C or D or whatever plan now. More of a liquid, harder to use. Appears so far like it picked up more stamp detail. Once I have a good detailed wax I feel confident I can reproduce it exactly in bronze. Even more cool, copper. Because I it impossible to cast copper by lost wax method, because no known casting plaster can withstand the temperatures of molten copper. I love doing the impossible. I lost wax cast copper all the time.
I have a friend in the lost wax casting business I trust who could make this project happen if I had more time, and was at my wits end. I could even have him just make a mold and the wax’s, let me do the metal casting, so my local metals can be used. In the past he has said he does not wish to mess with my unknown metals, as he does not want to experiment. What he does is closer to being a science then an art form. He is not going to ‘guess,’ at temperatures with his fancy equipment. I eyeball it with a torch. “Dealing in unknowns,” should be my motto on a business card. The specialist. Come to think of it, I have never in my life found myself without another option.
The one paying me is an artist, and has no issues with experimenting, solving issues that come up one at a time as they come up. I’m not overwhelmed, discouraged, upset or feel bad. It’s
all a learning process. I know all the ways now that it does not work. The basic concept could be interesting for other artists thinking of making art that resembles a coin, with little equipment or knowledge.
The one who is fronting the money- henceforth referred to as ‘Miss Backer,’ informs me of the results of a meeting with the various people involved in producing the Nenana centennial celebration. On the subject of the coin update, Miss Backer says she was told,
“I could get this done for far less in China!” Miss Money had a fit. She and I just stare at each other deep in our own thoughts. She does adds,
. What to reply? I did point out. “Who else could use local barge propeller bronze, and copper from under the school?”
In truth I did not ask for the project, or even want it. I could see the future. I could design my own coin, like a mammoth on a coin that says, “Tucson Fossil show,” make 200, get $45 each, $9,000, minus $200 my cost to produce. Get told that is a bargain, “American made, in a log cabin in Nenana Alaska from barge propellers off the Yukon River, by a fossil dealer at the show…” Add “Hand made limited edition of just 200.” I guarantee a lot of people would say, “Why so cheap , should be $145” Why do I need to compete with slave labor in China? And get insulted doing so?
Why? I suddenly realize the whole story of creating the coin is the ‘Nenana,’ we are commemorating!
Miss Backer came to me in the beginning,
“I have a dream!” Being an artist, I share the dream. In a remote community of 300 people, two people will make it happen, produce a commemorative coin. In a one room log cabin, and $100 worth of outdated equipment. On a handshake, no contract, no money down, no agreement. Doing the best we can for a cause we believe in. A proud community going broke, barely able to pay it’s bills, population down from 1,000 to 300 within my memory.
The official community began as a boom bust community. A group of people had a dream to put in a railroad, crossing 500 miles of Alaska tundra wilderness to connect two isolated communities. Told it couldn’t be done, never been done. Biggest obstacle was crossing the Tanana River at Nenana. So a railroad camp was set up. Little money, no political clout, 90% guts and dreams. No one knew how a cement pillar in water would do at 70 below zero, so they spanned the river with no support in the water. Never been done before, ever.
History of our state. Dream of gold. Prospectors ran out of gold in California. Some dreamers walked with a backpack all the way to Alaska with nothing but a dream of finding gold. More died and went broke then ever found gold. Like following the Yellow Brick Road, some found a heart, or a home, or courage. “Go forth young man!” No permit, insurance, funding, help, no Walmart. What they all had in common was not giving up, and not doing things the usual way with instructions. The oil pipeline got built, never been done before, a gamble, potential to get rich or go bust. It could not have been done legally, so in truth a history of outlaws. The country needed oil, or so we were told. Built in record time, unique in the world.
History of the American dream! Who first arrived to build America? The rich? Who was on the Mayflower? Dreamers. Get away from an oppressive government, be able to farm, own a home, practice their religious beliefs. Independent free thinkers, making it on their own by their own resources, depending on small community, little funding from ‘back where they came from.’ Get it done yourself, or do without.
Our US railroad was built with Chinese slave labor. Nenana as a city, began as a boom and bust community built in a hurry. Handshake deals, nothing recorded, no paperwork, isolated subsistence people, with dreams. Much like OZ and his yellow road! Sending lost people off on missions with pieces of bogus paper, awards, medallions, certificates, handed out with speeches! “You too can own a piece of the magic! Step right this way and be amazed! ” Just bring me the ruby slipper! Produce the impossible! I am one of the village characters, storytellers. Oz the Wizard, at the same time, what a humbug! I sigh, I smile. But Gifted.
In truth, I doubt I will attend the big celebration. I am guessing 100 years ago there were a lot of locals who preferred to keep to themselves. I will be found in my shop at 4:00 am up to ‘something or other.” I have a 200 pound mammoth tusk to cut up. Parts of it, if I handle right will be worth $100 an ounce. I just created a video of that. What will I do with the other 99%? I have some ideas. I might be making burger from my hanging moose, 500 pounds of sausage to make. I already cut up the $1,000 opal I invested in. A bust, slices might be worth a total of $100, all the color disappeared . I’m optimistic I can do better with the next $1,000 opal I have not touched yet. I do not mind. I’d rather not make much profit. Then I’d owe taxes. I do not like supporting… well never mind. I’d rather be poor. Having fun, investing unwisely.
I could be working on book 10. I have some new ideas for writing, never tried before. It may or may not sell. It took 20 years to get my first book in print. I had a dream. Oh, and want to begin reading all my books into audio books, with sound effects. Do it with no money. Or editing video. I have been creating ‘how to,’ and YouTube footage. More ideas then I can list of what I might be doing on any 4:00 am morning. I have little time for celebrations.
This morning, I could not sleep. I have an idea for the coin mold I think will work. I’m up to play around. I’ll spend all day on it. No I do not need the money. Miss Backer at first wanted 500 coins with plans to give them away, hand them out to anyone who wanted one. Someone else outside the community made an offer. It was a lot of money, and she was paying. I hesitated when she asked if I could do this. I’d rather not have the project get outsourced to China.
Nenana, community of 300 is like a big family. 40 years here. I’ve seen boom and bust. More than one flood, forest fires, personally involved in political wars over our resources. We are a crossroads, river, air, road, all meet here. The serum run began here by dog sled to get serum to Nome, 800 miles, still no road. The ice tripod is here, so we bet on the ice going out. President Harding drove a gold spike here. We are a rare community with both tribal and city government overlapping, as has always been so. We have lot of memories to review!
All told in a simple story of creating a commemorative coin. My community, state, country, indeed the human race.
“For you? A special deal!” When will it be done? Um, I’m still working on it, overcoming some glitches, learning as I go. I have less then a month now. I produced a first casting in metal, but it needs improving. Here is the YouTube I made part two-- casting the coin