A tiger is what sent me to Shidoni Foundry in NM. It was last year, when I was working on the 15 foot Grambling University tiger that I made the leap and some traveling, to have my work cast at Shidoni Foundry in NM. I really love the work at Shidoni, the people, and frankly, Shidoni is giving me the best bids.
It is a bit of a commitment as they are 834 miles (12 hours 49 minutes drive) from my home studio in Houston, Texas. So, a few months ago, I sent off another one of my pieces for Shidoni to work on. I created “Called To Pray” for Dallas Baptist University as a limited edition of 10. North Greenville University in South Caroline purchased number two in the edition.
For each sculpture that is cast at Shidoni there are a few things that the distance makes difficult. The first is getting my molds to the foundry. This problem could be much worse; I could be trying to get a clay sculpture made in a wax based clay across the hot desert of Texas and NM. However, with the help of some incredible interns I make my own molds. When the molds are done I can send them, drive them myself, or have someone pick them up. (TRIP 1.)
In the past, when I worked with local foundries, I would like to look at the waxes, and even work on the waxes. This is a portion of the lost wax method of bronze casting that I have to give up by working with a foundry so far away. This has been very difficult for me. But I am coping.
Once the foundry is done with the sculpture I must go to approve the metal and give instruction on my patina, or the color. Though I might be able to get away with shipping companies with the other trips, this one is one that I must do in person. (TRIP 2.)
Ship the sculpture- Most often the sculpture is shipped through my favorite art shipping company Acts Crating and Freighting. It is just easier to have them do this. From time to time I can see where I will pick up the sculpture and bring it back. At this time I might combine bringing the sculpture back with trip 3.
Retrieve the molds-(TRIP 3.) Unfortunately, I have to retrieve my molds as Shidoni has no place to store the molds in between castings. This is a shame as it is usually not the most opportune time for me to have to get the molds. I think this is my biggest hindrance in working with a foundry at a distance. It would be good if there was short term storage, which we are working on. That way I can pick up molds from more than one job at time and perhaps after dropping off others.
It is a good thing that the foundry gives me such excellent prices as I would never be able to do the back and forth without that. The cost would be prohibiting. Of course Shidoni is set up for casting monumental sculptures, which is another plus.
I do love my side trips to Santa Fe- the sunsets, the art, and the hiking. while there, I am running to the foundry a lot, or sometimes camping out there and writing in between checking on the job, in fact, that is where I started writing the book that I am finishing up now.
This time I brought my daughter and granddaughter thanks to some frequent flyer miles. It was a joy to share this special place with my girls. My grand daughter enjoyed the foundry sculpture garden, as I hear most kids do. My favorite piece is the work of Gib Singleton. I’m inspired by his work and sad to hear that he has passed away. Don’t be surprised if you find that his style creeps into my personal pieces in the future.
If all goes well I’ll be making plans for another tip to NM for one of the best commissions of my life. More to come on that. Meanwhile, another great job by Shidoni. “Called to Pray.” ships in the next week to its SC home._______________________________________________
Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.
Her blog can be found at https://creativesculpture.com.
She is the vice chair of the planning committee for 3DCAMP Houston 2012 and 2013 http://www.3dcamphouston.com
Follow the artists on twitter twitter.com/Sculptorwriter