How wonderful to receive this email from Dallas Baptist University executive Vice president Blair Blackburn. Glad to see it now has a name “Called to Pray.” I really enjoyed this piece. Prayer has always been important in my life and it was a blessing to be able to put that in a sculpture.

Stay tuned to how you can purchase a small replica of this statue.  We are working on that now.

Bridgette,
Thank you for your faithful dedication to complete the “Called to Pray” sculpture for Dallas Baptist University. We are grateful to God for your partnership to advance the Christ-centered mission of DBU as we seek to transform the lives of our students as servant leaders.

On April 6, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Dr. Gary Cook as President of DBU. We have enjoyed this wonderful milestone in Dr. Cook’s presidency and in the life of the University. I want to share with you the pictures of the “Called to Pray” sculpture as it is currently mounted in the garden and will be for years to come.

Bridgette, the students marveled at the new “Called to Pray” statue dedicated in Dr. Cook’s honor as they entered the sanctuary for Dr. Cook’s 25th Anniversary Chapel Service on April 8. We are so grateful to you for your creative talents, led by the Holy Spirit, to craft this sculpture for the DBU Family. The “Called to Pray” statue will stand as a tribute to Dr. Cook’s legacy as a spiritual leader, but more importantly, this symbol will serve to remind all of us to be on our knees, submitting to the Father’s will and seeking His direction for our lives.

We enjoyed working with you on this special project. Thank you so much for diligently working with your team to accomplish this task in a remarkable amount of time.

Bridgette, your investment will forever shape the generations of students to come to study and to be transformed on University Hill. May the Lord abundantly bless you as you serve Him through your time, talents, and relationships.

Sincerely,
Blair Blackburn

 I have moved on to a new project that is as consuming, if not more so than “Called to Pray” .  Having this e-mail come in today really raised my spirits as my head is spinning with the new project and raising a 13 1/2 foot tiger in a warehouse space.  Here is the project blog on the Grambling State University Tiger project, for those who are interested in following along with my work.

Very overcast as we drive the lovely spring drive from Houston to Dallas. Wildflowers dotted the path as we drove.  

We arrive onto the DBU campus ready to complete the praying man sculpture project. The last few steps are

1. Deliver 2. Install 3. Dedicate
Of course we are not doing the installation or dedication so we can only hope picture of both of these come back to us for the blog. 

I’m always so excited to see the sculpture of Sam Houston by my friend David Adickes.  It says goodbye when we leave
and greets us when we arrive home. 

Also, we are working on a small table top version of the sculpture for purchase. Stay tuned to this blog for more on that. The travel time up to Dallas was nice. Overcast- I prayed the rain would hold off until it was delivered.  It didn’t start raining on us until we got into Dallas.  

Everyone contemplates removing the sculpture.
I have sent a text on ahead and said, “have lots of strong men, gloves and a covered area
to unload.”  Everything is in place when we arrive. 
It is raining and I’m so thankful for a covered area to unload.
Team work and a little prayer. Our burden is light, but the praying man is heavy.
It is estimated to weight about 350-370. 
I explain the process of installation as the sculpture is
covered.  We are on our way back home in no time.
My job is done, until we begin the process of manufacturing
the small sculpture of the praying man. 
It is necessary to make a template for the sculpture. Bolts are
welded in the underside of the sculpture. Threaded rods
are put into these bolts. Holes will need to be drilled in the
concrete where this sculpture is placed.  A template will help
my client install the sculpture.  

Whenever I am going to deliver a sculpture weather is an important factor, especially if it is big.  We had not had rain in a while in Texas and sure enough, the day I have slotted for delivery, the forecast says heavy showers.  

I’m thankful that we have no rain while loading the sculpture up in Houston.
How do we get it in the van?  An engine hoist and two creative foundry men assist with this.

We are blessed with no rain, until we reach Dallas. The trip home is another story entirely.

Going for a ride down a ramp.  
The sculpture is hoisted onto the waiting pallet
No, he is not putting on the prayer covering, this shirt is
protecting the bronze. 
An engine hoist works perfectly to get the sculpture
into my awaiting van. 
Miguel is a wonder when it comes to the foundry. I trust this
man with all of my creations. 
Strapping down the sculpture, just in case.
My template is packed, I have the threaded
rods and we are on our way.

When the foundry calls and says, “We are ready,” I’m there.  First I look over the sculpture and discuss possible tweaks with the piece. The foundry needs an extra couple of days to fix my suggestions before we begin to do the patina.

The patina is done by heating up the bronze sculpture and then adding chemicals to add color. This sculpture is done in a traditional patina. This means there is no real color other than the traditional brown.  The care of a bronze sculpture is important.

The sculpture is sandblasted and ready for patina.
Miguel heats up the entire sculpture and then adds chemicals
to create the dark patina.
Slowly, color is added to the sculpture.
I’m there for the entire process. I like to be able to direct.
“Make this lighter here, or darker here.”
Often the foundry will squirt the bronze with water.  This
helps me to see how the sculpture will look once it is waxed.
It helps me to know where I want things changed.
It takes some time to bronze a large sculpture.
Once the entire sculpture is complete it is covered
with a coat of wax.
We will wait to polish the sculpture until after it is installed.
Notice the torch on the bible. There was something about the
foundry man working in this sacred space.  The heat on the bible
The patina, making the words pop out of the text.
I just had to post this picture.

to all of my clients so they know what to expect with a bronze sculpture that is placed outdoors.

Most people reading this blog will cringe at the pictures in this post.  Yes, the praying man has gone to pieces, but the foundry will put him together again.

These sections went from clay, to mold, to wax and now
metal, they now need to be put together. 
Again, I’m tickled when I go to the foundry,
 but how else are you going to grind and weld the underside? 

Bridgette Mongeon created this sculpture for Dallas Baptist University. If you would like to read the entire process on the artists project blog for this project visit http://prayingmansculpture.blogspot.com/ .

As I sit and write this blog about the praying man and see the stages of the creative and bronze process I wonder if there are comparisons.Vision- action-perseverance-tenacity

Vision is important but to take that forward takes so much more. 

I have a vision, it comes together only through a considerable amount of work.  There may even be creative obstacles in the way.  I have skill, to create this vision. This is something that has taken years to develop, but the other things that are necessary are the tenacity, and perseverance to get to the end.  Anyone who has had a vision, or a direction they felt God had told them to go and has followed that, knows that this sometimes takes years and years.  Modifications and perseverance are a must.

Approval of what is meant to be shown as perfect.  But the the artist knows the perfection only comes when the sculpture can first be severed. 

Approval- My perfection is not so- unless I am severed first. I  spend so much time making the final sculpted clay “perfect” for my clients  to see.  The perfection serves a purpose, so that the clients will give their approval to go forward, but in reality it is more work. I know there are things I can do when the sculpture is cut apart that I could not do with it as an entire “perfect” vision. Maybe that is how God works with us. We try to be perfect, and feel our direction is certain, but then our experiences our lives are severed and we wonder why?  It is because there is so much more God can do with the pieces than he could ever do with what appeared to be the whole. 

Severing a sculpture seems so drastic. So does garden pruning.
 In the garden I cut away perfect growth to make something grow fuller. How many times in our lives do we feel severed and wonder why?  Trust God.  Perfection and fullness is the goal. 

Those first seeing the process and watching me cut apart the praying mans sculpted piece might think this is severe.  I, as the sculptor, see the importance of this.  I cannot make this a solid object. I cannot get it to where it is supposed to be without this part of the process.  I try to reassure those reading the blog, or new artists, don’t worry- trust the process.  I can also trust the process because I trust the hands that will be shaping this sculpture long after I have let go.  My foundry man Miguel is incredible and I trust him with all of my artwork.  I have followed him wherever he has gone, as I know that the end will be incredible.  I also trust God with the pieces of my life. I guess you could say, he is my foundry man.  Though I’m not sure how all of my own pieces in my life go together. I know he will make me a work of art. 

Mold making- trying again to make things perfect for this
stage of the bronze process. But I know each part of the
process has a place. It has limitations. I can’t reach what I
am after until I proceed through the entire process.  I must
continue on to the end or I will not see the results come
together.  Very similar to our walk with the Lord. 

Mold- Here I have the time to clean each severed piece. Though this is still a process and I know that even though I work diligently at mold making I will still be working once again in this next stage in wax. I’ll work to try and make everything perfect or as close to it  as possible.  Sometimes in my life I have stopped and actually said, “Just what is you plan Lord? I know you have one, but with all that is going on it is difficult to see.”  I guess I was just in the middle of God’s process of solidifying who I am. Wax-

In our fragility we reach for God through prayer. Make me strong.  
We trust, though we may never really understanding the process.  

Isn’t it strange that we go from a solid sculpture to this very fragile wax.  It holds the details, it is still in pieces and much closer to perfection that it once was, but it is even more fragile.  Again, I have encountered times in my life when I felt like I had the impression of what God was trying to do, however, still felt fragile. The important thing is to stick with the process. Trusting and continuing in what is set out before you. 

Gating up. Without the gates added to the wax when the sculpture goes through the bronze, the metal pouring it would blow apart.  Connections- The foundry man knows where to make those connections from one area to the other.  God knows how to connect the parts of our life.  There are things that happened 30 years ago, that I am now just seeing the importance of, the connections.  Even the painful things have a different meaning when looked at from a distance. 

How are the part of me, my past, my future connected? 

Detail sits beneath the layers of a shell.

The creating of this shell is so important. The details are transferred to it.  It needs to be strong and not have any holes in it or the bronze will not pour correctly.  Do we sometimes feel that our lives are still, almost smothered?  What is God doing to the details that we don’t know about? The PourI find so many comparisons between sculpting and my spiritual life.  This pour means we need to heat the shell in an oven and pour molten bronze.  I have a bible study I have created about clay and our walk with the lord. Even with a water based clay that is fired in a kiln the clay is useless unless it goes through this heating process.  It can hold nothing.  But fire it and it becomes strong. The interesting thing with the water based clay that is fired in a kiln is that the white clay before firing is actually grey, but the firing process turns it to pure white.  I don’t need to compare more than that.  Our trials our tribulations strengthen us and sometimes they make us feel like we are going through fire. 

Bridgette Mongeon created this sculpture for Dallas Baptist University. If you would like to read the entire process on the artists project blog for this project visit http://prayingmansculpture.blogspot.com/ .

A bronze hand

I visit the foundry weekly checking on things. This weekend I worked on the waxes of the rocking chair when returning to the foundry the praying man is in pieces and stages throughout the area.  Here is what I have seen over the last couple of weeks.

Coming together
floor is through the process of wax,
gates, and dip and sits
awaiting the pour of bronze. 
Breaking shell

The many pieces of the praying man will go through this next stage of the foundry process.  First let’s recap. These are the steps that have taken place so far.

  • Sculpting
  • Mold making
  • Wax
  • Cleaning of Waxes
  • Gating up
  • Dipping
I was not at the foundry for the pour of the praying man, things are very busy around the studio as we are getting ready to start the Grambling Tiger and my daughter is getting ready to birth my granddaughter.  I’m a bit preoccupied.   I do, however,  have these stages documented from the previous sculpture of Evelyn and The Prairie View Panther.
In this video you will see that each of the wax pieces are put into a very hot oven.  The wax melts out of the shells.  This is the reason this process is otherwise referred to as the lost wax method of bronze casting.  The shell where the wax once was will now hold the metal.