FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 9.22.37 PM

Off with his head! This helps me a great deal. I can turn the image upside down and easily see all sides. The most difficult part is the aging in the photographs of Booker T. Washington.

It is crazy busy in the studio these last two months.

Baseball
I took a trip to Florida to Tampa to be with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League AAGPBL. If you don’t know the story about this league, check out the movie A League of Their Own. I hung out with many of the original women in the league. Many of these women are in their 90’s The AAGPBLis an incredible part of history. One of the reasons I was there is because the AAGPBL commissioned me to do a sculpture of Penny Marshall. Penny Marshall was the director of the movie A League Of Their Own. She made a difference in the lives of many through making this movie. 

Latin Jazz.
One of the subjects that I have sculpted was honored in the Mayor’s office. She is getting her own day and is one of the first Latin American sculptures in the city of Houston. So, I was able to go to the courthouse and present part of the sculpture- A bronze dog named Kippy. I love this little dog. Then, later on, there was the unveiling of a sculpture of Norma Zenteno. She is a musician who died of cancer, she is loved by many. Her family has been in the entertainment industry for years and really played a part in Latin music in the city of Houston.  They created a movie about the family and presented at the unveiling. Unfortunately Norma won’t be installed for a while, but she is done.

There was a radio interview on KPFT. I also  had a 13-foot tall sculpture install in the North Part of Houston in Generation Park. No dedication set at this time. It is a sculpture of Eve.

It has been a busy two month, and in between all of that I have been working on the small sculpture of Booker T. Washington. Now that all of these are off my plate I can turn my focus onto Booker T. As you can see. I had to cut off his head.

Sculptor/Writer Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

MadHatterBridgettesml

Bridgette poses with the clay of the Mad Hatter and a very famous teapot.

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO

Bridgette has worked both traditionally and digitally for a long time. She has said time and again.

In my studio, Alice and her friends have gotten bigger and smaller, not with elixirs and mushrooms but with digital technology.

As an artist, she has had a foot in the digital world and another foot in the fine art field, and created a niche for herself. Her book on 3D tech in fine art was the culmination of a lot of trial and error on her part. In an interview with Women in 3D printing, she said, if she can’t get it out of the computer, it is useless to her. That is where CNC milling and 3D printing come into her studio.

When she was creating the monumental sculpture of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea party for Evelyn’s Park in Bellaire, Texas, she wanted to pay tribute to the man who started the technology. After all, it all started with a teapot. She wanted an homage to the man. It had to be at her famous tea party.

You may not know that she hid 150 things in the bronze scene of “Move One Place On.”that is at Evelyn’s park. She did this to encourage literacy. You have to know where they are in the story, as well as in the sculpture. She also hoped to encourage curiosity. Many people have begged her to release the list of 150. She is only doing this through riddle and rhyme on her social media pages. One of the 150 hidden things that she put in the sculpture was in honor of the technology she uses. Do you see it?

Teachers and Students

Here is the riddle

Tech marries clay in Wonderland,
The Hatter steps in and lends a hand.
Not from Texas, but Utah it came.
Not victorian but rather plain.
Because Sandra and Martin liked their tea,
an homage to a man you now do see.

If you don’t know, watch this video. You will learn all about the famous teapot.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIxt9guMbXo]

 

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 4.38.59 PM

A very rough start.

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
Though I have a tiny chair, it is easier for me to sculpt this little figure while being able to see all around him. I have to stop and search around the studio. Do you know I have three bins in my studio that are titled “Things that hold other things up.” We refer to that bin often, but instead, I find a teacup that I purchased, thinking I would need it for my large Alice sculpture. It is just about the right size. Now it is a seat for my little Booker T. Washington. My laptop is next to me and can use the photographs of Dr. Phillips in my Google drive, along with those I have in Pinterest to see folds and create his clothes, hands, and shoes. Dr. Phillips could not cross his legs in this same position, and the cut of the clothes from this period are different, so I have to go back and forth between past and present to get precisely what I am after.

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

fullsizeoutput_3898

I must first create a wire armature similar to the ones in the picture. But what size?

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO

With many of my small sculptures, I start with a simple metal armature.  I will put clay on top of this wire armature.  Eventually, you will see that I’ll be reverting to my Alice In Wonderland sculpting days, and it will be “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”  It is just easier to work on a head that is not attached.  I’ll also cut off the hands and the feet.  But first, how big should we make the wire armature? There are lots of proportions that I need to take into consideration.  First, we have the photographs of Dr. Phillips in the chair.  I know the sculpture will be approximately 10 inches tall. I’m very visual. So, I xeroxed down a photograph of Dr. Phillips at 10 inches tall.  I have to be careful here. The image must be taken perpendicular to the subject, or it will change everything. Once there, I used string to see approximately how tall a man would be that is just 10 inches tall when he is seated.  I ran the string from his head through his shoulders. Then I went down to his hips up a leg and down to his feet. Once I had a measurement, I found images of a standing Booker T. Washington. Thank God for the Internet. It makes my job so much easier.

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 9.52.31 PM

Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon searched the internet for standing images of Booker T. Washington. She would use these to be able to get the proportions for a small sculpture.

Even though these images are of a Booker T. Washington at different ages, it still helps. I lined them up next to each other. I wanted his navel, head, and feet to align. This would help me with the general proportions of the man.  I also use Pinterest on my projects.  I created a Booker T. Washington  Pinterest page with the images that I found of Booker T.  I will refer to it often. Sometimes so much that I have to cover my lap top with something so clay does not get in the keyboard. You will also notice there are images on my Pinterest that are not of my subject. Sometimes, I’m just looking for clothing, or a fold or something of that nature, and it gets pinned to my Booker T. Pinterest page. I am chomping at the bit to get started. While I’m finishing up other jobs I instruct my assistant to put clay on the wire armature. Now the magic begins!

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 2.48.18 PM

Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon begins a Pinterest Page so she can have reference. She uses this along with a Google Drive folder that holds the pictures of the principal.

TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

Proportion is just one thing that Artist Bridgette Mongeon uses in her art that are STEAM related.  There are many types of math in a traditional artist’s studio. Here are some to explore.

What is the Golden Ratio? How have artists used it in their art?
Goldennumber.net has some information on Golden Ratio.

IMG_0364

A sample page of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Books. With highlights from sculptor Bridgette Mongeon.

If you want to get really excited, look at the Fibonacci number in nature. When you are looking at these things, it is interesting to know there is something called Sacred Geometry? What does that mean? Where does this term originate?

Do you know other artists who worked with math, proportion in their artwork?
Check out the math in Escher’s work. Here is a video lecture from Gresham College  And another from Oxford Mathematics  on the work of Escher.

Leonardo DaVinci was not only a great artist, but he loved to document things like proportions and science.  Someone took his notebooks and translated them. You can see his original drawings in his notebooks here. You can also see the translations and images in the book called The Notebooks of Leanardo Da Vinci Volume 1 and 2. 

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

 

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 9.00.40 PM

A tiny replica of the chair.

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
As we said, we need to make a little sculpture to have something to go big. The entire small sculpture of Booker T. Washington is going to be 10 inches high without a base.  It was the task of Bridgette’s assistant to take every measurement off of the large chair and figure out what proportion she needed to reduce it down.

Bridgette found a great deal of wood from Texas Art and taxed the assistant to replicate the chair. Bridgette knew some modifications would be needed. They would never be able to find the exact size of wood, but that is alright. They will add clay to the wooden chair to make it work.

Teachers and Students
Do you think you could replicate a piece of furniture you have in your school or home? What math would you need to be able to do this? What is the proportion of reduction.

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

booker t measurementsFROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
The team decide that the artist will make two sculptures. One will be a small table top version of the sculpture. These can be made into limited edition bronzes and may help the team raise additional funds. They can give them to those donating large sums of money or they can sell the outright. Stay tuned for information on this.

The other sculpture is the one for the campus. It will look very similar to the small sculpture but it will be 1 and 1/2 life size and will rest on a pedestal.  Bridgette will also use the small one to help to create the large one.

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

 

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
IMG_2330 (1)Having reference is very important. Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon figured that Dr. Phillips was about the same Height as Booker T. Washington. So she took the chair to the school and asked him to pose like Booker T. Apparently, Booker T. was a bit more flexible because the pose is not the same. But what this pose does, is it helps the artist to see a relationship. She can see the chair that she has in her possession and how it compares to a real man. It gives her visual information that she might not otherwise have. It would be great if Dr. Phillips was clothed in the exact waistcoat and coattails as Booker T. in the photographs. But this will do.

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

 

400px-BookerTWashington-Cheynes.LOC

A pin stripe is a bold fashion statement

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
When searching through the images of Booker T. Washington, I must focus on the clothes. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I’m sculpting them. I must know more about them. The one thing I like about all of my sculpture commissions is that there is a historical aspect to them.

When I sculpted the Newsboy for The Texas Press Association, I had to research the clothes that a Newsboy would wear. I learned so much. Interestingly, this is the same period as this Booker T. Washington sculpture. (As a side note: there was a big newsboy strike of 1899. Children everywhere made a considerable difference in the world because of this. )

layout_newsboy

Bridgette Mongeon’s Newsboy created for the Texas Press Association. Limited edition bronze.

Clothes can tell us a lot about the person, the period, the stature, social norms, etc. With my Newsboy, I learned that as the boys aged, their length of pants was an indication of maturity. In the production of The Music Man, which was set in 1912, there is a song titled “You Got Trouble”, with a line that says “the minute your son leaves the house does he unbuckled his knickerbockers below the knee?” Boys wanted their knickers long to show that they were grown up, so they would buckle them below the knee. I learned a lot about that time period by studying the clothes. I found an old pattern and sewed a reference outfit from that pattern for my sculpture.

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 9.52.31 PM

Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon searched the internet for standing images of Booker T. Washington. She will use these to be able to get the proportions for a small sculpture.

When I watched the show Downton Abbey I learned that you could tell how wealthy a man was by the size of his top hat. Understanding clothing and textiles teach us about history, technology, and social aspects of the time.

Let’s see what we can find out about the clothes that Booker T. Washington wore.

First, let’s put this in context.

  • Booker T Washington lived 1856 – 1915
  • The Emancipation Proclamation 1863 (Booker T. would have been six or seven years old.)
  • The civil war 1861 –1865 ( Booker T. was nine years old when it ended.)
  • The sewing machine was invented in September 1846.  They went into productions in the the 1850’s.  At this point a foot petal moved these machines.
  • The electric-powered sewing machine did arrive until about 1905.
  • The modern zipper came about around 1917 So, Booker T. had a button fly.
  • First Sears catalog was in 1889. Booker T. would have been 33.

Booker T. WashingtonKnowing these things, I can assume that most of his clothes would have been hand made. He may have purchased a few things off the rack, but you must know it is not like it is now. You could not just walk into a large department store. Perhaps he purchased his clothes from an old Sears catalog? Sears had a catalog from which you could purchase anything, including a house.

When wanting to know more about this subject. I had to do what I always do when approached with the history of which I am not sure. I consult those who know more than I. My sources were my friends from college.

Elizabeth has an MFA in fashion and costume and is a costume designer, and a costume historian.

Christine is a textile and a prototype designer at an engineering company.

I learned that clothing changes depending on the period and stature. For example, a man’s tie, before this period would have been more like a fancy scarf called a cravat. Did they become smaller because of the cost of the material? Booker T’s tie is more like a very small bow tie.

The material in the suit was probably wool. I had always thought wool was hot, but my informed friends tell me that it is not necessarily hot; in fact, it breaths. But how was that cleaned? They didn’t have a dry cleaner. One of my sources said that they often had many shirts, but not many suits. Brushing the suit off was one way to clean it.

You have heard the term “dress the part.” Booker T. had to be around a lot of important people. He had to try to win them over, and often, he would be fundraising for his projects. He had to “dress the part”. Booker T. would try to mimic high society, but not be too flamboyant.

The vests we see him wearing are referred to as a waistcoats. The neckline of the waistcoat changed, as you can see in these pictures, so did the size of the lapel. The size of the lapel on the jacket could be indicative of a man’s wealth, but so was the type of material and how well the suit was made. The coat that he wears over this waistcoat is called the morning coat, often longer in the back. We might think it looks more like coattails. As one source said, “Men at this point, were not dressing up to show their wealth, they were dressing up to show their character. If they wanted to show their wealth, one needed to look at how the wife dressed.” I thought this was a fascinating statement, and we could do much more research on the wife of Booker T. Washington and what she was wearing in photographs. Booker T. was also dressing to show his equality with others.

One resource commented on the pinstripe suit. In this pinstripe which is probably grey or brown, it was a fashion-forward decision, because it is a bolder choice. “I would guess Booker T. knows he is a celebrity and is always trying to look good. He is trying to promote his people.”

I have learned a lot about clothes. Now I must sculpt them. But I have some other details to work out first.

Teachers and Students

  • Read more about the Newsies Strike of 1899. What did the kids do to make a difference?
  • Would Booker T. Washington be featured in the newspapers? What was his influence with newspapers?
  • Students can extend their research to the wife of Booker T. Washington and her clothes. What did she wear? What does it mean?
  • What other things can you find out about clothing manufacturing and when it began. What types of machines were invented, and when?
  • We learned about copyright a bit, patent is similar, but has to do with inventions. Do you know what happened with the patent of the sewing machine?
  • What prices surprises you the most when you look up old photographs of the Sears Catalogue?

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter

IMG_1707

A friend has a similar chair. It is original, it is old, but it is a good resource.

FROM THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon counts on her social media followers to help her find information and resources. She has located everything from old teapots to models, and a trampoline needed for photos for reference. Once again, her social media friends come through. She posts the image of Booker T. and asks everyone what type of chair it is. A friend responds. “It appears to be an early 1900s Arts & Crafts style chair. (corbels under the arms, mortise and tendon construction). There were a number of arts & crafts (sometimes also referred to as mission) furniture and chair-makers in the early 1900s: Gustave Stickley, L&JG Stickley, Stickley Brothers, Roycroft, Limbert, Hardin, and others. From the seat bottom on this chair, my guess is early early 1900s. (No springs in the seat bottom). Many of the chairs from that period were made out of white oak and fumed. If the chair has flecking in it, then it was made with quarter-sawn oak. Some chair makers marked or “signed” their pieces either with a stamp, paper label, metal label, etc. Some Chairs can also be identified to the maker by finding the chair in an old Catalog, and some of those catalogs have been reprinted for purchase today.”

She has hit the jackpot in the information. Her friend guess in furniture also fits the time period— Booker T. Washington lived (1856-1915).
The artists searched further and discovered in Booker T Washington’s writing that the students had to make their own furniture. One can’t help but wonder how their skills improved over time.Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 9.37.03 PM

  • Teachers and students
    What did the term “mission style” come from? What period is it, and what type of furniture did it replace?
  • What is the “Art’s and Craft’s” period?

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon/
https://www.facebook.com/BridgetteMongeonSculptor/
https://twitter.com/sculptorwriter