The sculpture of the bronze little boy with a cape went home last week. I watched them package him up and send him home. It has been a while. I am sure the mom is anxious to see him. It was strange, the day the truck came for Lucas, my own child was moving away from home. More goodbyes!
My husband and I regularly foster animals for the Homeless Pet Placement League . Basically we take care of the dogs, make sure they are healthy and then take them to the adoption place, Petco on Shepherd on Saturdays. This little gal is Boots, and we have been fostering her for several weeks now.
When she arrived and would come into the studio, she loved to sit next to the Lucas sculpture. I thought it was strange. She would even plop right on his bronze foot. I moved all of her toys and blanket next to Lucas and would joke that Lucas has a dog.
I talked with Lucas’ mom just a few days ago and told her this story. She said that Lucas had always wanted a puppy, but she never got around to getting him one.
My husband said that when the Lucas sculpture leaves the studio to be delivered to his mom, Boots will probably get adopted.
It is very important to me to have Jeanine and Lucas at my Christmas party on Saturday and then off to their homes by Christmas. I stopped by the foundry today and it was so much fun to see Lucas running through the foundry. I loved on him immediately! I did notice that he didn’t have shoelaces. Often the foundry will fabricate the ties of the shoelaces. So I asked them to redo that and I came back later. When I arrived I almost fainted. Lucas was running with his shoes untied. “It can’t happen,” I said. The mother in me cringed and begged them to try again, making bunny ears and real loops. So it is back to the foundry in the morning. Can’t wait to see him again.
Jeanine is coming along, they are cutting her base and figuring out how to mount her bust on it. I need to go and get some real chain as this will be colored to match the metal and will sit around her neck.
So much to do.
In my off time, My apprentice and I spent a good deal of our time on the floor of the studio, scraping the clay off of it and washing it. It is a chore I hate and will only be done about once or twice a year. Alas, today is my birthday and I spent my morning on my knees. I’m still not done, I have a little bit more floor to clean. I think I may say a few prayers while down there this afternoon.
While at the foundry and making sure Lucas was going together correctly I had this picture taken of the two of us. He is still all glowing from the raw metal. Soon he will be ready to patina and to go home.
I love it when the foundry calls and says that a sculpture is ready for completion and can ship home to its rightful owner. I especially love it when it is a posthumous sculpture. I have worked for months trying to find and get to know my subject. Once found the sculpture must go through the bronze process. This means that the work that I labored on and enjoyed for so many months is now cut into pieces. When those pieces finally come back together in bronze and I see it, it feels like seeing an old friend.
Today I went to the foundry to look at Lucas. I still need to go back in the next week for one final look over. The foundry is checking out all of the final details. We decided that this sculpture should have a base, especially because the client wants to put it in their home. Though it would be best if they secured it to their floor just to be sure that Lucas does not “run” into anyone. The base is created and engineered to accommodate the weight of the sculpture, the cape and the action of the piece.
A bar was welded on the back of Lucas so that he could be hoisted in the air. It will be cut off after the foundry is done with the sculpture. Miguel takes a piece of wood cut in a shape for the base and shows me what that same piece, created in metal will look like. As he hoists Lucas in the air, I can’t help but think, “he really is flying like batman!” I know it is strange but I can feel Lucas with me when we are at the foundry looking at the piece. I took a wax replica of that wooden piece back to my studio to put a sort of grass texture on it. Now that will be cast and everything will be welded together.
That is a good question, though we have several months before we will be watching the Dick sculpture go through this process. Especially since the date of going to the foundry depends on our raising the $9,000.00 that is needed to cast and ship him.
Each of the sculptures that are going to become a bronze will have to go through this same process of the lost wax method of bronze casting. I’ll go into much more detail with the Dick mold but let’s take a quick look at Lucas.
The first step is making the rubber mold
This job is not easy and after coming off of 2 weeks of very, very long days the two apprentices and myself have sent the Lucas molds off to the foundry.
Let’s look at the Lucas sculpture and its process so you can see what will happen with Dick.
Once the sculpture is approved I have to cut it apart into smaller pieces. Though the Lucas sculpture is only the size of a 5 year old we have cut him apart into eight pieces. The decision of where to cut the Lucas is based on trying to figure out the easiest way to make a mold of him.
When these pieces are apart I can really see areas that, up until this point, have been difficult for me to work on. Places like under his arms and behind his legs. I love being able to finalize details on these smaller pieces. When the pieces are perfect, or as near perfect as I can get them I need to make a mold of each piece. First I put them on a board and make what will be a seam by separating them with a clay wall. This clay wall becomes a seam after the wax and plaster are applied. The seam gives me two halves so that when we pour a wax in this mold, which is the next step after the mold making process, we will be able to retrieve the wax piece without it breaking. I’ll show some pictures of the Lucas mold making process, but I’ll go into a more detailed description when it comes time to make a mold of Dick.
When the pieces are clayed up with a clay seam I must coat the entire piece very carefully with several coats of rubber that is brushed on.
Once this is cured a thin coat of plaster is put over the rubber. Hemp is mixed in with the plaster to give it strength. This plaster mold is called the mother mold. It holds the rubber in place.
The same process is done with the other side of this piece of sculpture. Of course the clay seam is removed because now I have a rubber seam. If you look carefully at the seam in the first picture I have carved a little gulley in the clay seam. This will make the two pieces match.
Once both sides are done, rubber and then plaster. Flipping the sculpture and then putting rubber and plaster, then the mold can be opened and the original sculpted piece removed. The last photo shows the two halves opened. The gulley created in the seam on the first piece now becomes a key so that the two mold pieces will go together perfectly.
With a sculpture of anyone I depend on the photographs that are provided by the clients. When a child is grown and the photographs that are provided are years apart, it makes little difference, but when you have a little boy of 5 and the photographic reference you have is of him at 3, and 4 years of age, it is very difficult. The change in Lucas in each photograph was drastic.
When I was finished with the sculpture of Lucas It was great to have him running around the studio. The one thing that I learned from this sculpture is that the point in the creative process where I feel comfortable that I have captured Lucas it is different from the families. Apparently, this knowing or feeling like I have him and peace with the sculpture is not about me capturing a likeness, because elements of the face changed. But the peace between the Lucas sculpture and myself came before the approval. It makes it feel like that essence is a bit more mystical.
Lucas loved to play with towels and sheets tied around his neck. I believed he liked batman. So I created him in perpetual motion. It reminds me of when we were kids in the 60’s and my brother and I would run around the living room singing that melody in the beginning of the batman series, “na na na na na na na na BATMAN!” Running around pretending to do the BAHM! WAMB! thing to each other. I had forgotten about all of that until just his moment. Thanks Lucas.
Here are some pictures of Lucas
While away at college in Vermont at the end of April. I was anxious to get home and work on Patsy. In my study of the process, I must say I am not sure what I read into this process to help me do it, and what is really happening. Several nights I said, right out loud, “Not now, be patient, I’ll get to sculpting soon.” I am not sure if I was telling Patsy or myself. However, since then I have had a second commission that has come about. Lucas was 5 when he drowned in the pool at his day care. As soon as his mother called and she began talking to me about Lucas and doing a sculpture of him, I felt an immediate connection to him. I have not seen any pictures of him however, I can feel him, and kind of see him in my head. I need to get Patsy further along before I can think about sculpting Lucas. I had noticed in the past that when I try to work on more than one person at a time, unless they are siblings, their personalities, spirits or whatever seem to get all mixed up in the clay. I don’t know how to define it, I don’t even know if anyone else notices. But I do!
The funny thing is I feel that same urging that I felt from Patsy about getting going on with the sculpture however, there are some differences. Instead of a nudging or a reminding, as I felt with the Patsy sculpture, there is this feeling of “Come play with me, please.” Once again, this may be what I read into the sculpture to be able to do it, and not anything mystical or psychic or of that nature. I just know that with that sort of pleading from Lucas it is hard to ignore.