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.
The gated up pieces  of the praying man wait
on a shelf.They must be dipped many times. 

I’m going to the foundry weekly to check on things and make sure things are looking good and that we are progressing on the sculpture.  This week I saw that many of the waxes of the praying man were gated up. This means that wax rods were put in place for the gases to escape. Pouring cups were added as well. Then each of these pieces are dipped, many, many times. Depending on the humidity this can take several days. Other molds are having wax brushed in them. Still others are almost ready for a metal pour.  The many pieces of the sculpture are in various stages of the foundry process.

The floor is gated up and ready for pouring. The wax
sits in their molds while they awaiting the dipping. 
In another area the wax arms 
of the chair are waiting my approval. 
The inside of the bible and bottom of chair receive
many coats of wax.  

The last and final piece to be complete for the praying man is the bible and seat.  The biggest hold up with this was the text that was to be created in the bible. Usually I hand carve the text; however, this was three verses and quite a bit of text.  After much deliberation I had the text created as a rubber stamp that is reversed, the type is indented into the rubber. I completed sculpting the bible and then put this stamp inside the pages, claying up to the edges.Then we made a mold of the seat and bible.  THE FINAL MOLD IS COMPLETE! Everything will now go to wax and metal.  

A rubber stamp is made of the verse. 
The rubber stamp was clayed up and set within the bible
pages. Here is the seat after the mold was made. 
The seat is a large mold, but it is the final mold. Time to
clean the studio and get ready for the next project. 
Each mold must be cleaned before sending to the foundry.
The text on the bible looks great! 

Once the waxes are poured and cleaned the foundry will gate them up. Gating is adding wax channels to the wax pieces so that gases can escape.  A pour cup is also added to the wax.

Pouring cups are added to each piece as well as gates. 

Today I went to the foundry to check on more waxes and saw that a good deal of the praying man has been gated up.

From the molds that are provided the foundry pours wax,
or with larger molds they brush it in.  Then because the molds
are in two parts each wax must be cleaned.  Blemishes from
the pouring process and seams are removed.

Today was a day at the foundry. Once again, most artists don’t go to the foundry and look at their waxes. I suppose it is because I’m a perfectionist, or maybe I have a hard time letting go. I tell everyone it is because I might want to tweak something in the wax. Today I  only had to do a little bit of tweaking. Here is the foundry process of waxes.

I’m headed back on Tuesday, maybe they will be able to take pictures of the next stage- gating up.

Slowly wax body parts are accumulating at the foundry
A wax is hollow.  This thickness will be the thickness
of the bronze- more on that later.  Many people think that
when they see a bronze it is solid.  It is not.  This will all
make much more sense once you see the rest of the process. 
Cleaning wax hands that touch the Word. 
Pieces are everywhere in the studio.  
Interns are smoothing, cleaning,
and claying up. The place is quickly becoming
quite a mess. 

The mold making process is a long and grueling part of the lost wax method of bronze casting. This part is usually done by the foundry. I enjoy having a bit more time to look at the pieces and see what more work I can do on them when I create the molds.  Because of the time crunch on this project and my desire to tweak just a bit more we are making the molds in my studio.  Now be careful, if you don’t leave the studio with some rubber attached to your clothing you will leave with plaster dust.  I have until January 28th to get these molds done and out of the studio as I need to clean up the space for my daughter’s baby shower on the 2nd. Oh Lord, give me strength. 

Another way of of creating a seam around the mold is by
using shims.  The advantage of this way of making the
mold is that both sides can be covered with rubber at the same time. 
The many many pieces of the sculpture must be made into
individual molds.  Sometimes this is done by “claying up”
one half, then painting rubber on the portion. 
Interns mix and then apply each coat.  It is an important
step in gathering all of the detail. 
Some days were cold in Houston, but plaster 
Plaster and hemp a messy job. 
Each mold once it has been coated with rubber, and the
rubber is covered with plaster must be separated.
The original artwork is taken out of the mold, the mold is
cleaned and then it is inspected, put back together and sent
to the foundry.  Antoinette and Alison work on cleaning molds.

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/ .

Don’t let this part scare you. It is what happens with every single sculpture that goes to bronze. We spend all of that time making it perfect only to cut it up into many, many pieces.  This part is usually done by the foundry.  My team and I continue on with this part of the process.  I like to do this because I can tweak the sculpture even more.  There will be more smoothing and working with the sculpture. 

Cutting apart the chair to make a mold 
The reciprocating saw- my favorite tool for this part of the process- Off with his head! 

It is amazing how many, many pieces in a bronze sculpture. 

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/ .

Can’t wait for that sacred space to return.
The process looks pretty intense, but it will all come
together in the end. 
Reducing things to the basic elements. 
Pieces are placed on tables all around the studio.
They patiently await the mold making process. 
I believe the passion translates. 

It has been about a month since I physically started sculpting on the piece and just about 7 weeks since we met in Dallas to discuss the project. This is  a miracle.  I’m thankful that God has kept my health, as well as the health of all my interns in check.  Dr. Blackburn and Shannen Smith come to my Houston studio to look over the sculpture.  I’m elated when they tell me I don’t have to change the hair. 

The client looks on like it is surgery.  
If you think cutting ears off is something,
just wait to when we get to
the mold making process. 
A review of the special shoes. 
A look into the “sacred space.” 
Prayers over the piece. We still have a long way to do. 
The client keeps walking around the sculpture, taking it
all in. I’m pleased they are happy.  Then I show them what is hidden in the shoes.

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/ .

Continuing our work on the Praying Man for Dallas Baptist University. You can find their project blog on Blogspot.

THE HAIR
I know that you had said you might prefer a different hairstyle. I do hope you will consider my suggestions and thoughts about the hair. I don’t believe I make these decisions for the art on my own; I do feel that there is meaning and intention that is greater than my own that goes into these details.

When beginning to sculpt the hair I tried a few different hairstyles. The wispy look of the hair is inspired by Jeane-Antoine Houdon sculpture of inventor Robert Fulton. I loved creating the hair. It was at night, the interns go home, and I am alone with the sculpture. It is my favorite working time because that is when I can “hear”the intentions that are coming from my hands. It is very similar to “feeling” direction after prayer while rocking in the rocking chair.I am pleased with the hair, and when asked if I could change it the thought startled me. I had to ask, why? Why God, why is this hair so important to me?I stepped back and said, it is full of emotion. It is just above the arms of the chair, and because it is full of emotion and motion it draws you in to the rest of the sculpture.

I sought more; this is an artist reason, but it felt a deeper attachment to this hair? Why? I thought of how I strive to change to live in God’s image. My heart reminded me that I go to my prayer closet to seek God, I am not perfect. It seems that in this sacred place of this sculpture the man should not be “perfect.” When I go to God in prayer I don’t have everything in place, I don’t have everything figured out. I come to seek God, just as I am. Sometimes, this praying time is easy, ritualistic, other times it is heart wrenching. I bring the loss of a child, a parent, and a relationship. I come seeking a deeper knowing of God, a direction. It is these times—as I am bending on my knees I am I am running my fingers through my hair as my knees hit the ground. “This is yours Lord, I need you, I can’t do this alone, I need your guidance, and I am only a man and not perfect. I will sit here as long as it takes, I am in earnest and seek my perfection in your grace. ”The man kneels, his hands resting on the word of God, the arms of rocker embracing him as he seeks.

You are the client, I will change the hair, in the wax to whatever you like; however, I do hope you will entertain and pray about the creative direction of the artist and the intent behind the guiding of my hands.

I look forward to seeing you on Monday. Bridgette

Continuing our work on the Praying Man for Dallas Baptist University. You can find their project blog on Blogspot.

I could not get the bible done before you arrive. The hardest part about this job was that so many vendors were shut down for the two holidays. The bible is roughly indicated. You can see where the scripture will go, but the words are not inscribed and the pages and edges are not sculpted. But just as with the chair, we needed to “place” it to be able to put all the pieces together. Once we take the chair apart for mold making, the bible will be completed. I’ll send photographs to you for your approval, at a later date. I did begin to layout the scripture, and you can see that it starts on the left side and rags to the right page, just above the mans hand. It is almost as if he has just read it and is resting his heart and his hand on the meaning of the words.

Stain glass crosses in his shoes

I love sculpting feet. We all know the feet arereferenced in the bible.

 Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.” NIV 1984Take a closer look at the bottom of his shoes. Subtle, but it is there. A little hidden surprise for you.(Later we revise this a bit taking out the edge of the cross on both sides. During the approval process someone points out that it looks like a stain glass window. I love when others find things that I didn’t realize I was doing. )