Also: This is a sculpture created of John Turner for the city of Frisco. The entire project is documented on a project blog at https://johnturnersculpture.blogspot.com/
We followed along on the prep of a bronze sculpture in the last post. Now, let’s see how this is installed.
On my second day of travel, the John Turner sculpture and I end our journey at Frisco Heritage Center. This is a charming place to visit with old buildings. I can’t help look at the area and dream of benefactors that will let me create period bronzes with the faces of their loved ones that will enhance the visiting experience. I see bronze sculpture of children from history gathering in the school yard, or a boy and his dog playing on the porch of the old cabin. A family, in period costume, running to catch the train at the Frisco Depot or a black smith working in the blacksmith shop.
I only take moments to see these creative, inspirational bronze apparitions as we must quickly get to work. I arrive at 10 and we estimate this will take about 2 hours. I’m happy to see strapping young men and art handlers of Unified Fine Arts. They will come in handy when trying to lift out a 350 lb sculpture.
We watched the prep of this at the foundry and on site in the previous post. Now, let’s look at the rest of an installation. Together Unified Fine Arts, Nouveau Construction and myself go over he plans for the installation. I can’t be at every install, as my schedule and the travel will not always permit me to be there. In those cases I have strong communication with my clients, delivery and installers. However, I’m delighted to have been able to be at the install of John Turner. The slab has been poured, cured and ready. After Unified Fine Arts carefully unwraps the sculpture we begin to look at placement. I’m thinking of many things when placing a sculpture. Some of these things I have taken into consideration all the way back when creating the sculpture in the studio. Design questions I ask myself are:
- In what direction is my subject looking?
- What are the elements surrounding the sculpture that may interfere with the visual design?
- How does the sculpture look when you are approaching it?
- Does the placement of the design look good in configuration with the slab?
The men at Unified Fine Arts are patient. I wonder if they think I’m like a woman moving heavy furniture in a room, “No, the sofa may look better over there, but I don’t know, can I see it again?” I am a visual person by nature and so I often will move and fudge a sculpture, try one thing and another until both I and my client agree. The added visual element we had to concern ourselves with is the dedication plaque. The plaque will rest flush with the ground. I’m concerned as to where it is placed if people are taking pictures. I know children will love to come and see the dog. Adults may want to pose next to or behind John. I’d like to see it not be stepped on that much. Once we have exhausted our option we vote for the plaque to the right in front, and John facing the parking lot as if he is walking to go home. I do wish this concrete were stained the color of the other pavement, or ideally I would have loved it if the pavement circled around or he was put in an existing walkway. But this is what we have to work with and it does look fabulous.
InstallationOnce we have the placement of all of the visual elements I trace the places where the sculpture touches on the concrete with a pencil. Then the template is set in place and the holes are traced so the installers know where to drill. They drill holes into the concrete a bit wider than the threaded rods that I have provided.
Dry FitOnce the holes are cleaned out with an air compressor the installers prepare for a dry fit. They lift the sculpture and place the sculpture with the threaded rods extended out of the bronze, and place the piece into the holes. This is where a sledge hammer may come in handy. If the person drilling the holes did not drill them perpendicular to the slab then the rods will not fit in properly or if the foundry did not weld the nuts perfectly perpendicular then this will also be a a problem. The solution is to lift the sculpture out and either drill the holes more, or bang the rods into place with a sledge hammer.
Securing the sculptureOnce the dry fit is complete the sculpture with its threaded rods is lifted out and then epoxy is put into the holes. Carefully the sculpture is set back into place. The epoxy will cure quickly and secure the sculpture. Once complete, I walked around the park to see how the sculpture looks from all directions. I am more than pleased. My work is done here. The sculpture is now covered with a cloth to prevent others from seeing it until the unveiling. I often like to attach a small note to the tarp saying what it is and when it will be unveiled. I think this is an invite for others and prevents curious eyes from being tempted to take the tarp off and look for themselves.
Now for my long ride home. The van feels empty without the 350 pound sculpture, but my schedule is now just a bit lighter as I move on to a portrait bust and the sculpture commission created in loving memory of Norma Zenteno and in support of Barrio Dogs. I’m also still monitoring the bronze casting of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture of the monumental scene of the Mad Hatter’s Tea party created for Evelyn’s Park called “Move One Place On.” I’m also writing a book about the creation of this sculpture similar to my last book.
I kissed the dog goodbye. I have a long and emotional creative process with him and I had no idea until I left. I was going through the loss of a family pet when my children lost their home in a fire in February. If you feel some extra emotion coming from this dog, it is that love and tears that were put into the clay. I’ll be back up here next weekend for the unveiling. I can’t wait until John Turner sees the sculpture. I know you will ask, “How can he see it? he is blind.” That is the thing about sculpture and 3D work, it is meant to be touched.