Interview Questions - Alice in Wonderland Sculpture
Below is a series of interview questions with the artist. Click on the image thumbnails to see a larger picture. You are welcome to use these pictures in media with the proper credit. If you have other questions, please contact the artist directly.
How did this project begin?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon- In 2012, A former client of mine said they might be looking for a sculpture for a park. They had seen the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in New York Central Park and told me about it. I immediately was taken by the idea and opportunity of creating my interpretation of a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
Do you feel drawn to the work of Lewis Carroll?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon- Reading is my addiction. I'm also a proponent of literacy, and I'm a writer. Add all of those together, and you know I love the stories of Lewis Carroll. I know I have learned more about the story, the characters, and the author while researching this project, especially since I am creating a treasure hunt for items in the sculpture. Just a suggestion for those taking the treasure hunt challenge; you may need to brush up on the Carroll stories and the author if you want to find all 150 elements.
Why 150 elements? What does that mean?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-The scene is gigantic and consists of all of the characters, the table, settings, and seating. Instead of a dedication plaque, there is a large storybook with dedication. The book sits on a stump. This stump is where the treasure hunt beings. When you walk around to the back of the stump, you see the rabbit coming down the hole, and Alice falling. Walk around this stump some more and look closer, you will see things hiding in the bark, small doors, some open and some closed. This search continues to the tea party table and even in each of the characters. There are 150 elements in honor of the 150th anniversary. It is hard to believe that this story is that old. The world celebrated this on July 4th, 2015. I am pleased to be presenting at the North American Lewis Carroll Society gathering on April 18th. (Shown, digital sketch of the pedestal with a few hidden objects.)
Can you share some of the hidden items with us?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-Well... Here is one about the White Queen, though if you also read the other book that I am writing on the creating of the project, you may be able to decipher each of the elements a bit more. The second book in this project is Finding Alice- A Field Guide. This book gives clues to the 150 different elements found in the scene. It is written in the Carrollian style using such things as poetry, rhyme, and riddle. In light of that, let me give you your first clues in the book Finding Alice- A Field Guide.
Searching for Lily before the game
A mother to two-they are the same.
Here she reclines-facing east
Believing this many 'fore morning feast.
This riddle holds four of the 150 elements in the field guide. The book contains a place for an individual to fill in the blanks. I'll give you these answers. You will have to find the other 146 answers on your own.
1. Who is this character?
The White Queen
2. What is pertinent to the creation of this hidden object?- See Finding Alice- Process book.
She is the White Queen but is also in the image of the artist's mother.
3. Where is this physical piece located?
I guess I can't answer this for you as I have not placed her, and how on earth I will get her to face east is going to be a challenge.
4. What is the literary reference?
(Hint—it is a number. Include the sentence written by Carroll.)
Six "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Chapter 5)
( Shown, working image of the White Queen as my mom and original Tenniel illustration.)
What inspires you about this project?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon- I'm a commissioned artist and usually work on portraits of children or individuals. I am also known for my sculpture of school mascots such as the Prairie View Panther and the Grambling Tiger. This project allows me more creative freedom. It is a place for children to visit, imagine, and explore. As a grandmother, I appreciate that and try to encourage that in my grandchild. I'm also excited that this project has an interdisciplinary educational element to it. It focuses on literature, math, history, art, and technology. After we install the bronze, I will complete the process book on Finding Alice as well as the Field Guide. I then hope to create some curriculum and learning possibilities for groups that visit the sculpture. In February 2015, I presented just that type of experience to a group of girls in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for Young Women in Math and Science. It was fun creating this interdisciplinary learning.
I also have a lot of personal elements in this sculpture. Most I will share in the book. This inspires me and feeds my creativity. The project is extremely personal.
Where will the sculpture be placed?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I'm saving that announcement for my visit to the 150th celebration of the North American Society of Lewis Carroll . I'll be speaking there on April 18th.
When will it be placed?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I hope to install the project in the later part of 2016
Who is backing this project?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I will also include this information in the official announcement at the 150th celebration.
How long will it take you to sculpt?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I will have a team of interns that will help me to create the sculpture in my Houston, Texas studio. I have been working on the designs for a while. It will take quite a bit of time at Shidoni Foundry in New Mexico before we ship the sculpture to its final resting place. I expect the monumental clay sculpture will be ready for viewing by the anniversary date of July 4th, however, not quite compete. The sculpture will then be prepared for the foundry. I expect to install the sculpture in the last part of 2016.
You say you work both as a traditional sculptor and a digital sculptor, how does that work? What is the process?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I work traditionally using clay similar to the old masters, but I also sculpt digitally in the computer. Sometimes I go back and forth. For example, You can see in the images of the March Hare, the first was a quick digital sketch to indicate placement in the scene, I then went to a traditional maquette or small figure. From there, I 3D scanned this sculpture and did more work on it in the computer. I send the 3D file to a vendor who will enlarge the sculpture to the monumental eight-foot height in foam and send it back to my studio. My interns and I will carve on the foam, add a layer of clay and even more detail, and embed and hide some hidden items. I will create some of these hidden items on the computer, and then 3D print them using a 3D printer. Once we have them in physical form by 3D printing them, I will embed them into the clay sculpture. I'll soon have images and video of these 3D prints being created, it is quite fascinating.
Once I complete the sculpting of the bronze and the client approves it, I will prepare it to go to the foundry. However, I'm entertaining the idea of having a 3D scanning company come in and scan the entire scene before it goes to the foundry. You see, I have the rights to create table top versions of this sculpture. 3D scanning will be a wonderful way to document the work as well as documenting it to 3D print out at the appropriate size for the smaller bronze pieces. 3D scanning of art for documentation and preservation is a rather new endeavor by artists. I mention it in my previous book and do hope that I can have this sculpture 3D scanned.
Once it is documented and 3D scanned, I will cut it up into multiple pieces for molds. I then send the molds to Shidoni Foundry in New Mexico. I'll also be spending some time in New Mexico watching over this process. Once it is complete, all I have left to do is the delivery and installation. Of course, there will be an official unveiling as well. ( Shown the rabbit sketch, the clay maquette and the digital model after the 3D scan)
You mention that the sculpture design has changed; how has it changed?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-Oh, my... it has changed a lot. The most significant change is the size of the characters. Initially, in the scene with the visitors, shown below, the characters are life-size. My client wanted them larger. Most changes came from the original design, which I would refer to as a "quick digital sketch." Now, I'm making them my own, as seen above with the March Hare. I also listen to suggestions from others. My client wanted children to be able to climb in the chair and sit with Alice. I made this modification to the design. Some changes happen when I begin to have the characters interact. The sculpture is intended to be complete once visitors are there. Each character interacts with the guest that will be at the party. The most recent change is flipping Alice to the other side of the table, (not shown). I'm sure there will be even more changes once we have the table set and get further on the monumental characters in the studio.
Does the sculpture have a title?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon- Yes, Thank you for asking. I call the sculpture- Move One Place On. It is what the Mad Hatter says in the middle of the tea party. I want it to become a custom that when visitors visit the sculpture someone cries, "Move One Place On", and all of the guests will switch spots. I will hide the title of the sculpture in the embroidery in the table runner.
What do the book projects entail, and when do you expect them to be complete?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I have of course, been writing the books as I have been working on the project. Once the molds for the monumental sculpture are to the foundry, I will turn my full attention to the books. That will give me about six months to work on them. I will also be on a book tour for my last book 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting, and Milling. Because Finding Alice- A Journey of Creating a Monumental Bronze is a process book, the book can not be complete and sent to the publisher until I install the sculpture. I want to include the delivery, installation, and unveiling in this book. This book documents the entire project from start to finish. It is very similar to my last book but instead of featuring many different artists and art, it will focus on just this sculpture. Finding Alice- A Field Guide, is the second book and is for the treasure hunt. I will most certainly be working on this as I am sculpting. I will have to be sure I have 150 elements hidden. I am very excited about this book. I love writing poetry and rhyme and have not had the opportunity to do so in a long time. This sculpture and the writing will be fun. It usually takes publishers close to a year to publish a book once it is complete, so I am afraid we won't see these two books until 2017
Who is the publisher of these two books?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-The publisher of my first two books is Focal Press. I do not presently have a publisher for these books, but will be sure to announce it on this press page as soon as I secure a publisher.
How big is the sculpture?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-The table is an average ten by four foot table. The table settings are life size. Alice, her chair, the March Hare, Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter and his chair are all much larger. They will be approximately eight feet tall.
Will there be other sculptures?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I will be creating ten smaller versions of the mad hatter tea party. These measure around twelve inches tall. One is for my client and the others I will sell. I also hope to change the figures and offer additional Lewis Carroll art in other mediums. First things first. I have a great deal of work ahead of me with sculpting a monumental bronze and writing two books.
Do you lecture on this subject?
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon-I love sharing my process. When I speak I hope I am encouraging other artists. I also love sharing the technology. Yes, if my time allows, I would love to speak on this project. I will be in several locations in the United States this year talking about the book 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting, and Milling. I sometimes like to combine speaking engagements, it saves money for those who are inviting me. If someone is interested in having me present, they just need to contact my studio.
Can people keep up with the project?
Yes, I love to document what I am doing, and hearing what others think or suggest adds to the collaboration of the piece. I'm often posting questions like, "What are in the claws that catch?" Friends give me some excellent ideas for these hidden objects. I do this on my blog and on the Finding Alice Facebook Page.
SCULPTOR: Bridgette Mongeon lives in Houston Tx. Her studio is near the Heights.
TITLE: MOVE ONE PLACE ON Move One Place On is what the Hatter says in chapter seven. The artist encourages visitors, when the table is full with guests, to stand up and shout “I want a clean cup, Move One Place On,” and everyone will change places. It’s a good way to get into Alice’s seat.
HIDDEN OBJECTS: There are 150 hidden objects in the scene. Be sure to look behind the book pedestal and under the table. There are 60 things under the dining table alone. The 150 are hidden in honor of the 150th anniversary of the story of Alice In Wonderland. There is no master list of the 150. This is on purpose. The artist wants you to “be curious”, and read the stories by Lewis Carroll. She hopes to promote literacy and encourage exploration. What can you find? She will begin to reveal the 150 hidden things in rhyme and riddle from her social network. Bridgette Mongeon on Instagram, Sculptorwriter on Twitter. You can find all social media links at www.alicesculpture.com The artists is now making collectibles of some of the hidden 150. These are for sale.
DETECTIVE BOOKS: Families can download a free printable detective book so they can follow along with the artist and record their findings. For each item, you must know: 1. What is it? 2. Where is it in the sculpture? 3. Where is it in the story? 4. What significance is it to the author, original illustrator or the sculptor?
WEIGHT: The sculpture weighs approximately 6,000 lbs.
MATERIAL: The sculpture is bronze, made in the lost wax method of bronze casting. Bridgette’s book 3D Technology In Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting, and Milling describes this process, and is available on Amazon as well as at this event.
HOW WAS IT CREATED? The artist based the work off of the original Lewis Carroll stories and John Tenniel illustrations. She uses both traditional sculpting and digital technology. She demonstrates some of the process in her book. Alice and her friends got big and small not with elixirs and mushrooms, but in Bridgette’s studio they did this with digital technology. Video and process writings can be found at alicesculpture.com and FindingAliceSculpture on Facebook. The artists will add educational material focusing on literature and (STEAM) Science, Technology Engineering Art and Math, for parents, schools an libraries.
DID YOU KNOW? It does not matter where you sit at the table, a character will interact with you. This was done on purpose. The scene is not complete until the table is full.
IS THIS A ONE OF A KIND? Yes, it is a one of a kind, permanent installation, however the artists will be making a table top bronze versions. These will be available for purchase. Inquire at www.alicesculpture.com
WHO COMMISSIONED THIS? The Rubenstein purchased this land that was once Teas Nursery and gave it to the city of Bellaire. They reserved a portion of it for a memorial garden to honor their mother, Evelyn. Alice and her friends are placed in Evelyn’s Memorial Garden.
WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA? The artist began to create several design ideas when she heard a sculpture might be needed for the park. The client originally wanted Evelyn in the park. Bridgette was already working on a sculpture of Evelyn for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. The landscape designers suggested the Rubensteins see the Alice In Wonderland sculpture in Central Park and they brought pictures back to show Bridgette. When she discovered the Alice In Wonderland was in the public domain, she put together sketches and presented them to the family.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE? ´ It took nearly six years to complete, but the first three years Bridgette worked while she waited for the client to commit. ´ The contract with the park was signed in 2015 just a week after the 150 anniversary of the story of Alice in Wonderland. ´ Bridgette completed the sculpture in stages and sent it to the foundry for casting in bronze. The last of the molds left her studio in November 2016. What you see in the park, the artist and her interns sculpted feverishly for a year and a half to create. ´ The sculpture was originally being cast at Shidoni Foundry in NM but was moved in April 2017 to Deep in The Heart Art Foundry (DITH) in Bastrop, TX. ´ DITH delivered the sculpture on a flatbed truck uncovered. It came down I-10 during rush hour traffic, April 9th, 2018.
DID THE ARTIST HAVE HELP? Bridgette uses interns in her studio all of the time. They work in various capacities, and most are paid. There were many people who had a hand in helping with this project from artists, models for reference, armature builders, 3D scanners, photographers, mold makers, and more. Some stayed for the entire project, some only came for a day. The www.alicesculpture web site will have information on some who participated. Assistant-Caroline May, Lead Intern-Allison Gonzalez. Others- Riane Belgau, Austin Bernard, Becky Burkett, Paóla Isabel Chavez, Mark Eberly, Kate Furgason, Ainsley Furgason, Johannes Huber, Jeremy Jap, Gabby Martinez, David Morris, Vicki Parker, Johnny Rojas, George Russell, Shirley Scarpetta, Jacob Simms, Bill, Christina and Issa Sizemore, Kaijah Ward, Catrina Williams. Thank you all.
ANOTHER WONDERLAND CHARACTER? Some neighbors have expressed an interest in having one more sculpture placed on the Bellaire median or a neighboring yard. The sculpture would be of a large White Rabbit with his watch, running down Bellaire. You can imagine him shouting, “I’M LATE,” as he points in this directions and runs to this marvelous tea party. Anyone know someone interested in backing such a project?
COMPANIES TO THANK: Thanks to the Interactive Copier for 3D printing buttons and Bridgette’s mom’s antique teacups for the table. Thank you to Party Boy for providing costumes for the Mad hatter to use as a reference, Nicholas Bocci and Smart Geometrics for 3D scanning, and Dunagroup for donating foam for the table and pedestal. Synappsys Digital Services and Across the Board created the computer numerically controlled milling of the figures. Carvewright created the CNC of the Mad Hatter’s chair.