TO SEE A SHORT VIDEO OF THE WAX CARVING IN PROCESS PLEASE CLICK LINK BELOW:
This group of related photos and videos are of a current work in progress. It is one of the most technically complex pieces I have created. It's my first large scale sculpture, and is commissioned by long time collectors of my work. It is their 50th wedding anniversary this year, and they wanted a plaque to install in the walkway of their custom built home to commemorate their long life together.
This project calls for an 18" diameter design to be cast in bronze. The creation of objects of this size requires a specialized set of skills, and I was able to find a small artisan foundry, called Two Ravens Studio, to help me complete the project.
The technical development of the design was based on direct consultation with the foundry. The establishment of a good working relationship with them was one of the first things I did for the project.
This is my first foray into the production of a piece on this scale and will be my first sculptural bronze to be installed outdoors. The opening in the hand-patterned walkway where the plaque will go is already prepared. The final bronze needs to fit exactly in the circular well in the concrete. Therefore the design layout is accurate to one thousandths of an inch, which provides a blueprint for its construction.
The technical layout also communicated the particulars of design to the foundry so they could furnish me with an accurate bid. At the time, it was still in drawing form only, and none of the components had been built. This made a precise drawing all the more important.
The clients live on the Palouse, and the regional landscape is very important to them. They are keen observers of nature, and delight in the animal families that live on the land around their home. They are especially drawn to birds, since they often produce a number of chicks whose development can be enjoyed throughout the seasons. For this reason, pairs of birds are one of the main design themes.
As the drawings developed, and it became clear how much the clients loved the image we were working on, I suggested a watercolor painting to bring the design inside their home. It is a full scale painting using watercolors, gouache, and metallic paints on heavy paper.
The frame was hand built by the local artist Gay Waldman, and the finished painting was hung inside the client's home in time for the 50th anniversary celebration. The colors glow, and the metallic paint creates the illusion of three dimensionality that will be evident in the final carving.
In the composite image of this project, there are photos of the full size components of the wax and wood structure of the Compass Plaque original master model. The actual wax carving is still in process, and I am documenting the progression with still photos and video throughout the various steps.
The lower left photo in the composite image shows the bottom portion of the Compass Plaque frame before it was glued to the top portion. It highlights the cut out sections recommended by the foundry to reduce the overall weight of the final cast piece, which will not be seen in the final installation.
The photo above the painting in the composite shows the top portion of the Compass frame, with the wax inserts about two thirds of the way through the carving process. You can see the wood edge, where the birth dates of the twelve immediate family members are carved into the surface.
This portion of the frame was built with assistance from another local artist, John Wojtulewicz. He is an eclectic creator who uses various disciplines to make art. He introduced me to CNC machining, and assisted me with the technical aspects of making a perfectly circular rim with precise numbers cut into its edge.
The wax portions of the master model are all cut and fit into the frame by hand. There is nothing but my keen eye and steady hand to precisely fit the wax pieces into the woodwork. The naturalistic carving is also done completely by hand, with each pair of birds being detailed to represent their species. The landscape is also highly detailed, and features a trademark in the landscaping of their home, a fully restored antique caboose.
The arms of the Compass Plaque, which are aligned so that they will correspond to the actual cardinal directions when installed, have a further layer of meaning and technical difficulty since each of the four main directions have a series of numbers cut into them. The North and West arms have the latitude and longitude location of the client's home carved into the surface, and the East and South arms of the Compass have the original date of their wedding, and the date of their 50th anniversary, respectively.
The lat/long designations and the phases of the moon, which are laid out so that the exact quarter of the moon on their anniversary is in the space closest to the arm where the date is inscribed, are another subtle reference to my use of science in art.
The final finish date for the Anniversary Compass Plaque is mid-April of 2019.
This link take you to website for the artist Gay Waldman, whose framing of my watercolor is only the smallest part of what she does as a professional artist. Here work is incredible in its own right.
This next link takes you to the Two Ravens Studio website. It shows the process used to make a bronze casting.