Monthly Archives: June 2013


Orphues & Eurydice: Fugue

This was my first public commission.

The curator of modern art at the UMFA (Mary Francey) recommended me to the donor (Marcia Price  and the Price Family Foundation) and the client (Utah Symphony & Opera); they liked the aesthetic of my uniquely cast bronze figurative work so much they gave full creative freedom- partly because all parties involved were deeply grounded in the arts and knew that creative work takes risks and imagination. I sculpted, molded, and cast the work myself over the course of five months. It was a great labor using all of my skills, to bring my unique casting technique up to this scale and gain the unique surfacing of the works. A technique I pioneered and that cannot be replicated in a modern foundry. They were truly unique figures.

I have never had an opportunity since to work in my own aesthetic. It was a rare moment in the arts, and an equally rare moment for my work. Now gone.

Labrador in Wax Labrador in Wax 2

There is a new edition of the Labrador under way. I will be adding a Service Dog vest and a quote (TBD) on the vest. This will be a memorial for Randall Storms Jr., whose father was the headmaster of Wichita Collegiate School (WCS) in Wichita, KS from its inception til the 1980’s. Randall attended WCS and remained active with the school throughout his life, serving as the Alumni Chair among other duties. He was injured in a diving accident while a summer camp counselor and never walked again. He and his wife and his service dog all died in a single auto crash at low speed in Wichita, KS in early 2013. This is WCS’ 50th Anniversary, and his loss is deeply felt by students and alumni. The memorial sculpture will be finished and installed on school grounds for WCS’ 50th Anniversary this October.

I drove the mold over to the foundry yesterday and they poured a wax, which I drove back down and picked up this afternoon. I spent part of the morning prepping the studio for wax work, then spent the afternoon chasing out the seam lines of the mold and layering more wax over thin spots on the inside. The can-light in the first picture is used to illuminate thin areas, as the light will shine through the wax if it is too thin. A bit longer on these steps and the Lab will be ready for me to add the Service Dog vest.


For the bike to fit fully enclosed inside the truck, both wheels have to come off. Monday I configured the front end, and this afternoon I came back to configure the back end. It required a tower that would hold the frame at the same height as the wheel to keep the front chain ring floating (about 1/4″ clearance). The tower needs to be removable, so we can transport the bike in its Monday configuration of rear wheel on / front off and back of truck open.

IMG_0001Here she is, fitting so tight I’ll likely have to drop the handlebars to make sure she doesn’t punch out the rear window. But fitting!

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The instant release bracket is made for a narrow front fork, so I headed out to the nut & bolt supply shop. The pin needed an extender/connector, and it is a metric #9, which doesn’t even exist on the bolt sizing guide, much less in reality- of course. But whatever, I made it work.

IMG_0007 IMG_0008 Note to self: remember to put the wheels inside the truck. Hey, I could make a rack for that!

IMG_0045 IMG_0025 IMG_0032 IMG_0030 IMG_0017 IMG_0010 IMG_0029 IMG_0001 IMG_0002 IMG_0026 IMG_0044 IMG_0043This is a figure study done as a lesson with Eric Michael Wilson via video lessons at New Masters Academy. The challenge of the piece was never being able to see the actual model, and seeing only Eric’s progress from limited angles. I learned a few good practices when working this small, 1/3 scale. I took measurements from my wife for basic proportion and had that as my only reference to the real world / a living model.

AL Capp

I had a used tandem ordered for E & I way back in 2009, then cancer crept up on my father and I cancelled the bike and went to Montana for quite a while- and the idea of a tandem became a few webpages that I would scout once in awhile. Then two weeks ago E got a little urge to check our local classifieds, and there was this great tandem at a really good price. It looked like the frame would fit us both, so I called and we headed across town for a test ride. Neither of us had ridden a tandem before, but we came home with it. It is a better bike than either of our single bikes. (It is a Co-Motion Cappuccino, Aluminum frame, also known as an AL-Capp. It has a carbon front fork to smooth the ride for me, and a Softride carbon beam for E. 27 gears. It rides like a nimble road bike. Amazing…and not a scratch on it.)

It is seven feet long, and my little bike rack that fits to the trailer hitch of the truck barely managed to keep things intact coming back across town; I needed to make a beefy rack for inside the truck shell. I ordered a bracket for the front fork (and two pair of clipless pedals), and it arrived last Friday. I spent the better part of the day out-fitting and welding up and cutting down my first, second, and third ideas- none of which quite worked- by less than an inch one way or another. It needs to slide into the back of the truck, and tuck under the shell then stand back up, as the mouth of the shell is lower than the ceiling. Also, the truck bed is only 6′ long: this means the bike can fit entirely inside the shell only if I work the hypotenuse/diagonal and remove the front and rear wheels. The math tells me it should fit with no problem, but the width of the handlebars tank the equation. I focused on creating a rack that will be short enough to fit the hypotenuse when I deal with the rear-wheel removal later, but for now to fit with the tailgate open and the bike in line with the truck with just the front wheel off. This works for shorter car trips. The weekend came and I gave up on the rack in frustration, and E and I rode the bike about 50 miles- 28 miles on Saturday, and 22 miles on Sunday.

It was rather refreshing to reconnect with childhood wipe-out memories as the strange physical feedback from the bike contrasted against my regular twitchy Aluminum road bike, and convinced me we were going to eat it. I had forgotten how terrifying a bike can be. It started to get fun, then we would nearly die and I would have to pull some weird stunt of balance and prying strength and then pedal on in disbelief that we lived and let the panic die down and my core muscles and torqued shoulders and knees burn (meanwhile the Stoker has no idea and everything is just spin spin spin). E is a good Stoker, with cat-like balance and no side-to-side pedal motion at all- a big part of why I managed to keep us upright through a few steep learning curves. She stays clipped in at stoplights, while I clip out and hold the bike up in an exaggerated A-frame position, ensuring that we don’t topple. When the light changes I squeeze my core for stability, clip in one side, say 1-2-3 go, and E pedals while I steer / pedal / clip back in. Everything you normally do on a bike, just with all illusions of being able to recover from any little mistake stripped away- so way more attention, yet if you pay too much attention you can no longer clip in and out at will, or even change gears smoothly. So the trick is to let go a bit, realize that once all that mass is going in one direction any weird feedback that would usually signal disaster is just part of the tandem ride, and is absorbed into the momentum. Which, if you think about that, is it’s own wrong idea, which brings us back to the forgotten/sublimated terror of cycling.

The two positions are usually referred to as Captain (up front), and Stoker  (in back). The larger person has to be the Captain, as the Captain must control the entire bike- which would be impossible for a small person to compensate for the shifting mass of a larger person.  I readjusted the seat and handlebars and that helped a lot, putting my balance forward and keeping the front end live. Now I can stand in the saddle for a big hill, and absorb E’s shifts easily as she reaches for a water bottle or looks behind us for cars.

AL Capp transport

Today I went back to the drawing board on the rack. I tried one more version of my design from Friday, then shunted it as it still jammed the rear seat into the ceiling (by 1/4″) and came up with an entirely new idea that gives me a full inch of clearance from the ceiling. It easily loads into the truck sideways, then tips upright once both seats are in. The rear wheel touches the front of the bed, and I pull tie-downs from the Captain’s seat post to the bed pins, just as you would to stabilize a motorcycle in transport. The handlebars hold the rear window on their handlebar tape (I’ll get a pool noodle to pad them). So it fits and can travel safely! For the Montana road trip I’ll make a rear bracket that bolts onto the rack, remove the rear tire, and swing it all sideways for a fully enclosed trip.



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A birthday present from Allison & Peter- so when I say “To the bat cave!” the ol’ non-sequitur can have the added bonus of a possible mistranslation sending one out behind the shop. I gave it a primer coat, then painted it black to help keep them warm in the winter. I hung it up high on the quiet side of the yard/shop, where it will have good southern exposure in the winter and partial shade in the summer. It takes one to three years for bats to move in, and it can hold a colony of about 100 bats.

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My neighbor’s new renters are handy and built a big new storage shed after tearing down the old claptrap. All these great concrete pillars were under the old shed, and they were happy to see me unload 50 of them to berm up parts of the expanded yard. First I made a step down from the established yard, then created a long berm toward the mouth of the drainage ditch and shoveled fill dirt from that overfilled area up to other low spots.

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Insect Hotels went highrise today, activating the South West corner and softening out the old brick City gas relay building (now our neighbor’s firewood storage shed), not to mention the leaning power pole. Two pallets and around a dozen boxes made the large structure. 3 metal file drawers were outfitted with “shelves” made from wooden box tops and ammo-box lids, then hung from the fence poles along the old fence line. The little weir for the stream is to the right, nearly overgrown by a sweeping rose bramble mixed with vines that are spreading quickly toward the gas house.

The challenge is now to find good material to “furnish” the hotels so the critters will move in.

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