Bonneville Trout are schooling again! I ramped the studio into wax production and pulled 6 new trout and delivered them to the foundry for rough-casting. They will eventually swim in the new Wilmington Courtyard in Sugarhouse, connecting the street of Wilmington to the Hidden Hollow riparian nature trail. This was greenlit by Salt Lake City, generously allowing City-owned reproduction rights to a private company to fulfill their public art requirement for new construction. It was a great example of public/private coordination to expand public art.


Wax production area is go!


Every bit of wax in the studio goes into the melting pot.

All six fish combined will require at least 40# of wax. Wax costs five times more than when last I ordered, as the manufacturer no longer sells directly (which adds a 50 mile drive just for wax). This set me to gather every broken bit of old sculptures and test-wax forms and in my hunting I discovered twenty-five pounds of wax slab & pouring foundations from creating Orpheus & Eurydice back in 2002. With everything going into the pot I just just just managed to form all 6 fish.


Building up 8 layers of wax with 1″ chip-brush. Delerium monotaneity ensues.

Christmas Elves sent me gift cards for more power tools and one of them turned out to be the best wax cutting tool ever. It trembles at 26,000 vibrations per minute, and it moves through wax like a cold laser- no more molten wax drips burning a path across the sculpture or over my hands and clothes, no more jamming hot sharp steel into myself for hours on end. Just a few minutes of hornets-nest buzzing and both sides are smooth-seamed and ready to join.


Curve and recurve sides are created separately then joined- this allows all fish to individually swim.

The halo of wax around the fish keeps the form tight to the mold so it doesn’t shrink and curl. It is that halo that the new tool removes so well. As the side of the mold that forms the outside curve cannot account for the amount of curve variance, I also have to bisect that fish half and shoe-horn in a custom section to take up the gap. In other words, I cut the head off just ahead of the dorsal fin and surgically insert a graft of new fish. This surgery is much easier with the new tool, and the fish hardly even feels it.


Sides joined, seamed, and set to chill in the shop.

It could be argued that each fish is an original sculpture, rather than an identical version pulled from a common mold. The fish on the floor displays the surgical graft to the midsection, and thumb clamps helping hold the form in place as the hot seams cool.


Orpheus’ severed head absolved to the abyss.

He guarded his secret cache of wax for 15 years, but his cache and himself went the way of his mythic being, and shared the tragic fate of his public art twin.

The fish are schooling in the median of 2100S / 1300 East on the eastern border of Sugar House in Salt Lake City. The prior school of fish swim toward this group three blocks to the West. I resolved issues of manipulating the mold with the foundry, and this group is more dynamic than the first- which is good since they are smack in the middle of traffic and swimming toward the pond in Sugar House park. They are placed at car window height, and the L turn lane gets a nice slow drive past them- the City is already getting positive feedback.




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Foundry day. All the fish cast out clean and were reassembled nicely. Today’s job was to position them to school through the hoops. Each fish needs at least two points of contact, either with the hoop or with another fish. After a few hours of tack-welding, snapping the weld and adjusting, re welding, and fussing about- they came together into two nice groupings. A group of three swimming tightly together through a descending rapid, and a group of two swimming level and further apart. The lead fish is slightly buoyant- as if rising toward the surface, to contrast with the prior commission further down the road where the lead fish is diving toward a “splash” on the ground alluding to river diverted underground.

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