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Cutthroat

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.

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Wax production area is go!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The patina is holding up nicely. A winter without snow has meant no road salt.

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What was once a side street and parking is now a tidy plaza- with fish.

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A trout drifts in an eddy of the plaza.

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This single swimmer is headed to the corner intersection, where he is in line to meet up with the big triple group.

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The single swimmer’s dorsal fin is just above the triple group. The fish were placed for these kind of alignments, bringing harmonized movement to the plaza.

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Moving through the crosswalk gives pedestrians a nice view of the big group.

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Just the right height for cars waiting at the light.

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The fish are swimming up behind the pedestrian, and a few blocks farther up the school of fish from 2009 are in the intersection.

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In the foreground is a beautiful compass in green, blue, and bronze inlay. It was carefully removed and refurbished. The colors and bronze elements tie in the trout at the ends of the plaza. Anchoring the entire plaza is a partial view of the base of Millard Filmore Malin’s The Founders of Pioneer Industry (1930-34). Added to Malin’s work is a fountain/waterwork. Wow!

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Another single at the opposite end of the plaza contemplates his route through the granite shoals.

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As pedestrian traffic slows for the mid-block crosswalk, they can meet a fish.

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He swims singly, but forms a loose group with the pair swimming alongside the street.

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The mottled patina alludes to the dapple of sunlight through water in a clear river.

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The view of from the crosswalk on the other side of the street. This also gives a full view of the great art-deco lighting on the plaza.

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The old Granite Furniture sign is refurbished and spinning above the fish.

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The paired unit align with another pair, still within the ever-shrinking construction enclosure.

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fish in a net, but not for long…