Patron Art


View from the sidewalk on Wilmington.

Installation day started off raining and chilly, just how the fish like it. With two handy fellows helping (Jed, who helped install the last group, and Mike) things got started at 8am and finished by 3pm with time off for lunch at one of the restaurants on the plaza. A solid day of digging and lifting heavy things, but all are in the ground and everyone is happy.


Swimming alongside the concrete current.


Follow their lead to the next fish.


Enter the plaza and these singles stairstep up the planter beds.


Lower single swimmer.


Upper single swimmer.


The pair take a bead on you as you leave the plaza.


The swim around the base of a tall tower.


The fish like their new digs.


Out on the big plaza, bridging the Hidden Hollow trail on Parley’s Creek.


Parley’s Creek is just past the sunny bit of lawn at the top of the image.


They swim just within the boundary of the plaza.


Heading toward the curved public bench.


Linking the curvy landscaping to the riparian trail.


The blue concrete connects the pair to the singles under the tower.


The plaza is so big, the fish become invisible from the far end; good thing there are fish at this end too.


The tarantula wanted black banding, and chose matching green shoes and pack.

This tarantula will go to the Mother Goose playground. This is the second patina, after using the first for practice and experimenting. The black and green is much snappier, and I burned off some micro wire-wheels getting enough metal exposed for the black to react over the green. When I replace the micro-heads I will probably re-work the practice spider to match this one.


I almost polished out the shoes, but then decided it would look silly.




Harness with buckles and polished fangs are all details that will likely never be seen, as the spider will be mounted up on a wall.


little know factoid: Shelob’s offspring were tamed by the Hobbits and trained with climbing saddles as Sam led a group of Hobbits to relocate at the cliffs of Mordor after the fall of Sauron.


Cupric Nitrate and Zinc Nitrate in solution are brushed on.

The storm arrived early and the heat dropped into the 90s, so I headed back out to the tarantulas. With this color session taken care of, next comes highlighting and toning, then a series of sealants.


The sculptures are evenly heated with a big torch, which activates the chemical reaction with the bronze- oxidizing the media.


The liquid boils off as it is applied.


Then the torch lifts off any remaining water, and layers of color begin to build up.


Flipped over to get the opposite side.


The color begins to saturate.


Roasting is not toasting. They will scorch easily, so the flame has to be used and not overused.


The color is saturated as the brush can make it.


I went with the brush over the air brush, because my chemicals are in short supply. Once the spider is saturated, water can be airbrushed on to intensify the color.


The airbrush is water and the left over patina- a 30/1 solution or so.


Heat and water are simultaneous, making for colored fire.


A little under the arm please…


Saturation is evened out.


The mottling of brushwork is toned back, and the color is brought up.




Spider salute.


This is a smiling spider. You’ll have to trust me on that.


Now they need to cool down so I can go back in with steel wool and pull out details.


Tarantulas compare their etching layer. Color is next.

When last we saw the spiders they were just a jumble of separated bodies, metal legs, packs, and “window” cuts. Then my hand and leg were stung by hornets and just for something new, my hand and ankle swelled up like balloons over the course of the next few days, then slowly deflated over a few more days. It took a bit longer before I could chase metal with a pneumatic grinder. The welding went easily, and the chasing as well. Drilling and tapping three feet on each spider led to chasing out a bigger hole on a front foot to insert a nut for welding into the foot to ensure the anchor point- it is these kinds of little tweaks that eat up time. As I moved on to setting up for sandblasting and suited up- the day was jumping out of the 80’s, and by the time the spiders emerged in brushed gold from the tent it was in the mid 90’s. By the time they were coated in their etching chemicals, heated, and rubbed back with steel wool it was 97, and now everything is put up for the day and it is over 100.┬áThe real patina work needs to be done at a thinking temperature, and tomorrow’s high should be 30 degrees cooler as a storm front is moving in.


Sandblasted and ready for etching layer of patina.


Raise a leg if you are ready practice your climbing knots.


Sandblasted clean, the spiders do a happy dance before patina begins.


Tarantulas need safety gear and tight planning before heading up a wall or water spout.


Best to let a buddy double check the harness.


Tarantula tummy rubs…


Tarantula rough-cast in bronze with sprew-bar ends needing ground off and re-surfaced.

The little beastie was through rough-cast yesterday- just when I got on the highway there was the remains of an accident in oncoming traffic on the highway backing up all lanes for more than 6 miles. On the return trip it had cleared up, except for a 6-car accident where traffic hadn’t quite come to a stop at the far reach of the earlier stoppage. They raised the speed limit to 70mph at the beginning of the summer, so accidents are worse, and beget more accidents. The spiders legs weren’t knocked off in an accident, as we made it through with no problems- they were cut off by Samwise Gamgee & Sting back in July when the spider was still in clay. Since then I created the mold, pulled the wax, and dropped it down to the foundry before we headed to MT.


Tarantula parts are all ground out and ready for welding.

Metal chase is as far as we go today, as the day heated up quick this morning- and my hand went a bit numb using the pneumatic tools. Next up is repositioning the legs, tack welding it, checking for gesture / character, then welding it up and chasing out the welds.


The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, and etc.


Mold of tarantula’s body: silicon and plaster.


Outside of a spider, a dog is a man’s best friend. Inside of a spider, turns out, is hollow and you can see just fine.


Legs and backpack molded in silicon and plaster.


The molds are cut apart, but not separated all the way to the bottom. This allows an easier wax pour, and ensures proper registration.


The spider after molding.


The wax bits, cooling down for chasing/fitting. I’ll likely have it cast as these separate parts, then weld it back together when it is in bronze.


Not pictured: Samwise Gamgee, Shelob’s Legs (yes, that is Sting glowing goblin-blue)


The legs and backpack are all molded separately. Next is silicon mold, then jacket mold.

The spider with bigger shoes and backpack was approved by the patron, so on to the industrial processes. Prior to molding, it is often necessary to dismember a sculpture. I pulled all the legs off as well as the backpack. This way the spider body will separate in a simple 2 part mold, as will both sets of legs.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider is geared up for his waterspout ascent.


Basic form of backpack, with climbing rope and helmet. The clay gets warm when handled and needs to cool down, so refined details will come later- and some may wait till I have the form in wax.


Spider without the backpack, and with rock climbing shoes nearly double in size from previously.


Pack on!


Ready to head up the waterspout.


Planning his route…


Silk rope. Of course, he made it himself.


Fangs and a furry tummy sure, but how bout that climbing harness? It wraps four legs, and the center loop will secure the climbing rope.


A view of all four shoes, and his spinnerets- where the rope will emerge and run to the loop on his harness.


The extended right forward leg will manage the rope while the other limbs anchor to the wall or lift for a new hold.


The spider will anchor to the wall by five legs and the base of the abdomen.

IMG_0003 IMG_0008The Itsy Bitsy Spider is geared out and looking for a climbing gym.