Half of the fish and 2/3 of the hoops.

The trout suffered a version of whirling disease while at the foundry and only half of them and two hoops could be salvaged. My meticulously formed wax trout made it through wax sprew, ceramic shell, burnout, but bronze pour blew out the sides of the ceramic shell (one of the rare places where Total Fail can occur). My last run of 10 trout and 7 hoops had no issues, this time around saw 50% mortality.

So last Friday I drove out to the foundry and we sorted through the parts that survived and grouped them out into parts that match and parts that almost match. We came up with three workable trout, and two spare heads and a tail fin. I brought the mold along and the foundry will create the wax bodies to match the heads, as well as making one entire trout. This is not the normal easy process of making identical forms by slurrying wax into a mold. The trout are all different and have to be done half by half all by hand, painting in layer by layer, with the mold slung over the curving/recurving platform, then the halves are joined. The process is posted three blogs back, or just tap the Cutthroat link on the sidebar.


Only one fish is made of matching parts.


A disappointing catch.


The stainless steel pole has been in studio for a week, awaiting the fish.


Wild-farmed vs Ocean-Farmed; I’ll use my CRISPR to combine them into one genome.


A fish and his stream, still in stream of consciousness.


Chasing bronze causes nerve damage that can lead to amputation. I have waited for my Cestus Tremblex gloves to arrive before I really jump into the metal work.

OSHA has noted that vibrating tools cause irreparable nerve damage, and glove mnfctr has not really moved beyond impact protection: except for Cestus gloves. My hands go dead (can’t even ride my bicycle as my hands catch fire then go dead from road vibration) and I am on my way “white finger”. Limiting my time on-tool and these gloves should go a long way to keeping my hands alive. Handses: the key tool.


My one fish of matching parts has all pinholes filled and windows welded back in place.


Streams with windows and pinholes welded out. I’ll chase them all out before I join the halves.


Pins are all pulled, windows refitted to their holes, and edges are ground clean and bevelled. The tail is from a failed casting.

It snowed last night, and has been spitting snow all morning. This makes for a cold shop and my motivation level reached “blogging update”. Plus, chasing is the worst…


These two remaining fish are Frankenstein Fish; I’ll be grafting remains of casting survivors.


This tail goes with a head missing its midsection; this section lost the tail- so I’ll graft it.

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 sculptures are all in place, and the Sugar House Monument Plaza will finish with most major construction around Xmas and into the New Year. The fences will all come down and the Plaza will be open to the public soon, then there will be a grand opening in the Spring. I am happy to have my work included at such a great spot. It is really going to be a beautiful pedestrian plaza.

These 10 new trout correlate to my original 2005 Bonneville Reliquary group of five trout and two medallions located a block to the West, and two blocks to the East of the Plaza the Bonneville Upstream grouping of five trout from 2008 in the median of the intersection; a grand total of 20 trout. To see the blog history of my process creating the latest group look to the sidebar under Categories and find Cutthroat. Also in Categories under Bonneville is a short bit on the process for Bonneville Upstream.


Final trout is installed and oversees the prep work for his neighboring tree.

Triple Trout with plants.

Trout in the bioswale are happy to have the plants put in around them.

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Installation last Friday was timed just right, as we didn’t have to worry about stomping on plants or topsoil down the sonotubes.

triple and monument

The trout triple in front of Millard Filmore Malin’s The Founders of Pioneer Industry (1930-34).


This end of the Plaza is nearly completed, on the far end you can see a concrete truck busily pouring.

Trout with Plants

This fellow is guarding the greenhouse. His spot is holding all the plants (still in their pots) to go all along this side of the Plaza.

Trout in Transport

The xmas elves have twinkled their noses and the sculptures are all aboard the sleigh for early holiday delivery.


The sleigh arrives at the construction staging yard. Here the trout are lifted off the sleigh and secured to pallets for bobcat runs to the installation site.

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Everything is on site and ready for placement. We put the biggest group in first, in case we tucker out.



Got to keep them from swimming off while the concrete goes down the hole.

Trout Pair installed

The trout are happy to be out of the studio and anchored securely in place.


This single swimmer is anchored in position.


A fish gets there.

This single swimmer is at the far west end of the plaza. There is still one more single swimmer to go in once the plaza is a bit more finished out as there is currently no there there for a fish to go there.

8am on Friday, December 12 began the trout installation. It is a perfect day starting at a balmy 40 degrees with the temps in the mid 60’s by afternoon. First thing is heading over to Sugar House to the construction site to pick up the big trailer they are letting me borrow, then back to the studio and my volunteers show up and we muscle-up and carry all the sculptures out of storage in the shop where they have languished since the first week of June, and strap them down to the trailer.  It is a quick trip back over to the staging yard at the old Sugar House Deseret Industry where stage them for transport to the installation/construction site of the Plaza which is about a block away. We unload the sculptures onto pallets and strap them down securely. From there a construction worker picks the works up with a bobcat and trundles them over to the site, as well as a full palette of concrete that I’d had delivered to the yard last week. Then we muscle-up again and lift the sculptures into their sonotube holes (I have placed the sonotubes over the course of months as the pace of Plaza construction allows, four of them going in just the day before) along with their welded rebar cages, and pour concrete and water into the hole- then build braces with 2x4s to keep the fish steady as the concrete sets. We put in the big group of three and both pairs, and two single swimmers, but the site is still under construction and the place for the last single swimmer doesn’t exist yet. Maybe I can get him in before Xmas?


Modular repetition, 3/D Form in relation to 2/D Shape, minimal structure, decontextualized, bare media; rebar reinforcement for concrete footings for the Trout. When doing structural work like this back in academia professors would lead their students by and talk about how my work had shifted strongly to conceptual concerns.


Bend twenty seven 36″ runs of rebar into 9.5″ circles, then weld the ends of the circles together. Add three runs of 36″ rebar with the circles welded at 0 / 12 / 24 inches (like a bar stool). It was such a warm & humid afternoon that the welder kept cycling to cool down.


This thankless little chore will all go in the ground, sleeved around the stainless steel poles upholding the trout, and immersed in concrete. Earlier in the summer I made the steel gate for the ranch rather than these, and now that I’m back I just wanted it off my plate.


Trout Fin. Finito. Now I just keep them fed and happy till the fall when the site should be ready. The install date was pushed from July 1 to “September or ?…”. So the shop will be crowded for some time.


The big group of three was this week’s project. They were too tall to fit out the garage standing upright, so I wound up with a somewhat sideways solution. Figuring that out, then sandblasting. During sandblast I found a thin spot on the underside and had to spend quite awhile welding that section and refinishing it. Then sandblast the area, roll the group out to the driveway and spray them for chemical etching. This turns everything black. I’d hoped to get the etching scrubbed back, but the welding, and the table solution had eaten the day.


I had to mix two gallons of Cupric solution for the big triple, as the underside was tough to bring under control. The patina had trouble building up and biting in on the bottom side, and heat built up really quickly. It was tricky. I went through my entire supply of Cupric and had to drive way out to the Chem shop for more.


The colors all match, and match with the previous pair. That took some doing. It was a long hot day of torchwork, and they rested in the shop for Wednesday.


The center hoop floats without a pole. Keen.


Transitional planes of belly and back have different heat/patina responses. Patina is a mad science. On Wed I did touch-up work, then sprayed the piece with soluvar. The next day I cold-waxed, and then again the following day and buffed it all out.


Clamps, metal bars, and counter weights is how we roll. Nearly too wide to fit in the shop, but low enough to fit through the door, and sturdy enough to allow me to climb onto a board I’d clamped to the top for patina application.


The grasses and stones were all stippled with Ferric bringing complex browns, greens, and coppers.


These guys were brought out of the studio and clamped to the table for pole grinding/cleaning and another wax and polish.


Each fish has a unique coloration with subtle transparent layers of purples, greens, blues, browns, and copper.


The work table doubles as an aquarium.


I like this patina more than any other. The variation and transparent layering is some of the magic of patination. This is accomplished with a brush and spay bottle and twice the effort of the more consistent opaque blue/green of the airbrush for the other groups.


This is the opposite aesthetic of the spray gun. This is creating layered dappling that occurs in a weird time-frame that happens both before and after you work, and not while you are directly there. Zen letting go is part of the spell you have to put yourself under to make it work. That vs the more auto-body concerns of the evenly air-brushed fish.


I rolled the welder back out and added these old Stainless Steel bolt heads and bolts to the poles of the single fish. When footed in concrete these additions won’t allow the fish to be spun.


Of course the new welding gas canister has a faulty valve and was nearly out of Argon. Just enough to finish up.


While the welder was up and running and had a bit of gas pressure left, I welded up the old kitchen faucet from the ranch- again. Broken this time not from freezing, but from the plumber sawzalling a connecting pipe without removing the faucet first and shearing it in half with vibration. It is an irreplaceable faucet that connects to an irreplaceable vast farmhouse sink.


This weld is right next to a fitting that needs to thread to the faucet, so I left the bead a bit high rather than blending it flush and possible beating up the thread.


Somewhere in there this week I had a birthday. Too old for all the candles to fit on a cake any more. Lemon cake with a cream layer, and raspberry frosting. Elizabeth made Bourbon/Lucky Charms ice cream to accompany it. Amazing!


The Dexter Room was pulled down days ago, with some sheeting saved for dust covers.


No room for new work til I install the kids, many months from now. As yet, the City has not even hired a contractor to begin the plaza.


Say goodbye to the fish for awhile. For me it is like a bad fever breaking at last. Trout Fever: endless body aches with acute bruising and fatigue, loss of muscle tone, loss of aerobic capacity, loss of mental acuity, incessant worry, and turrets-like swearing. Objet d’ Art Syndrome often accompanies Trout Fever, and may occlude manly skills and ability in industrial processes from sufferer and onlookers as these are seamlessly absorbed by Art, which is for sissies. May also experience low level “art-fun” fever.


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This patina took two full days. A day for creating a new solution for holding this set to the table so it can fit out the shop more easily, then sandblast, and chemical etching applied and scrubbed out. Today was color. This method takes a lot of time and chemical mix- I’ll need to buy more Cupric Nitrate for the last group. They still need spots and eyes brought back to bronze, waxed, and the poles polished. The triple school is next. They will also need a new solution to affix to the table as it is a full foot taller. I will weld up a little platform below the level of the table just high enough not to drag on the ground when going over the gap btwn the garage and the driveway. The logistics of working large really slow things down…