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sculpture

The trout are all finished out. When last we saw them, they were undergoing reconstructive surgery from their car attack. Since then I set a new cold patina to etch and seal the naked bronze, then went about color matching. They are all dolled up with patina renewed, and the entire form cleaned and waxed. When their sister pair is released from police evidence, I’ll finish out that set, then add new stainless steel mounting poles to both sets.

The fishies are ready for inspection: welded, chased, color matched.
Feeling swimmingly.
Reconstructive surgery was successful!
A view of the opposite side.
This was the side with the long dent that I pounded out from the inside.
There are two tiny perfect triangles stamped low in his brow, cool scars he wanted to keep, cuz he’s a tough guy who’s lived a rough and tumble life; fought a car and won.
This hoop belongs to the pair still in police holding. The near side had been bent toward us, ripping the metal open on the inside. I bent it back into place with a come-along, then welded, chased, and color matched it.
Feelin’ streamy. The bronze spot (with grasses covering it from above) is where the fish mounts via weld.
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Triple digit heat finally let off today, allowing triple trout triage. The double trout set is still held as evidence in the City’s court proceedings with the driver that smashed into them, but I thought I’d get started on the big triple group. The car had slid up and over the front fish of the group, gouging in many deep lines along both sides of the fish and worse, pushing a big running dent.

The long running dent
Backfilling the dent with weld is one solution, another is drilling a hole at the bottom and on the opposite side; for pounding it back in shape from the inside.
Hammer Hits: Pounding rod / 20 hits, then hit hand. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Slooowly the metal reshapes.
Looks about like the other side- nearly new!
Scrapes and dent removed, down to shiny fish skin.
Big scratches on the opposite side are blended out as well. Plus, the hammerin’ hole is backfilled and smoothed over.
The hammerin’ hole on the chest is welded closed and chased out as well.
A snapped weld joining the fish to the stream hoop gets fixed. The fish is amazed!
I clear the bronze and put on a chemical base layer. This etches the bronze and seals it.
Now I’ll have to match the patina, then clean and wax the group.
They will wait to get their new stainless steel poles until the City gives me the other group, and I’ll add poles to both groups at the same time.
I got this WTF text from my buddy Jed yesterday evening. This iteration of Bonneville Cutthroat were installed way back in 2009 at a busy intersection. The lead pair were knocked clean off, taking a hoop with them. The rear three are all intact, with the rear pole snapped off at the weld-line. The free-swimming pair were netted by a good citizen and are likely in police custody as evidence (thats where my Quail resided while charges were brought against his vandal kidnapper, years ago).
The sawzall did quick work, though I only had a few old blades and went through them both, and went through my freshly charged battery and onto the spare. Not enough charge or blade left to take the single hoop as well, but it isn’t much of a temptation for metal thieves, and I’ll come back for it.
Safely back in the shop by dusk.
This is a sheared weld that connected the sculpture to the stainless steel pipe.

The busy intersection the fish reside at has a street fully closed for construction, and so the turn lane adjacent to the sculpture is blocked off. E and I headed up to have a look, parking in the closed turn lane. One of two poles held the group of fish, the other having sheared at the weld line, and of the missing pair one pole still held a battered/torn hoop. Two cuts and it could all be gone. E worked her way along the City phone tree ’til we connected with the new director of the city’s arts council. She told me the accident happened Monday-ish, the missing fish were recovered by a witness to the accident. She has been waiting to call me, as there are many plates in the air on how to handle this one. I was concerned it would be easy pickings for metal thieves, and she gave me the green light to remove it. My pal Jed said he would help, as did my neighbor- who also offered up his work van, as it has a much lower gate than the truck and those fish are heavy. E watched his two kids and brought Nora over to his house (our week of storms was beginning and Nora has her issues with weather).

We parked the big van in the closed turn lane as Jed arrived. The group of three fish was my primary concern, and one pole needed to be cut away. I’d put a battery on the charger as soon as E & I had returned from our recon mission, by the time I had permission and a crew together it had charged and I snapped it onto the sawzall while popping on a used blade and bringing my spare (also used) and my second battery. And the most important tool that I can’t ever stress enough: Cestus Vibrex gloves (if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to type this). The first blade made it about half way before glowing red as its teeth smoothed off. The second blade nearly made it through before the battery was spent (a new blade would have taken off both posts on the one battery in half the time…). Not enough blade or battery to take off the remaining hoop, but it isn’t much of a temptation to thieves, and I’ll recover it soon enough.

It’s always surprising how heavy big heavy things are. We muscled the group of three fish and hoops into the back of the van, drove the few blocks home, and unloaded it into the shop. The guys went home and I called the arts director to let her know how we had faired. Just then there was knock at the door, and it was my neighbor and his young daughter with two police officers. The police had been flooded with calls from people waiting at the light as we pulled the piece, and a citizen had subtly followed us back home and given the police all the deets. This really cheered me up. I’ve had my work trashed 4 times now including my best and favorite work, Orpheus and Eurydice, stolen by metal thieves and shredded for scrap. This is the only time a sculpture has been damaged by accident. I handed the phone over to an officer and he spoke with the director briefly, and everything checked out.

I’ll recover the remaining hoop on my own today, and hold them all for the City while the process of how to proceed shakes itself out. (I used a new-to-me type of sawzall blade, $10 for a single blade; it took about 10 seconds to light-saber through the 2 inch stainless steel sch40 pole. Faster than a cutoff wheel.)

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Ascension of the Furies.

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I cast these in aluminum as an aspect of my MFA thesis. They were The Furies then, but now they can go by Handmaids if they like. With the tree falling in the yard, I finally had a reason to break them out of deep storage.

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The remnants of hurricane Rosa will arrive this afternoon, but the morning was perfect for fitting the tree top into the footing, then mounting the figures.

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This is about 10 feet tall.

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The Great Horned Owl and Bald Eagle oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony.

All the stakeholders for the new nature center spoke eloquently with themes on the importance of establishing a relationship with the natural world through experience and education, and the optimism of an inspired pubic that acts as stewards and guardians through conservation. (click the website of the Eccles Nature Center)

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The eagle performs an air show to mark the occasion.

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Elizabeth dresses up the reflection.

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He walked right over to see me.

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Even though the eagle has his hood on, the Ibis is still wary.

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Once she made friends with the Ibis, an idea of a possible future sparked (see next image).

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Here she is again in the future, with one of her avian friends ( a young Western Screech Owl)

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Great Horned Owl.  Lots of wonderful critters from the Hogle Zoo and Hawkwatch, and plenty more flying around in the wild world of marshlands at the Nature Center.

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The new clay oven, powered by a small resurrected ceramic space heater/blower donated by E’s cold feet at the office.

I built a new oven for plastecine clay. I have hundreds of pounds of medium red (mixed with some hard red) that needs to be warm to be pliable, then cools and firms up. Warming it up with hand friction was how I worked the clay for years, then a friend in engineering gave me a unit he had thrown together to melt hard clay that I used ever since to warm my medium clay (shown at the end of the post). I often forgo using the old problematic heater, and my hands can’t take the abuse of creating friction to warm the clay, so I needed to get creative with a custom design. This oven is a great improvement over my old unit, as it will evenly heat the clay and hold it at a workable temperature, and with a 24 x 24 inch shelf I can load in a lot of clay.

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The drawer gets loaded up with clay and slid closed, the heater sits below out of the way of the drawer. The drawer has an underside gap on each end, so the blower will circulate the air back out the front and not overheat. 

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The steel drawer slides on the narrow wooden rails, and rests on the side rails. The clay will be heavy, so the rails extend out beyond the box and over the footing for the heater. The rest of the wooden structure is inside the box, with feet and rails outside the bottom of the box.

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The foam wall is held in place by a welded steel frame. I have since skinned the expanded steel in a finer mesh of aluminum, and added a a foam bumper to the rear to keep clay from rolling off the back when pulling the drawer out.

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The new and old clay oven. The old oven was thrown together by an engineering student at the U to melt hard clay for building an aerodynamic bicycle shell- he gave me his clay and the box back in 2000. I added the wood frame around it and a “window” to see if the heat lamp was on or off. 

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This has warmed up hundreds and hundreds of lbs of clay, and helped warm students’ clay for my figure sculpture classes up at the U. 

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The heat lamp ensures that the clay is either cold or molten, sometimes both; the top of the clay goes to an untouchable blistering sweat while the bottom of the same piece is still hard and cold. This meant a lot of babysitting the clay, and occasional fully liquified trays of clay.