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Sunday morning re-installation of Bonneville Upstream.

My friend Jed arrives with his handy trailer. This will make 21 fish he has helped me install.
Jed backed his twisty little trailer all the way inside the shop, all in one smooth line from the street. Impressive! The upright 2×4 is his steering guide.
I levitate the triple group of trout while Jed backs the trailer underneath.
Trout settle down, making ready for the next group.
Safety Comes When Man says, “Attach the hoist before freeing the sculpture.”
My neighbor, Chris, drops in to lend a hand. The three of us removed the trout months ago after their auto/ichthyes incident, and we will also put them back in.
Lashing down frisky fish for a ride through Sugarhouse.
We’ll be moving upstream about a mile, and trout need to move upstream to breath. This should wake them up from their long dormancy in the studio.
The Bean Whole fish transport; fueled by Jed’s craft-roasted coffee.

The rest of the morning was up at the intersection of 2100 S 1300 E, with the long turn lane still closed for street construction. This gave us a nice safe space to park and work from. The City’s public art coordinator, Kat Nix, brought hardhats and safety jackets for the guys, and pitched in with the work. The director of Salt Lake City’s Arts Council, Felicia Baca, also stopped in, joking around at how I used to be her boss back when I ran Global Artways for the City. After Jed and I had dug out the holes and installed the paired group into concrete footings, Chris made a quick trip up to help us lift the triple group into position and slurry in the concrete. Everything went swimmingly, and the trout are happily in the current again.

On-site at the intersection in the closed left turn lane. The spot just in front of the oncoming car is where they will go.
We have loosed the fish from their tie-downs, and they are ready to leap into place.
Kat keeps on eye on them while I get the fish food.
Professional fish wranglers, like Lion Tamers of yesteryear, know the essential function of a bristling manly mustache when confronting The Wild.
The pair-group jumps right into place and gets their treats.
The triple group jumps next, sassing for treats.
Jed and I stand about while the concrete cures.
They are excited to be back out in public again, among the rushing cars.
Once the concrete sets, we spread the soil and ground cover so everything looks tidy.
Another good day of fishing.

Yesterday the pair received stainless poles, today the triple got theirs.

Today I levitated the pole into position with my mind. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
Triple with double poles. Welding took a bit more knowhow today; filling gaps between the sculpture and the pole by building up wide platforms with fat bead on the sculpture, then switching style for a strong connection to the stainless- all with the same too skinny rod, and always in an awkward crouch that makes running the foot pedal tricky.

This morning’s email had a message from the City; the shattered poles have been removed from the sculpture site and re-installation is game-on. Time to get the Trout on their new poles!

The shop becomes a fishbowl again. Time for the fish to sprout legs- stainless steel poles.
The clamps and rulers and sticks are how I establish Level & Vertical when the trout are suspended upright. Here they are suspended on their sides, with the stainless steel pipe aligned to the base of the stream hoops. I thread the pipe through ladders to establish Horizontal & Parallel from the upright measure of Level & Vertical.
Then the poles are welded in place. A bit more than half way around.
I welded the new pole to the original pole, after getting them to seat together. The force of the accident is apparent here, as the the old pipe is crushed up into the steambed form.
Almost flipped over enough to weld the underside of the pipe. The hoist was blocking the rotation, so down it came and the webbing was refit, then it lifted clear.
The pair is finished up and tied off to the float beam and its support leg, making space for the bigger group.
This rowdy bunch.
Rolled onto the side after establishing Vertical & Horizontal.
The force of the accident really pushed the bronze around. This is as close as it could come back, as the positioning of the trout are what hold the group together. The portion of pipe to the left will be cut at an angle to butt up the adjoining pipe in alignment with Horizontal & Parallel. Tomorrow.
The pair is cleaned and waxed.

All welds, road rash & dings, car paint & rubber bumper transfer have been turned back to fish skin and stream stones with grasses.

After adding in new patina at welds and dings, the sculpture is left to warm in the sun. Once toasty, I paint on a layer of clear wax, let it cool, and buff it off. Then warm it in the sun again. This view shows the rear fin’s weld to the hoop, and the front fin’s weld to a stream stone.
Another view of the front fin connected to a stream stone. A tan stone behind the fin is making it a bit visually confusing.
The rear fin from the opposite side. This weld is the only connection to this stream hoop, so it is hefty all the way around.
This fin had been ripped nearly off, and was clapped against the fin on the other side.
The third main anchor weld is the fin connection to the front hoop. A section of the stainless pipe is visible under the rear hoop, it’s weird angle shows the force of the impact. It will be cut away and replaced.
Happy to be clean and waxed, the pair will return to the studio to wait next to their stainless steel poles.

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.

 

This morning the Ibis built its nest site out at the new Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay with a little help from my friend Jed and I.  Elizabeth imagines it must be quite a shock for the little guy after spending the past five and half months puttering around in the studio.

Under his feet I welded in large stainless steel anchor posts that rest on stainless steel angle stock (shown in December post). This stainless steel footing is immersed in a concrete footing.  A concrete filled posthole reinforced with rebar drops below the concrete form box, adding thousands of pounds of strength to the structure ( the post hole digger is in the image at the left). The angled boards brace the sculpture while the concrete cures. I will return on Wednesday and remove the bracing and form-box, affix the turn-wheel, take the protective wrapping off the legs, replace the stones under and around the feet, and give him a final wax & polish.

 

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Fish #3. Fit well and hadn’t suffered a wax room collapse at the foundry.

The difference between the six finished wax trout I dropped off, and what I was handed back is like working forensics from a recognizable corpse; true Frankenfish that I have to reanimate to their original quality. The problem isn’t piecing in random remains to cover the parts lost in casting, but they too may be traced back to The Crime Scene: the foundry wax room. They did 10 trout for me on the last big commission and they were all fine, this time we are 1 of 3 so far, or in actuality, 1 of 6.

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This is the dorsal fin from the Fish #1. See how it connects cleanly to the body with details all the way down. They biffed it a little toward the front, as some of the circles are partial, but did a fair job of touch-up. I went in and put in new circles in the bronze where I touched up their line.

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This is fish #3 where the wax room tried to re-affix the dorsal fin after it softened and rolled to the side, collapsing into the body. They pulled it upright and slathered in some wax. They had five other fish to look at to check their work, so going for a standard of sux. 

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This is their attempt on the other side of the fin. Almost worse.

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The horizontal fin is wrong as well. They stuck it back on- see how it had deformed the body of the fish as it torqued upward? That’s bcs the room was too hot to store finished waxes.

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It curves. So there’s a minimum bar met. There was an abrupt line smashing inward along one of the bisection seams from the wax room laying it on the table to attach sprews. This went unnoticed and took the medium sledge to massage back to alignment with the other section.

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Still a long way to go ’til they all are up to snuff. Ima gonna lose mu myund if the remaining half (of parts that cast and new parts made in wax to fit where parts failed in bronze pour) are the same, or likely worse. I may still just reject the skinny middle fish from yesterday. They are also doing an entire replacement fish; lets hope this job is done by one of their competent staff and not the sprew crew.

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The easy one. five to go.

Today was a fun-weld day, following many hohum-weld days coupled with doldrum days of chasing fins and grasses. Once all the bits and parts of major sections are perfect, then the parts are welded together, and though the welds are long, they just need smoothed out.

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Goldfish.

The only tackle needed is a hammer.  He was biting on the medium ball pein today.

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Finished halves welded together.

Welding the windows and chasing out the grasses to match is a bit of a chore. The two nearest hoops are new, the one behind is a left over from years ago (still needs some chasing). The new halves were joined along the midline in the rocks, which still need chased. I’ve been limiting my time-on-tool and wearing my new vibration deadening gloves, and things are going swimmingly.

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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.

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Only one fish is made of matching parts.

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A disappointing catch.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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…

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

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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.

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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.