Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks to John Books, see his web-site here, who came down from Thunder Bay to do some casting of his work and to cast a friendly but critical eye on the Duluth Project figures.
Often times when working on a piece it is really hard to see the faults in it. John was able to see that the male figure was standing too far back on his heels, among other less obvious faults. It took a few hours extra work but by shimming up the figure, basically giving him a heel lift, it improved things tremendously.
Lesson learned; Make the fastenings to the base adjustable!
According to John we must, " stay calm, be brave and wait for the sign."

cut out clay and drilled through to bolt down the armature after shimming

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chavant Plasteline Modeling Clay

This is my first experience of working on a large scale piece using Chavant Plasteline. I must say that the expense is well worth it. In the past I have used water based sculpting clay and the need to keep the clay damp and covering and uncovering the piece all the time was a real time consumer. I have also made my own plasteline. This is a mix of dry clay and used motor oil. You guessed it, a stinky mess. That material worked OK for taking up space in resin bonded sand molds but I didn't want to risk the heavy sulfur content during this project. Sulfur in clay is incompatible with the flexible rubber mold materials I will be using.

I have found the Chavant to be nice to work with especially when heated with a lamp. I have also used a heat gun on the sculptures to soften the surface. When it cools it tools well and holds texture nicely. I have a ways to go on this project till I'm ready for mold making but the material has become a partner in the process rather than an element I must struggle with.

I'll start on the shirts tomorrow, with a couple days off for Christmas I still may be finishing the clay at the first of the year. Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Duluth News Tribune

Thanks to Peter Passi for the nice article in Thursday's Duluth News Tribune. It's nice to have this kind recognition and a "good news" news article on the front page. Well, good news to me. In the article Todd Fedora, Duluth City Councilor, questions whether public art is a good value. I would like to point out that nearly every dollar I am earning is going back into the community and this commission ensures my ability to keep paying my employees. Lester has gotten fond of eating on a regular basis.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Duluth Public Art Sculpture

This is my "lovely assistant" Lester helping move the sculptures. We were able to lift the female figure up on the stand by hand but brains over-ruled brawn. I made an attachment to bolt into the ceiling making this process much easier. Brings to mind the old saying, "strong like like tractor".

Duluth Public Art sculpture

Detail of the female officer boots and some tools of the trade. We will take this figure off the sawhorses today and move the male figure up to work on the legs. Good progress now and I'm very excited with how it's coming along.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Duluth Public Art Sculpture Progress

That's me working on the female deputy boots and legs. Because the core of the piece is mostly foam we were able to lift it up on saw horses. It's a little tough to be crawling around on the floor for this work. To the right is my heat lamp warming up the plasteline clay to make it easier to work.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Working on ears for the female figure. When I see a photo like this I really get an idea of how big these are.
Next I will start on clothing the body, from the feet up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DPA Project

Making progress on the faces. Thanks to my friends John and Judie for allowing me to photograph them for modeling. Tomorrow I'll be working on the figures from the bottom up. When I am nearly finished I'll go back to the faces to" fine tune" them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Duluth Public Art Project

After a week visiting Washington DC and the WW 2 Memorial with my dad it's nice to be back at work. We visited the Capitol building and the Hall of Sculptures and the Korean War Memorial. All gave me inspiration for these big figures.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Whole Foods, Minnetonka, MN finished

I finished installing the cattails at the new Whole Foods in Minnetonka. The grand opening is October 12th so I made it in plenty of time. Thanks to John  of J. Swisher Construction install was as it should be. No surprises.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

clay, YEA!

The female figure just before adding the first layer of clay

Clay on the figure

Working with the Plasteline clay on wire mesh is a bit hard on the fingers. Having the right amount of heat on the clay helps a lot. Posters on the wall are from the event in the studio announcing our new venture, Studio Forma, Click here for info.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Duluth Public Art Project (DPA)

Off with his head, weld on the support

On with his head

The wire mesh on styro to hold the clay in place,  I'll have to remove this head too for the support rod

A brain storm. While working on the figures and thinking ahead to the mold making process I came up with this idea. Why not create a way to support the figures horizontally to facilitate mold making? The rubber mold material always sags and runs down before it hardens when applied on vertical surfaces. These figures are so big I was concerned about obtaining good results so why not make them to fit a rotisserie? I cut off the heads and welded an extension to the steel armature. Now I will be able to support them from both ends and turn them to make the mold application easier.

Whole Foods, Minnetonka, MN

A couple weeks ago I received a call requesting  a sculpture for an identifier for the entrance to the new Whole Foods store opening in Minnetonka in October. Speed was essential to complete and install the piece by grand opening. My client gave me permission to change the suggested design. Minnetonka has cattails painted on the water tower so this is what I came up with. Still need to do a finish patina but it looks pretty good, I think.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sense of Scale

This will give you a sense of how large these figures are going to be. I'm still roughing out the styro which is going to be covered with clay. This process is valuable in getting the scale implanted in my mind. It's a bit harder to work larger than life than smaller. For some reason our minds are really tuned to life size and reluctant to accommodate the bigger scale.

My, You are a big girl!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Duluth Public Art Project (DPA)

After the Grand Marais art festival, a small group show at Johnson Gallery in grand Marais and a death in the family I am finally back to work on the DPA project.
Over the welded steel armatures I'm using Styrofoam insulation board to fill out the figures. Over the styro I'll be stretching expanded metal mesh, over that will go the clay.

Notice the drawings on the wall I use to check my proportions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Celebration of Fiber Art

Studio transformed, Karen speaking in the tent

Jo Wood

Stu's tools

Debbie Cooter
Yesterday, July 2nd, we hosted a Celebration of Fiber Art with guest artists Karen Lohn, Jo Wood and Debbie Cooter. Each artist spoke about their particular view of fiber art and gave demonstrations. Good weather, good food, good  music. What could be better?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DPA Armatures

Here are the armatures welded up. I used the drawings on the floor to size these. Think of them as skeletons to hold the foam and clay up. Tomorrow I will be gluing foam insulation board over these to fill out and roughly shape the figures. Got 240 pounds of Chavant sulphur free plasteline clay today. This is an oil based clay that will not dry out while I'm sculpting. In the past I have used water based clay and spent far too much time trying to keep the clay the correct level of damp. The plasteline will eliminate that time drain.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Duluth Public Art Project (DPA)

I received the first payment for the DPA project this week and can finally get started. I was awarded the project in February but it takes time to deal with contracts and insurance. Now the fun begins. I will be making at least weekly posts so you can follow the progress. First thing to do is figure scale, shrinkage and armature (steel skeleton). This is a picture of the two figures drawn out on the floor to the scale that the original clay sculpture (the pattern) will be. The tape measure is pulled out to 7 feet. The finished bronze sculpture will shrink about 5% through the process of going from clay to wax to bronze.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Judith's Spirit

Finished the sculpture today. When I put a head on the object it defeated the idea of expressing spirit. I'm happy with this outcome.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Progress

Cutting out a pattern in cardboard or doing a drawing is always easier than realizing the object in bronze.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Judith Gesch Sculpture

Titanium parts, nice patina, sitting on the fab. table

one idea with the parts as arm and leg and hat, scribbles represent bronze to be sculpted

another idea using parts as legs and cap as umbrella, sculpture will be mounted on stone from the North Shore 
Judith Gesch was an artist, dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She had hip surgeries and joked that her children should use the parts left after cremation for a sculpture. Peta Barrett, her daughter, is following through with the idea.
Here are the pieces on the bench and some ideas on how they could be incorporated into a bronze sculpture.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Red and Blues Great Adventure

Loaded up the horses for the trip to the cities and then on to Scottsdale. We had a nice opening for the Kickin' show at Grand Hand, then left for Arizona early the next morning. All day went through big winds and dust storms, temps to 90. This morning woke to snow in Texas.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Red and Blue Horses just about ready

Here are pictures of Red and Blue waiting for the final clear coat over the paint. I'll load them up tomorrow afternoon for the big trip to Arizona. It will be fun traveling with them in the back of the pick up and I plan on parking in front of Grand Hand Gallery Saturday during the opening of Kickin'.
I should be able to get some pictures on the way, I'll post them if anything looks interesting.

Final destination for Red and Blue is in the Scottsdale area. Special thanks to Elaine at Xanadu Gallery for finding a buyer for them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kickin' Show at Grand Hand

10,5 inch horse, Bronze

11 inch Horse, Bronze

15 inch Horse, Bronze

20 inch Horse, Bronze

20 inch Horse, detail

22 inch "War Horse" Bronze

64 inch Horse, Bronze

52 inch "Little Lester" Bronze
Here are some of the new sculptures I'm bringing to St. Paul for the Kickin' Show opening Saturday April 2, Reception is from 5 till 8 PM. Click here for more information.