This piece is called “Pyramid in Oyster.” I know it’s not super creatively named, but I don’t want to come off all pedantic and name it something like “The Eternal Struggle Against Mortality.” Although, now that I see that in print…..
The stone originally started north of 120lbs and after removing nearly 40% in cutting out the pyramid, the sculpture is down to 82.6lbs. It is 18in tall and 16in wide. I would have liked to thin out the sides more, but I am afraid of breaking the stone and I am trying to limit how much I grind off the original stones as I am making a HUGE mess in my yard.
I like to combine soft curves with hard lines, so that was the general idea behind the work. I had originally thought of straight rays coming from the pyramid, but I think that design is already on money, plus it was just too many straight edges. The back side is mainly left raw, but I did grind some scalloped edges to make it look kind of like the back of an oyster.
I polished the face of the pyramid, and all but two of the curved recesses. I left them raw as when I hit the first big recess with the sand paper a really neat design popped out, so I made sure the other side had a similar pattern left from the grinder and it did, so I left it unfinished as well as the sides of the pyramid to create some contrast.
Without my air tools I am having to sand out the grinder marks by hand and it is time and labor intensive. I have to work from 50 grit, through 80, 120, 320, 600, 1200, and finish with 2000 grit sandpaper. “My fingers hurt.” heh.
Well. I hope you like it and I am selling this one for $250 if any is interested.
I was able to work on a horse for Mary for a few days over the past couple of weeks and here it is. I used a 1/2 gallon milk carton for a mold to pour a plaster block. While the plaster was wet I aggressively took material off. I was limited in depth so I stylized the horse, elongating the legs and truncating the torso. I wanted to include Mary’s love of horses so I incorporated a heart shape to the shoulders and hind quarters.
I did find that even though I used finer and finer sandpaper, I continued to make scratches in the plaster, so the finish is still not as smooth as I would like. I will continue to research materials to smooth out the finish.
I was given some large pieces of alabaster by a former art teacher at Patriot High School. I am very grateful as I was honestly uncertain what medium I would finally end up sculpting in.
This particular piece was around 80lbs and very tall and narrow. I knew that I would like to do something that lifted the eye from the base upward. I had completed a Chinese Pagoda in clay during the spring and I was very interested in continuing with an Asian series. I also had sculpted the Asian Elephant for Dawn that same semester. I have been told that I would be advised to try and complete works in a series as they would be more likely to be ready for a gallery showing. I thought that a Chinese dragon spiraling upward around a stone monolith would be great. As I had never worked on stone, I was not sure that I could even do it. But, I am finding that I always go all in or nothing, so I started hammering away. I tried a variety of tools: Hammer and chisel, Grinder with diamond cutting blade, and an Italian sculpting chisel. The dragon was actually proceeding very well, but I began to see large fissures in the stone. I kept going but knew I was going to lose some stone. I decided to attack the cracks to see where they led and about 20lbs of stone fell vertically off the rock.
At that point I decided that a dragon was not going to happen. I was thinking about the Egyptian Heron Bowl and how much I liked the birds. I felt that if I stylized the bird and elongated the shape into more of a silhouette of the bird, it would work with the stone I had left. As the bird took shape I saw that I did not have enough width to include a beak and plume. I sculpted each out of wax and casted them in bronze. I would figure out how to attach them in the end. I had an idea, but no actual evidence to suggest that it would work.
As I shaped the bird I found that I had about 5-6 in of stone left for the base. I wanted to keep with the suggestion of form, rather than accuracy and contrasted the smooth curves of the bird with sharp angles of water reeds and grass. I had researched a place to find marble up north of Victorville and went out with Dawn one day to mine some antique verde marble from an abandoned quarry. I was able to hammer and chisel a couple of 10-20 pound chunks out of the mountain and thought it would be neat to incorporate the green stone into the design as extended blades of water grass from the base. I wanted the grass to carry the eye upward as the heron is very thin and the sides are very vertical. I curved the blades and asymmetrically placed them to create a movement up and around the bird.
The beak, plume, and grass we all countersunk and epoxied in place. The bonze plume was accented in green patina and the beak was polished to a gloss. The completion of this piece has been the most fulfilling of all my works so far and I know I intend to make stone my main focus of sculpture. I still intend on using mixed media of metals and other stones. I am working on a wood base right now that is challenging me, so I am not sure about the future of wood in my designs.
This was my second bronze project, following the hand molded wolf fetish. Our assignment was to create a bowl. I did not want to go with the standard round shape, so I decided on a stout square bowl with angled sides. Having the sides angled outward made me think of a pyramid shape and so the idea of creating and Egyptian style scene on each side intrigued me. I have always liked herons and cranes. I looked up some old Egyptian art and found a picture that I used as the inspiration for my overall designs. I wanted each panel to be part of a complete scene, so I used the style from the original artwork to show the heron flying, landing, walking, and eating.
The first step in the process of lost wax bronze casting is to make a wax model of your design. I poured a 6in by 24in flat strip of wax about 1/2 in thick and divided it into four equal pieces. I then began to subtractively sculpt the reliefs into the wax plates, while also additively building the bodies and wings of the birds in order to create more depth. Once the wax plates were sculpted, I melted the corners together, added a bottom and began the venting and gating process.
I made two bowls and once gated and vented, they required face coating. Once the face coating was dry, I placed them in chicken wire and tar paper molds for investing.
After the investment hardens, the whole mold must be placed in a kiln for a week to melt out all the wax, leaving a hollow cavity to pour molten bronze into. The bronze is heated in a forge to over 1200 degrees and then poured from a crucible into the mold. Once the bronze cools, the mold is broken away and the face coat and residual investment is removed.
After cleaning, cutting off all gates and vents, the hard work of finishing the surface takes place. I completed two bowls. One bowl has polished highlights and a green patina on the inside. The second bowl was polished along the edges and corners as well as the birds.
I began with 50 pounds of basic sculpting clay. There is a 1in pipe with newspaper and tape going up about 3/4 of the way inside the elephant. I cut sqaure sheets of clay from the bag and layered them on. I did my best to pack the clay together as I applied it to keep it from separatign later on.
I then began to slowly pull clay from the bottom up to the sides of the the elephant, rounding out the body as I narrowed the legs and feet.
The body began to take shape and I pulled clay forward to create the head and eventually the trunk. I kept thinning the legs out and separated the legs from each other with slight indentations. The feet flared out slightly at the base.
Eventually he was smooth and ready for details. I tried to make all of the features subtle and slightly abstracted. The only parts of the elephant I wanted to be suggestive of a real elephant were the ears. Asian elephant ears are smaller. I tried to capture the actual shape and main points of the ear, although I kept them close to the body as to not break up the roundness of the body. After a couple of weeks in class he went in the kiln and came out pink, with only minor cracks.
With some help from my instructor, I began to apply an acrylic faux finish. The idea was to acheive a cast iron appearance. I finished the elephant with a coat of clear.
One of our last assignments, but the one I want to show first was a logo design for ourselves. I had been thinking about something I could put on all of my sculpture that didn’t involve me scribbling out my name or initials.
I chose to symbolize my last name to also incorporate the direction of my studies, which is metal sculpture. The anvil represents the metalsmith I hope to become and I used roman numerals to spell our “gold” – together: Goldsmith
An exercise we did early on was to create an animal logo. I had just finished an elephant sculpture and ran with that idea for a fictional company called “Sleeping Elephant Bedding”
Here are a couple of designs from a contrast assignment.
After reflecting the coursework, I am going to make sure to emphasize the study of color as I progress forward in my degree.
Two female wolves and three cubs parted the foliage at the edge of the small clearing. Two wolves lay dead near the similarly unmoving mountain lion that had intruded on the end of a long hunt. One of the females came forwards and licked at the leader’s torn ear. The cubs watched, soaking in all of the movements of the older wolves, learning from the teachers whose lessons were literally so vital that failure to learn meant death.
His torn ear aside, the alpha was obviously filled with pride. The meal before them would fill their muscles with strength and the survival of the pack was assured for some time to come. Sniffing the air before him, he feasted first, as was his right.
This was my first bronze cast. I chose the wolf as my Zuni fetish as the wolf represents teaching. Like the wolf I hope to teach through my actions as well as my words.
I first sculpted the wolf from micro-crystalline wax. After getting the shape primarily finished by hand, I used wood and metal sculpting tools to refine some of the details. My goal was to retain some of stylized nature of original fetishes.
After smoothing out the wax to my satisfaction, the piece was poured in the same investment as several other classmates. We broke the bronzes out of the investment and began to clean them up. I used a hacksaw and a variety of files to finish the surface of the bronze. To smooth out the wolf’s coat, I used a Dremel with a scotchbrite wheel. I wanted to keep some roughness in the finish. I buffed the wolf out some more on a wheel and applied a black patina.
He ended up with a nick in his right ear. I kept it.
Once liberated from her brace, Dawn’s recovery had some ups and downs. Her lower back was great, but because of six weeks of forced bed-rest, her hips and knees gave her trouble. Dawn pushed herself to get back to 100 percent, but sometimes suffered from pushing too hard. She kept improving and finally in 2011 she became a certified Yoga instructor and is doing great.
We have been hauling that brace around for three years and I wanted to get rid of it. She felt an odd connection to it though and after some discussion, she allowed me to destroy it in order to make a sculpture for her. I personally felt that she went through the fire to get better and an Idea of a phoenix rising was my initial direction. I wanted to have the phoenix rising from a blossoming flower because I can see the beauty in her Yoga practice.
Dawn was exploring the idea of opening a Yoga studio and she had designed a logo for herself. Two weeks after I had done my first sketch, which she had not seen, she drew up a flame rising from a lotus flower. I find it amazing how we are always on the same page with our thinking. I showed her my design and told her I would shift it to her logo. The fire lotus idea was complete.
I used a dremel to cut the petals and flames from the front back and leg section of the back brace. I then used a two part epoxy to adhere the foam coated plastic pieces together.
He had trained for years, bending his will before his masters. He realized the depth of what they had to offer and he accepted their wisdom as his own. When he left behind the protection of the school, he knew he would have to forge his own way forward, adapting what he had been taught in order to triumph in his battles. No matter what he was taught, his future was his own and he would have to fashion his own armaments from what he was given.
Humble Warrior found he was only half prepared for what was to come. He had the instruction and the tools for his profession, but in many cases, those he sought out to assist rejected him. He was attacked, unsupported, and abandoned. The most demoralizing pain he felt was being blamed for the situations he lived his life trying to prevent.
Looking out into the storm, Humble Warrior steeled his resolve. He set in his mind the belief that no matter the ferocity of the storm, the sun found its way to bring light to the eyes of those who sought its warmth. Humble Warrior marched out into the tempest and bowed before those he was to serve. As he offered himself to them, he closed his eyes with hope that they would accept him.
“Humble Warrior Gives of Himself” is a piece inspired by Alexander Calder and assigned during my first 3d design course. The material is white Taskboard. The Taskboard was cut with an X-acto knife from hand drawn lines and notched to assemble. The paint is acrylic black, metallic blue, and metallic gold. Gorilla super glue was used for some of the joints and the entire piece was coated in Triple Thick Gloss Glaze. The task board became too supple after the application of the gloss and I had to reinforce the legs with brass tubing.
I was inspired to create the piece based on the feelings I have as a teacher. I see the professionals around me offer themselves up to their students in order to help those students realize their dreams. Teaching is a humble profession. The past decade has seen educators come under fire from all angles in society. No matter what though, every summer, teachers hide from the storm, revitalize and begin every year with hope.
As the young princess admired the many gold bracelets that nearly encompassed her entire forearm, she spoke to the nearest attendant, “Bring me my box of necklaces. My neck is cooling without the comfort of more gold and jewels upon me.”
Without looking, the nearest girl turned and dashed from the room so that her mistress would not think her lazy.
“Am I not the luckiest princess in all the world?” the princess asked no one in particular. “Men come courting me at every turn, bringing the most lavish gifts of gold to impress me.” The princess lifted lightly from the seat she was reclining in and glided smoothly through the water toward the edge where her personal slaves awaited. “If only those silly men knew that my only two loves include bathing and gold.” The princess waited for any response from her slaves. Nothing. Annoyed she pressed them for speech. “Well, what do you think, slave?”
Not knowing which of them the princess was referring too, both girls answered in unison, “Yes princess, you are certainly the luckiest.” Their eyes never left the floor at their feet.
At that moment, the first attendant ran back into the room empty handed. She knelt at the edge of the bathing pool, prostrating herself before her mistress.
After seeing this unusual behavior, the slight flush on the princess’ skin, originally from the heat of the pool, deepened to an angry red. All three girls began to tremble. Unlike the temperature of the bathing pool, it took a lot more time for the heat of the angry princess to lower and it usually involved punishment for the innocent as well as the guilty.
Before the princess could utter her first admonishment, she gasped in surprise as a woman dressed, and veiled, entirely in black entered her bathing room without escort or permission. Surprise was quickly replaced with unbridled rage at this uninvited guest, but when the woman lowered the black veil hiding her face, the princess froze in fear.
The woman in black hissed, “Surprised to see me, Koiranna?” The woman spoke as if intimately familiar with the young princess.
The princess stammered, “Why are you here? We had a deal.” The princess could feel the bath water cooling around her and goose pimples began to cover her skin.
“We did have a deal, young princess. I provided you with a spell that would lead a prince for you to marry to your side who was worthy of you and would provide you with a full happy life and you would keep your father from sending his men into my woods. You turned the first prince down, as well as the hundreds of worthy men who have been drawn to you from all over this world, seeking your hand in marriage. Instead of seeing the men, you saw their gifts and you became greedy. You have hoarded their gifts of gold and hoarded their love, returning nothing. Under the spell, the men were forced to leave your presence, but they could not get you out of their hearts. Hoping you would change your mind, they wander around your tower, awaiting your call. They eat nothing, they drink nothing, and very quickly they fall and perish. The land surrounding your tower is covered in the bones of men, lost because of your greed.” The old woman was slowly rolling the sleeves of her robes up, exposing flesh burned with the caustic chemicals of her craft.
The princess was visibly shaken. “I had no idea they would perish.”
“You asked for a spell that would make a man unable to live without you. What did you think would happen when you spurned him?” The old woman pulled a knife from within her robe and faster than one would imagine, she reached forward and cut a lock of hair from the paralyzed princess’ head.
“No one told me.”
“You never cared to ask what happened to the men, and no one dares speak to you out of turn for fear of your wrath.” The old woman was rubbing a mixture she poured out of a small blue vial into the hair in the palm of her hand. Even from several feet away, the serving slaves could hear the sizzling of hair and flesh as the old woman pressed the mixture into her palm.
“You can’t blame me. They kept coming.” The princess could not take her eyes off of the old woman even though she wanted to do nothing more than send her slaves for help.
Peering down at her palm, satisfied with the results, the old woman reached for a lamp that was hanging on the wall next to the pool. The lamp was burning lavender oil and the flame was steady and strong as she held it out in front of her. “Until you chose a prince, the spell would continue to influence men to seek you out. The compulsion they felt was too powerful.”
“I will choose the next man that comes.”
“It’s too late. I have come to end the spell.”
“Are you going to kill me?” The princess was as far as she could possibly be from the old woman, but she knew that she could not escape her.
Chuckling, the old woman shook her head. “No, death would be too good for you. I do want to make sure you have those things you say you truly love with you at all times.” The old woman held the saturated hair above the flames, and as fire enveloped the hair, a splash sounded in the pool. “Men will still some to gaze at your wonder as you swim in your pool. They will still toss gold at you as they will still feel that you will reward them with luck. But, when they leave, they will live, as the spell is now broken. You will remain as empty as you have always been until a man comes to love you for who you are, rather than for the luck he hopes you bring him.”
It took several minutes of silence before the attendant slave girls would lift their heads to peer into the pool. When they did, they saw a beautiful fish made of rings swimming effortlessly through the now cooled waters of the pool. The girls looked at each other in fear. Although it seemed as though they were beyond the reach of the princess, the king would not forgive them if his daughter was harmed. As they ran for their quarters, intent on gathering their things and running for their lives, they could hear the king begin to call for his daughter using the nickname he had given her when she was young.
The assignment was to create an organically inspired model using a singular geometric shape. We could vary the dimensions of the shape. I chose a ring.
The Koi was made with Bristol board cut into strips and glued at the ends to make rings. I first began with ½in x 6in strips. I glued several together, making large rings. I made 4 progressively smaller diameter rings to be placed inside each large one. I glued them together as one side of the ring using super tacky glue. I made a couple of smaller sets and then glued them end to end, making the spine of the fish. The inner rings are intended to be the “ribs” of the fish. I then began to make ¼in and 5/16in wide strips and cut them 3-4in in length. These strips would be glued at the ends to make the scales. I started with the smallest rings and glued about ten of them together to make a chain. I then wrapped these “chains” around the fish body to make the scales. I used a ring at the top to attach two chains to each other and part of the larger rings of the spine. I attached each chain at the bottom with another ring which was also looped through the bottom of the fish spine to secure the scales in place. I layered chain over chain, using progressively larger rings in order to increase the girth of the fish.
I used a couple hundred rings to make the scales. I made much wider rings of various diameters to make the fins. I used 1/2in rings of decreasing diameters, glued to each other at the top and bottom to make an “oval” feature for the head of the fish. I made small 1/2in diameter rings and glues them together at the top and bottom to create small orbs for the eyes. I made and eyebrow from various small rings as well as a dorsal fin that runs the entire length of the body with rings as small as I could make them while still keeping them round. The finished Koi was entirely white. I estimate the project took 40-50 hours.
I liked the white, but I wanted to give it some color to contrast the outer scales with the inner spine rings. I initially considered spraying the fish. I could not come up with a way to prevent overspray, so I decided on watercolors. I had originally planned to just pain the edges of the rings to subtly add color. I was unable to keep from hitting the backs of the scales, so I painted them completely. I chose a yellow base and added swaths or splotches of red and black. The fish stays pretty white from the front, but almost becomes solid color from the back. I decided to not paint the side or tail fins. The inner white is visible through the colored scales.
I mounted the fish to a mirror to give it a water feel and entered it into the 2012 Irvine Valley College student art show. The Koi was selected to be in the show. I am very pleased.]]>