Franconia at Art a Whirl: Maquette show

A maquette means a model, a small version of a sculpture meant to show a client what it will look like. Franconia Sculpture Park-- a paradise of sculpture located just outside Taylors Falls, Minnesota, just north of Stillwater-- had the wonderful idea of hosting a maquette show at the Casket Arts building in Northeast Minneapolis for Art a Whirl. These little guys were in it.

Deer and wolf in paper from "Pack and Herd"-- these can be scaled up to life-size and made in Corten steel

Deer and wolf in paper from "Pack and Herd"-- these can be scaled up to life-size and made in Corten steel

Pack&Herd FranconiaMaquette2SM.jpg

next steps in casting wax

The plaster molds must now be cleaned and soaked for several hours; the water-saturated plaster will not stick to the wax. The plaster must be well cured before we soak it, though.

Goat leg molds soaking

Goat leg molds soaking

Electric roasters make good wax pots because the heat is totally controllable, and you can hold the wax at about 150 degrees. One goat leg has just been poured-- just waiting about 10 minutes for a quarter-inch of wax to solidify in the mold, then I'll pour out the rest, back into the pot. Like making a chocolate Easter bunny!

Electric roasters make good wax pots because the heat is totally controllable, and you can hold the wax at about 150 degrees. One goat leg has just been poured-- just waiting about 10 minutes for a quarter-inch of wax to solidify in the mold, then I'll pour out the rest, back into the pot. Like making a chocolate Easter bunny!

The resulting hollow leg . . .

The resulting hollow leg . . .

We're getting closer!

But the animal faces still need work. What is amazing is how sensitive we are to facial features, whether they belong to people or animals. An eighth of an inch tweak to an eyelid, a shift of a facial plane-- it can change everything about the expression or presence of a face. So there is an infinite amount of subtle adjustment yet to come for our little animals here. It is very hard to catch the soul of Bruce Wayne (that was the name of the model for the little sheep here-- a particularly valiant and charming Babydoll Southdown ram).

Bruce Wayne (foreground) and Jeb (behind). These animals are about 22 inches at the withers.

Bruce Wayne (foreground) and Jeb (behind). These animals are about 22 inches at the withers.

The armature

Here's an armature for one of the barn animals-- this is the wooden structure that will support the hundred pounds or so of clay that will eventually form the sheep, which I'll then create a mold of in plaster. After the plaster mold is pulled off the clay sculpture and cleaned, it's fastened tightly back together and filled with molten microcrystalline wax. After the wax has begun to harden forming a thin shell in the mold, the rest of the liquid wax is poured back into the wax pot. It's sort of like making a hollow chocolate Easter bunny.

Armature for the sheep sculpture. 

Armature for the sheep sculpture. 

A new commission: barn animals for the Zoo

The Lake Superior Zoo was flooded in the torrential rains Duluth experienced last June. Tragically, some of the barn animals in the children's petting zoo were drowned. The Zoo has commissioned me to help them create a memorial to these beloved animals-- I'm working now on the clay for a bronze of a pygmy goat and a babydoll sheep. I'll post some progress photos as they become available.