Last year I had the pleasure of working with Jeff Adams and his inBronze foundry. He helped me invest a wax pattern in a ceramic shell mold, which picked up detail and remained true to the original wax beyond what I am able to to at the University of Wisconsin Foundry. I have brought some waxes to him again to invest, and I'm happy to say the castings once again turned out wonderfully.
Created in 2001 and depicting a nineteen part anatomical dissection sequence, these paper dolls are finally being developed into a shadow box piece. They were drawn on a lithography stone at the University of Wisconsin and printed with the help of Lithography Professor and printmaking master, Jack Damer. Some may recognize the dolls from my design of Oneiroid Psychosis' 2001 release, DREAMS (with pollutions when virile). I was never satisfied with half the dolls in the sequence, and so all nineteen sat, tucked into a flat file drawer.
In the long version, the paper dolls become more skeletal towards the end of the sequence, and I always felt they weren't projecting the right mood. I'm glad a shortened version of the progression got printed in DREAMS, but I didn't feel confident enough about the end stage dolls to commit to a shadow box. Over the years I took the nineteen out from their drawer and tried different arrangements, different approaches, always feeling there was some potential.
Recently I have decided to move ahead and use the first ten dolls in the series. The progression feels strongest when the dolls are their most subtle. Dolls #11 and #12 will be framed separately, as they work better as individual images. The rest of the dolls...who knows? For now they return to the flat file. The shadow box itself will be of simple design, with a bronze title plate. The piece will be called The Anatomy Lesson and will be finished early 2017.
There was a sinking moment upon finishing my newest sculpture when I realized that the title and name plates just weren't working for the piece. The central image had gone through many changes, enough where the original title, "All Horizons Lost, Flesh Forever Found", didn't reflect the work any longer. The alliteration in the title always bothered me too. But my main issue with the plates were the rough clunky appearance of the castings. I had so much trouble this year with my investment molds cracking in the kiln and the bronze flashing out. I had tried my best to salvage the plates, but in the end the quality just wasn't there. Maybe over a dozen hours of work lost. After some pacing of the studio, I decided to take the time and effort to remake them. The piece was given the new title "Beneath the Remnant Veil" and new waxes were designed, again using the hearts on either side of the title plate.
The University of Wisconsin Foundry doesn't do ceramic investment, a far superior technique that would solve all of my casting issues. I've been thinking about working with someone to ceramic invest my waxes for a while now, and thought this a small enough of a project to be a test of sorts. I had the great pleasure of working with Jeff Adams and his InBronze Foundry in Illinois and will be working with him for all of my investment castings in the future. The bronzes came out beautifully, superior detail and surfaces than I was able to do.
The finished frame for my next sculpture. Every element has been sculpted and fabricated by myself. Referring to Gothic design and ornament, I was striving for a reliquary feel. This will be my largest piece, with a standing height of 3' 10".
Originally titled "All Horizons Lost, Flesh Forever Found", the center imagery of the piece has undergone so many changes I am renaming the sculpture. It will be now called "Beneath the Remnant Veil". I am working on the new bronze title plate at the moment.
Several hours of gilding later, the base for the upcoming sculpture, The Ephemeral Knot, is finished. In a few days it will go to woodworker Ed Wohl, who is always kind enough to help me with the clear coat finish work.
The primer and color layers being added to the base for The Ephemeral Knot, prior to gold leaf. Traditionally, the red oxide colored layers would be a clay bole. Instead, I use an acrylic for durability. The base will finally be ready to gold leaf this weekend.
The title plate for the upcoming sculpture, All Horizons Lost, Flesh Forever Found, is 13.5" long x 1.25" wide x .25" inches in it's bronze state. The length and relative thinness of the plate made it difficult to realize in metal using the techniques available to me at the foundry. My first attempt left the plate warped and twisted beyond saving. For the second try, I waxed an 1/8" piece of basswood to the back of the wax pattern plate, making it thicker and giving the pattern rigidity. I knew I would have to grind it all off later, but it made a huge difference in how the second title plate came out. As always, my apologies for the cat hair.
The front title plate took me three tries to get a good casting, but the bronze title and name plates for the upcoming piece The Ephemeral Knot are finally done. On either side of the plates are castings of human finger bones, specifically that of a fourth proximal phalange. The bronze has been heated in a kiln up to 1100 degrees, which gives it a black patina. This is then rubbed off in areas to get back to bronze. I applied the final coats of protective finish yesterday.
It was great to be outside in a sunny warm Spring evening opening the mold for the plates for The Ephemeral Knot and All Horizons Lost... But as soon as I started removing the investment, I knew my pieces were in trouble. Maybe the metal was poured too hot, maybe my investment mix wasn't right, but there was an astounding amount of flashing. Some of the castings can be salvaged, but some will have be redone.
Below are pictures of the last bronze pour at the University of Wisconsin foundry. I poured my investment mold for the title plates of The Ephemeral Knot, and All Horizons Lost, Flesh Forever Found, as well as a few other waxes for future pieces. Observing this time was a group from a local high school.
A sprue tree recently completed. Title and back plates for an upcoming large bronze sculptural piece entitled All Horizons Lost, Flesh Forever Found. Also the remake of The Ephemeral Knot title plate, and some other wax objects for future pieces.
I wanted to share more pictures from the last bronze pour at the University of Wisconsin Foundry. Two of the investment molds were my own, the rest belonging to other artists.
I was a bit worried about how the arm would turn out because of how much bronze was used. If a metal sculpture is too thick, the cooling process can cause cracks or collapsing. Prior to investment, I thinned out what wax I could from the underside, but much of the sculpture had to be thick for future tapping and bolt placements. But everything formed well, and I'm really pleased with the level of detail.
This will be my largest bronze sculpture as of yet, although there are larger ones to come this year. The brush on rubber mold with plaster mother mold worked beautifully, and I got a usable model on the first wax pour. The mold is going to be poured in bronze soon, and I'll be heading into the foundry this weekend to see how the piece looks.
The main clay sculpt for the upcoming bronze, The Ephemeral Knot, is finished. The completed piece should invoke the wax anatomical models of Museo di Storia Naturale "La Specola" in Florence, Italy, which I was fortunate enough to tour.
The piece is a not too subtle reminder of childhood mortality. The obviousness is hopefully excused- for with classic form comes classic symbolism.
The next step is to make the mold for the investment wax.
Gratitude goes to Rebekah and Leif Hansen, for allowing me to life cast their daughter Nova's hand and arm. And thank you, Nova.
The bell jar for the upcoming piece, Ossis Fateor Memoria, is finally complete. Many thanks to two Wisconsin glass artists for assisting me in creating what I had envisioned. Steve Feren helped me invest my wax placenta sculpt and did the glass casting. Richard Jones of Studio Paran completed the cold work on the glass placenta and helped me attach it to the bell jar. I thank them both for their time and patience working with me.