Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mounting "Just Tryin' to Help" and "Tolte" progress

"Just Tryin' to Help" is a bronze comprised of two related sculptures, a filly and a man.  Both are 1/4 lifesized.  The man is looking directly at the filly when they're arranged correctly, but after seeing how other folks move them around, I decided they needed to be on a base to relate to each other properly.  So my basemaker, Diane Soper of Sistermaide Woodworking in Lewisburg OH, made beautiful bases for me (as usual!) and today we mounted the bronzes.  It took a lot more doing than you might expect - I hold the horse upside down in my lap while she makes a template for the bottom of the bronze, marking where the drilled and tapped holes are inside the bronze's base.  Then she marks the wood and drills the holes and we spend a lot of time trying to line up the hole in the bronze with the hole in the wood from the bottom of the wooden base.  It's a lot more trouble than it sounds like, believe me!  And because it's so much physical labor and hard on both of us, I think I may have the foundry (which is full of big, burly men!) put the base on "Tolte" since it will weigh between 60 and 80 lbs!  Anyway, here are pictures of my beautiful Bitsy baby when she was a little one, and my hubby John, in a scene from real life here on our farm.


And now more progress on "Tolte."  These pics show progress made as of 12/27/09.

The toothpicks sticking out of her are markers for joints (knee, hock, fetlock) and her eyes, to help me keep things measured correctly.  The small lump of clay at the top of her right shoulder is a note to myself to build that shoulder up more, since her weight is on it (this after a visit from my daughter, Jennifer Truett of Dancing Horse Farm, Lebanon OH - she's a dressage trainer and FEI level rider with a great eye for conformation).  I wasn't really at the point of building that shoulder up yet, but since Jennifer pointed it out, I put a bit of clay there to make sure I wouldn't forget to build it up.  I try to get her to look at my sculptures at least before they  go to  the foundry so someone who knows what to look for can make sure I haven't missed anything!

Yesterday when I went out to the studio, suddenly that right foreleg (the one that's on the ground) looked too far back.  I messed around with the muscle a bit to make sure my eye wasn't being fooled.  It wasn't!  So I had to rip that leg off - yes, that's what I said!  I had to remove the clay that was over the wax, then soften the wax by warming it with a hair dryer.  Once it was warm enough, I could remove the leg and the pad of wax that was holding it in.  Here's the hole after I removed the leg.

I cleaned out the hole, cleaned off the armature wax I would need the next batch of wax to adhere to, and moved the hole in the shoulder forward so the leg would be about 1/4 inch farther forward than it was before.  Here's the horse with her leg replaced.

I still h ave a lot of repair work to do.  I had to cover the shoulder with clay and build it up again (and add the height to it that indicates it's bearing weight, as my daughter pointed out) and repair the sculpting in the leg itself as well as making it stick to the board with some clay. 

The problem with working with wax is that wax chips (bits that get broken off while working with it or while removing clay that's touched it) get into everything, so I spent quite a while picking chips of wax out of the clay.  If I'd left them there, the bronze would have strange-looking bumps and flat spots here and there because of them, which wouldn't be good at all!

Here's the mare with her shoulder repaired and her leg in better shape.

I'm still not happy with her shoulder, but her foreleg is in a better position.  I will double-check the position of her hind legs now that there's enough clay on them for me to have a better idea how all of her parts are going to relate to each other.

I don't know if I've shown you how I melt the wax.  I use metal cake pans on electric griddles.  I have to be careful to not get it too hot.  The lump you see here is the wax I removed from her shoulder, which I used in her shoulder again once it had softened enough to work with.

And that's where I am now.  Her barrel needs to be filled out a bit on the bottom so it's evenly round and I have to check those back legs, but overall, she's getting into decent shape.  Before I get too detailed on her, I'll have to start her rider.  That's another blog for another day . . .


  1. Linda Alexander-Radak9:15 AM

    and people wonder why sculpture costs so much....*wink*!