Category Archives: Methods

Thoughts, tips, and questions on sculpture methods.

Ethel and Andromeda

Ethel Cummings, model for Daniel Chester French’s last work, “Andromeda,” was a housemaid in the French household. A humble beauty, Ethel has been immortalized in marble—a story which has some parallels to the original demigoddess. A mortal girl rescued by Perseus and made into a constellation upon her death, Andromeda’s beauty sealed her fate–one fueled by a mother’s vanity, dramatic rescue, and finally, immortality. Though this Andromeda, neoclassically Caucasian, was carved from Georgia white marble by the Piccirilli Brothers workshop in the Bronx, the original Andromeda was an Ethiopian princess. Maquettes for Andromeda (below), French’s last work, are now displayed near the lifesize version at Chesterwood. #GoddessID


A Spelter Gentleman

Another Ansonia clock figure, this dashing artist in 17th century garb seems to be identified as both Rembrandt and Rubens. About 8″ high, he’s a companion for Erato. I’m keeping his original pewter patina but refreshing it with pale gold highlights and darker shadows.

The Mold Room

CaproniA recent visit to Skylights Studios in Woburn, Mass. by the New England Sculptors Associaton (NESA) was hosted by the owner, sculptor Robert Shure. Bob explained the history of his business, and how it has incorporated several significant historic collections from the Boston area, including the PP Caproni and Brother inventory of plaster molds, some made from original 19th century sculpture and some from classical sculpture in Europe. Bob’s personal collection includes many examples of 19th century American vernacular sculptor John Rogers and other gems. This photo is a peek at just one of the mold rooms.

Try Hard, view 2

Dall sheep’s eyes from Maxilla & Mandible!

A Caproni & Brother cast

“The Maiden of Lille” is a plaster cast of a Renaissance original by the pre-eminent producers of plaster casts in America, Caproni & Brother (now owned by the Giust Gallery, Woburn, Mass.)

Caproni Collection, Maiden of Lille

Caproni casts are signed at the back or side, as this one is, and casts from original work by neoclassical sculptors also bear the sculptor’s signature. Once ubiquitous in schools and on parlor pianos, they sometimes turn up in antique shops. The original, 19th-century showroom was in downtown Boston, and founder Pietro Caproni traveled the world taking molds from ancient and contemporary sculpture.

Prospect Hill ForgeTook a great introduction to blacksmithing class at Prospect Hill Forge in Waltham this weekend.  It was about 10 degrees outside, but I warmed up right away making my first project, an S-hook. Prospect Hill Forge offers classes for all levels, and hosts an open forge on Saturday mornings for those with a bit more experience.

Green Foundry outdoor show

Green FoundryI dropped off a wax at the Green Foundry in Eliot, Maine last week. There is a lovely sculpture show on the grounds, which is adjacent to Sanctuary Arts. I was reminded of  foundry days at Andrew DeVries‘s River Studio, where my early work was cast.

More tools: Lux Redux

Gwen Lux with pantographI went to a demonstration of 3D printers recently, and ended up thinking about this photograph of Gwen Lux in her New York studio sometime in the 1940s. Lux is seen enlarging her sculpture for Rockefeller Center using a pantograph, the assemblage of pipes above her head. While the Juley Archive of the Smithsonian houses this and other photographs of Lux with her sculpture (both maquette and full-scale versions), her pantograph is only visible in this shot. A construction of metal and pipe, rigged on a boom near the studio ceiling, it basically worked just like the child’s toy that many of us used to make copies long before the existence of desktop 3D printers.

The pantograph’s basic design is simple: four bars linked together in a parallelogram shape. By tracing an object or drawing with the pointer end, the pantograph traces a larger or smaller image depending upon how one adjusts the pen (or pencil) and pointer.

Wikipedia says that the device was first created by inventor and steam pioneer James Watt in the 18th century, but other, simpler versions were in use by artists in the Renaissance and probably before. Watt’s version was perfected by Benjamin Cheverton (1796–1876) in 1836. Cheverton’s machine was fitted with a rotating cutting bit to carve reduced versions of well-known sculptures.
Another version is still in use to reduce the size of large relief designs for coins.


The casting begins!

Carolyn unmoldingI’m happy to report that my Kickstarter project was fully funded as of this morning! There’s still a few days to go before the time line ends, but I’m starting to cast the reward sculptures. These angels (of our better nature?) were first seen floating above the installation “Who Lives With Us.” Stop by ArtSpace at 4pm this afternoon to see how they’re made!

Microbes rescue sculpture…

neera per gallery micro4art_1358877718Acid rain is the bane of outdoor sculpture in many parts of the world, but a new product made of  sulfate-reducing bacteria shows dramatic results in this Florentine cemetery…read on!