Category Archives: Methods

Thoughts, tips, and questions on sculpture methods.

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!

Raku with Eleonora Lecei

I recently met with two members of my sculpture group, Joyce Audy Zarins and Eleonora Lecei, at Eleonora’s house and studio for a day of outdoor raku.

We glazed our bisqueware and heated it in Eleonora’s smaller electric kiln, which she’d placed outdoors. When the glaze was molten, we fished the pieces out with long metal tongs and deposited them in a steel drum that had been filled with a mixture of shredded newspaper and sawdust. Once the sawdust caught on fire, the chamber was covered and left to smoke like a captive dragon. Eventually, we pulled the finished pieces out again and sprayed them with water until they cooled.

I used a combination of colors including copper metallic glazes on this head. The result is a finish like tarnished silver that still shows the red earthenware underneath.

New piece in progress

I’ve been working on “Sphinx” for a few months now. It’s lifesize (for a sphinx, I guess), and is paper mache and plaster over foam (you can see the Pink Panther-pink bottom edges where the laminated foam chunks show through). I’m trying to get away from making so many molds! Right now I’m wrestling with the question of whether or not to add a ceremonial beard, worn by both male and female rulers in ancient Egypt. Am leaning toward the beard, then a final texturing and coat of wax.

See this live and in person at Open Studios tomorrow!

Cast metal with your microwave!

My friend Nick sends these instructions for casting low-temperature metals in a home microwave:
Here’s a more technical set of instructions:
Also, the home page of that site (more background):
[Click on “the Reid Technique”]

Has anyone done this at home? I’m going to try casting tin solder as soon as I can get a microwave-size refractory rig set up.

Marion Walton, Alice Bateman and others in Italy

Texas sculptor Alice Bateman ( sends this photo of Marion Walton and others taken at the sculpture studio at Henraux in Querceta, Italy, in 1973.
In the photo, standing left to right: Carlino (polisher) Li (sculptor) Sauro (carver) Primo (carver) Cardini (head carver), Alice M. Bateman (sculptor) Marion Walton (with dark glasses) and Maria Papa (sculptor). Seated: Enrique (sculptor)
and Jeannie (sculptor).
Alice relates: “What wonderful memories of this special time! When the carvers finished a major commission (Moore, Noguchi, M. Marini, and others) they would celebrate with a glass of wine at the studio! Marion was a dear friend of Maria Papa (Rostkowska) who was married to Gualtieri Papa di San Lazzaro, and lived in Paris. My understanding is that they were friends from way back when Marion lived in Paris. Maria’s husband published the art magazine, XXeme Siecle and had the gallery with the same name.”

Photo courtesy Alice Bateman.

Long Live Butchers Wax!

Contrary to rumor, the Butcher’s Wax Company is still alive and doing business. Several of my local hardware stores told me recently that the company had gone out of business and tried to sell me other, inferior waxes! Where these rumors came from I don’t know, but if you find yourself in the same situation you can order direct from the company’s website. I recommend Renaissance Wax for metals and plaster, but the basic clear bowling alley wax is great for outdoor use. I have used it for decades for maintaining outdoor bronze sculptures.