Friday, January 25, 2013

Harriet Tubman Bronze Available for Purchase

2013 ~ the year of Harriet Tubman, honoring an American Hero.

"Fierce - The Triumph of Harriet Tubman" Life-sized bust of Harriet Tubman cast in lost-wax bronze mounted on a black marble base.

You can see the creation of the original ceramic portrait sculpture of Harriet Tubman on my website.

The lost-wax life-sized bronze is now available for purchase. This is a small edition of 9 and the first one has already been sold to a private collector in Kansas.

$2750 (shipping $35 - please contact for shipping quote to countries outside of U.S.)

Purchase safely with Paypal, credit card placed over the phone, money order or check. Payment plans are available, please contact me for information.

I carefully selected an earthy and heavily grogged stoneware clay for this sculpture. The rugged body of this clay, with it's gritty aggreates and the expressive tooling of the clay combine to give a heaviness and world-weary feel to her face.


People often wonder where inspiration for art comes from. In this particular instance, I was reading two books simultaneously, as I often do. The books were unrelated and not historical, however on the day that I was reading them, they both made a reference to Harriet Tubman - the Conductor of the Underground Railroad. The coincidence provoked a distant memory of studying about her in school and renewed my curiosity about her.

This led to the reading of several biographies of Harriet, where I learned of her immense strength, courage and business acumen. She was a tiny but tremendously strong woman who suffered a terrible blow to the head in her youth while protecting a fellow slave from an overseer. This injury left a scar on her forehead and life-long seizures that renered her unconscious at times. In her later years she went on to campaign for women's suffrage and created a home for the aged.

After reading all I could about this amazing woman, I took time to contemplate her character and then endeavored to sculpt a bust of Harriet Tubman that embodied her ferocious soul - defiantly rising above the restraints set upon her. As this was such a personal journey for me, the original fired clay portrait will not be sold and will remain in my studio with me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Building up the form of the figure

I'm continuing to build up the forms in this water-based clay sculpture that is based off of my tiny maquette, "Loss". I cut off the arms and removed the wire armature as they were drying out too quickly - that then started to place the arm shapes back into place with toothpicks to bolster them until the clay firms up a bit. 
The clay is old and isn't the best to work with. Seems like I buy clay - then another deadline hits and I store it too long - and it loosed the placsticity a bit. Nevertheless, I will continue to refine the sculpture and add the hands next. On a different note, I've been accepted to the Loveland Sculpture Invitational again this year and will be working hard to have new works for the show in August!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beginning a new figure sculpture - "Loss"

Taking a break from the ecorche piece and trying something a bit different. I am sculpting from a tiny, quick maquette that I made a couple of months ago depicting the emotion of "loss". The was before the indescribable day of Sandy Hook....but since then this sculpt has prayed on my mind. So I decided to table my work for the moment to give some attention to this.

Usually I work in either water based clay for firing or oil-based clay for mold-making and then bronze. But for this piece, I'm working with a metal armature like I would with oil-based clay, but I'm sculpting with water-based clay instead. I just really love the feel of waterbased clay and wanted to give this a go.

The tiny sketch is a oil-based clay and the enlargement that I started is a metal armature with water-based clay on it. It can't be fired -as you can't dry and fire waterbased clay with a metal armature in it. In fact, I really can't let it dry out at all, because the clay with shrink and crack and become terribly brittle. What I plan to do is have the mold-maker take a mold directly from the leather-hard clay before it dries. Then cast in bronze.

I've  not done this before - my bust of Harriet Tubman was a fired clay piece, so not fragile when making the mold. But it's good to experiment.

"Loss" as I'm doing her now stands about 15" tall and has a long shadow being cast before her - symbolic of the darkness that she's feeling. I've blocked in some of the basic forms and shapes of the anatomy and look forward to beginning the refining stage next.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wax chasing Harriet Tubman for bronze bust

Publishing deadlines have delayed my sculpture a bit and I've fallen behind. I have two waxes of "Fierce - the triumph of Harriet Tubman" ready to be chased and taken to the foundry that I need to complete.  Each and every bronze goes through a lengthy process. The sculpting of the original is only the beginning. After a multi-piece piece mold of the original is made a rotational, hollow cast of wax is made. This wax will likely have seams from where the mold rubber is joined as well as bubbles and other imperfections. Whatever your wax shows will also be shown on your bronze casting - so care must be taken to make the wax casting impeccable. 

Now that I've chased one wax, it's time to chase the second one and then run them both down to the foundry. There are several foundries that I use and for this particular bronze, I'll be using Madd Castings.