Sunday, September 25, 2011

Refining Leaves and Branches

Work continues on the Tree of Life commission.

This is how the sculpture looked at the end of last week.

This is how it looks at the end of this week. It is hard to tell the difference at a glance. As the sculpture gets refined, the gains will be ever more subtle.

This is how the clay looked when it was roughly applied over the armature.

The work this week focused on making improvements to the branches and leaves. The forms were refined and texture applied to the entire surface.

About mid week, I had a visit from Steve McMillen, who is a biologist for the State of Kentucky. Steve, Meg and myself gathered leaves from around the studio and discussed the attributes of real leaves and possible treatments of the clay leaves.

Thursday, I did some consulting work for Ted Rosky (right side of the photograph), who wanted to install a recently acquired 4,400 lb. Jade Tiger sculpture. Ted Rosky owns the original stone "Ely" (in foreground) that is one of Meg's best stone sculptures.

A few feet over from Meg's elephant is this detail 'fragment' of Frederick Hart's "Ex Nihilo". The complete sculpture of "Ex Nihilo" is on the western facade of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and is, in my opinion, the best sculpture in the United States.

While in town, we picked up our sculptures that were in the Kaviar Gallery monument show. Meg took this photo inside Craig Kaviar's blacksmith studio.

Other news includes the fact that our studio now has indoor plumbing!

This horse drawn caravan went down the road past our studio. (photos copyright Meg White)

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The main effort this week was packing clay onto the leaf armatures on the Tree of Life commission.

My original thought was to finish the branches and roots first, but I couldn't resist forming up leaves.

At this point, I've gotten into the 'groove' of making leaf pre-forms. (I'm dreaming about making leaves, while I sleep).

This is how the sculpture looked at the end of this week. All but a few leaves on the back side have been roughed in.

Friday evening, we went over to the Watertower location of the Louisville Visual Art Association.

I had promised Craig Sherman, a long-time friend and collector of my work, that I'd donate a piece to this year's art auction.

Then, it was over to Bellarmine College's art gallery to see the opening of Al Goreman and Scott Scarboro. Coincidentally, Al (who is back-to-back with his styrofoam guy) was exhibition currator at the Watertower for over 10 years. He and Scott filled the gallery space with form and color!

Saturday night, we were back in Louisville at the Bourbon's Bistro on Frankfort Avenue.

It was the 50th birthday celebration of our neighbor (and very good friend), Steve McMillen.

Steve likes coke.

Steve likes M&M's (well...anything with chocolate).

Meg and I spent most of our Saturday on this plaque for Steve and Alice's home that is on top of the cliffs behind our house. Making this plaque reaffirmed our position for not wanting to do hand lay-out and lettering. (It's not as easy as it looks, folks).
(all photos on this post copyright Meg White)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hand Sculpture Installed at Purdue University

The main event this week was the installation of my monumental sculpture "Man and Technology" on the campus of Purdue University.

Dereck Sheroan from JBB Inc. on Hardinsburg brought their new 23 ton crane to our studio on Tuesday and loaded the sculpture onto the rented flat bed truck.

As soon as we crossed the bridge into Indiana, we found ourselves in the middle of a convoy of classic cars.

We got a lot of 'double takes' as we drove up the road with the 7 foot tall hand. But, ours was not the only strange load going up the highway that day. This is a German WWII era tank at a rest stop.

"Are we there yet?" It was a very long day before we got to Lafayette, Indiana for the night.

Early the next morning, we went to Picket Park on campus. Meg took this detail shot of one of their "Astrogummies" while we were waiting for everyone to show up. One of Purdue's alumni took seeds of Sweet Gums to the International Space Station with him. This is from one of those well-traveled seeds.

Purdue provided this crane and an operator for the installation.

I moved the truck and sculpture into position. This photo shows the Penske rental truck that we use for major installations.

While the crane was setting up, Meg snapped this well composed picture that features one of the other sculptures in the park.

I rigged up the sculpture for the lift.

On the left is Tom Eisman, a Professor of Aviation and chairman for the visual arts committee. Tom was my contact for the entire project. He put in a lot of time and effort to see it come to fruition.

This is the finished sculpture in its new home.

An alternatate view...

...and another view.

While there, I checked on "Flourish", which I installed at Purdue over 5 years ago.

Tom invited us to also check out their new Butterfield sculpture in front of the art building. In the background is a very large bronze from Spain.

Between those two sculptures is a large, temporary installation of willow and red maple saplings. I enjoyed walking through the maze of forms - an intense amount of labor went into the piece. (all photos on this post copyright Meg White)

Sunday, September 4, 2011


This week's effort was focused on making roots for the Tree of Life commission,

I began by inscribing the design for the roots with a pointed wood tool. This is an orange wood stick of Meg's - it seems to work great with plastilene because the clay doesn't stick to orange wood oil.

I cut the background out with a loop tool.

Then, I just "get into the zone" and start forming roots. Sometimes, you can see improvements to make while it is in progress. Sometimes, you step back and realize that you got to change it, and do it over. It goes on and on...this is the progress on the back side.

This is how the front side looked at the end of this week.

Now, I've got to 'switch gears' and prepare for the installation of my hand sculpture at Purdue University next week. This is my biggest and most involved personal sculpture to date - and 'Anxiety' is the flavor of the week.

"Where is Steve?" The crane truck got some much needed T.L.C. It has a lot of heavy things to move this coming week.