Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Post # 3 of three: THE CRUCIFIX

     My good friend and genius engineer Jim Mouton had followed me home one day some years ago.  That is what happens when your name is plastered over the side of your truck.  He had wanted to meet me, had heard of me through friends in Porter Corners, where we both lived.  I think I told how Jim designed the Crucifix armature to have a plate bolted to the studio floor with a steel tube welded to it.  A slightly smaller steel tube fit into this and the armature super structure was welded to this.  The actual figure skeleton was a separate part that fit into three locations on the structure- two hands and one foot.  This allowed disassembly when the time came to mold the front AND back of the piece.
     When the sculpting was finished, the committee from New Jersey was invited to come and see the piece in order to approve before mold making and casting. This group of people was wonderful to work with. With the help of friends I winched the armature with clay attached up into the studio staircase in order to achieve the 14 foot height we would have. When the committee arrived the sun came into the studio and it was an incredible sight.  With minor changes it was decided to move ahead.
     All molding and casting were done right here, and I had complete control over the finished piece.  Bonded bronze was the material chosen, so it was a matter of painting the resin and bronze powder mixture into the mold.  This is of course more involved, with not only fiberglass in the layers, but steel tubing from hand to hand to facilitate strength.

     Tico Vogt made the crucifix itself.  They wanted a hand hewn look, and this is what we did.  Tico was great to work with, and he got some stares on the road from his shop to my place.

     The Crucifix was designed to be moved around the church to a number of locations, and the figure itself is removed for the Easter season.  I worked with the architects to install stainless steel tubes in the floor which were just slightly large than the tube we installed in the cross.

     This project was one of the most fascinating and rewarding things I have ever done.
As I think I have said, another copy of the crucifix was purchased by St. John the Evangelist Church in West Chester Ohio.  This time a local shop, friends I had met at a conference, built the amazing cross.  Maple with purple heart wood inlaid as an outline of the cross shape. The edition was planned to be six copies, but the mold failed after only three.  The #3 in the edition is here now waiting for a home. There will not be any additional copies.

     More very soon.  I may put off the Mary and Joseph posts to get in some sculpture (well, art) news. Please stay tuned!

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