Friday, June 28, 2013

I know I haven't been keeping my blog up, but sometimes things like making a living, staying caught up on commissions or even personal injury get in the way.

I got my left hand caught in a freight elevator door back on January 12 and as of today I only have 50 percent use of it.  This has slowed me down considerably with my business and forced me to rethink the way I sculpt and cast bronze.

I am finally getting caught up on some projects I fell behind on when I injured my hand and have started to design a new pouring set up that I can operate one handed.  I should have done this years ago but never thought I would not be able to pour due to loosing most of the use of one of my hands.

I look on the bright side, partial use of the hand is better than no use, but for a sculptor any loss  pertaining to the use of the hands is critical.

Adapt, Preserver. Conquer, and Overcome that which limits me!

Bre and Margaret helping me with the Panther sculpture, Margaret was being camera shy and is hiding behind the panther. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Economical Way to Pour Bronze

Recently I have had several inquiries from sculptors who want to experiment with pouring their own bronze using the lost wax process.  While ceramic shell is the best way to go it is also more expensive, I have a simple formula and method that works well for pouring in a plaster investment.

Mix equal parts molding plaster and 200 mesh silica flour by volume in a large bucket or container.  Dry mix these two ingredients well.  Gate and spru your wax pattern, hollow or cored wax works better for this method.  Build a wood box around your sprued pattern leaving at least 2 inches clearance on the sides and top.  Mount the wax pattern on a board pouring cup down, place the box over the pattern, use 1/4 inch hardware cloth and make hardware cloth box that fits just inside the wood box.  Make sure that the wire is not touching the pattern anywhere. Seal around the the bottom of the box with hot wax or hot glue.

Next we need to calculate the amount of plaster we will need to fill the box. Multiply the height x the width x the depth of the box, this will give you the cubic inches inside the box.  Divide the cubic inches by 26.7 (one pound of plaster mix fills 26.7 cubic inches), then divide that by 16 to get the pounds of plaster and silica mix you will need.


The box is 16 1/2 inches high by 6 inches wide by 6 inches deep (16.5 x 6 =99 x 6 = 594 divided by 26.7 = 222.4 divided by 16 = 13.9 pound of mix to fill the box.

Here is the water to plaster mix ratio;  100 parts plaster to 50 parts water, i.e 13.9 pounds of plaster mix and 6.95 pounds of water. Place the water in one  bucket and you plaster mix in another, Make sure your box is sitting level and is at a comfortable height for you to pour into.  Pour the plaster into the water and let is soak a minute, then slowly stir until no lumps are present, pour into your box, tap the sides to insure their are no air bubbles.  Let dry over night, the next day remove the wood box and allow to dry another 24 hours.  The mold may then be place in a bake out oven to  remove the wax, bring the heat up slowly to prevent cracking in the mold, I generally use an old electric kiln to bake this type of mold out.  I generally bring the kiln temperature up 40 degrees per hour until it reaches 1000 degrees, I hold it at 1000 for another 24 hours to insure all the carbon is baked out, at this point the mold is ready to be removed, set in sand and poured.

Note the cost of the plaster mix runs around 25 cents a pound and cost to run the kiln for two days is $15 making the total cost for the mold I just describe $19.

Hope this helps!



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Artists Struggle

It has been a few months since I posted anything, there has been little time for writing, just  beating the bushes trying to generate new business and income.  While many suggest the economy is improving those of us in the art world are seeing very few signs of any positive changes.  Not long ago if an artist were submitting for a public art project they might have had to only compete against 20 or 30 other artists, now artists find themselves having to compete with 200 or more artists for the project.

The economy has forced me to rethink my approach to selling art, putting one's art in a gallery and sitting back and waiting on sales is no longer a viable option for most artists. One now needs to spend time perfecting their resume and portfolio, clean it up, dress it up, make it shine and most important get it out where the public can see it.  Update your website, make it easy to navigate, show your best work and strive to take photos that do your work justice.

As artists we tend to procrastinate when it comes to the marketing end of the business but in an economy like the one we are in now one must take time to reinvent the wheel or at least make some major improvements to it so we can continue to roll along the path to success.

David Harris  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy Summer

Well it has been some time since I posted to the blog! It has been a busy summer with two monuments dedicated within three weeks of each other, the Rhode Island National Guard Living Memorial and Celebrating the life of Winthrop Paul Rockefeller. I have posted a few pictures of these here on the blog.

Buy American Made will be the next post and you can look for it in the next couple of days. Now I must bid you goodnight and work on some hardware casting for the Smithsonian.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due!

As a sculptor and a foundry owner I know what it takes to produce a good sculpture. There-in lies the issue. We often take photos of the process of creating a specific bronze and as a courtesy give a copy of these photos to the client on a CD. However when a client takes those photos and passes them off as their own, misleading the viewer into thinking that they (the sculptor) produced their own bronze, the Irish in me comes out.

Whenever we post photos of the casting process we always give credit to the sculptor whose bronze is shown in the photos. This is giving credit where credit is due! Since this issue has reared its ugly head twice this year we have started watermarking all our photos with a copyright and logo. Anyone is welcome to use any of our photos as long as we receive credit for the taking of the photos and/or production of the bronze if applicable.

When others rave about the quality of the sculpture it would be nice if the sculptor credited the foundry that produced the work, especially, (as in this last instance) if the sculptor could not find another foundry to turn their 16 foot masterpiece into bronze within their 9 week deadline.

The next thing will be to place foundry stamps on all works produced by us; those persons using our photos, taken at our facility and passing them off as their own will be put on notice. The Hosting URLs will be notified of infringement and illegal use of copyrighted material and asked that the photos be removed from their servers.

Think Twice before using someones photos improperly.

Use Our Photos - Give Us Credit!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Copyright Your Sculpture?

To Copyright or Not to Copyright your sculpture, that is the question! Recently I have been following issues regarding sculpture being copied, marketed and produced without any regards to the sculptors' copyright! Should sculptors go to the expense of copyrighting their works, the answer is a Definite Yes, for without a copyright in place you do not have a means of recourse if your work is illegally copied or reproduced. The task of pursuing a copyright infringement is a daunting one and will require the assistance of a Lawyer who specializes in the field, if the infringement is overseas then the process becomes even more complicated requiring legal services in that country also. Having a copyright on your sculpture will at least provide a chance for putting a stop to the infringement and the possibility of monetary compensation.

Here is a scary thought! If you do not copyright your work and it is copied and reproduced, that artist can file a copyright on the work and.............Here It Comes! Claim that you have violated his copyright suing you for copyright infringement!!

How to copyright your work!

1. Take good photos of your work from various angles.
2. Go online to the U.S. Copyright Office
3. Down load forms to submit by mail $45. or use the Electronic Copyright Office $35.
4. It only takes 15 minutes to submit your copyright electronically.
5. I advise taking the ECO Tutorial before starting to fill out the actual copyright!

What Sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul.” Joseph Addison

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Economy and Art

The question presented is how do artist survive when the economy goes south! Now we all know that art is a non essential luxury, mostly purchased by impulse buying from the general populace, while collectors make up the difference. When economic downturns arise tourism falls off and sales of art plummet! So how does an artist survive when art sales drop off?

Artist are resilient beings who can take the bumps and bruises that naturally come with the profession, but a depressed economy is hard for anyone to overcome. I have listed a few suggestions that have helped me through turbulent times in the past.

1. Rethink your market outlet, consider other venues to market you work. Look for shows that are free to participate in, look for events that tend to specialize in a field that your art genre falls into.

2. Go outside your normal box, create something that will cause a buzz, this usually will get you free press, be if brief but any publicity is good.

3. Target Galleries in areas whose economy is not as adversely effected as the one you are in.

4. Make your presence known! Most artist tend to look for other things to do during a downturn in art sales and tend to drop out of public view, this is a mistake that you do not want to make. Advertise your presence, attend any and all art related events, drop off portfolios to new galleries, look for venues where you can set up a one day one man show, donate some time to art related organizations. Stay in the public's eye and your chances of making a sale expand.

5. Now is the time to look around the studio take an inventory of the materials and supplies you have, what you can create without having to outlay any money. Keep creating, don't stop, use what you have at hand, try new mediums to produce art that you can market for less.

6. Be determined!! Don't give up, Stay true to what you do best!

These are just a few simple tips that have helped me through troubled waters before and that will help in the future, be persistent, be tenacious and most of all be an ARTIST!!!

"Art never expresses anything but itself." -Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 7, 2008

Upcoming Topics

We will discussing various topics directly concerning or related to sculptors, sculpture,within the State of Arkansas. We welcome input from sculptors from around the state, help us preserve, promote and place sculpture from Arkansas Sculptors throughout Arkansas!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Simple Tips for Preserving Outdoor Bronze Sculpture

Outdoor bronze sculpture can can retain its original look and luster by following a few simple preservation tips. The process described should be applied at least a once a year, preferably late summer before winter sets in, typically a day when the temperature outside will reach 90 degrees or higher.

The first step in the process is to throughly clean the bronze removing any dirt or foreign elements. This is a simple process and can be accomplished by first brushing off any loose dirt with a soft bristle brush, followed by a through washing with a mild dish washing detergent using a sponge and soft brush to scrub off stubborn stains. Once you have completed the clean up with soap and water rinse the entire sculpture throughly. Having rinsed the sculpture you now need to completely dry it, use an automobile sham or lint free towel to dry the major areas, a electric or gas powered leaf blower will do an excellent job of completing the drying. Allow the sculpture to warm up after the final rinse and drying, once the bronze has warmed up in the sunlight it is time to apply the wax. Renaissance Wax or Johnson Paste Wax are two good waxes for this.

Ideally the bronze should be heated and the wax applied to the hot bronze, however this is not always viable for the homeowner, and you don't want to scorch the surface of the bronze. This is where allowing the bronze to heat up naturally under the hot sun comes in for the average person. Once the bronze is warm take a hair dryer or hot air gun and heat the wax in the can until it starts to soften and melt. Here again the can of wax can be set out in the sun and allowed to heat up. Liberally apply a coat of hot wax over the entire sculpture, allow this coat to dry, buff lightly and then apply two more coats of wax to the sculpture, these coats can be applied cold. Using a soft rag buff the wax between each coat. This will protect your bronze sculpture for the upcoming year.

Every third year you need to have the sculpture professionally cleaned, and the old wax coatings removed, this prevents the sculpture from going darker due to the many coats of wax. The wax removal process uses chemicals that should only be handled by professionals.

Follow these procedures and your treasure will remain looking good for generations to come.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tips for Becoming a More Professional Sculptor

There are many talented sculptors throughout the United States who go unnoticed! This is not because of the lack of talent but mainly due to improper marketing. A sculptor must consider his or herself a commodity and market themselves thusly. I will hit a few of the high points that have helped me throughout the years.

First and foremost one must establish an icon, trademark, or logo to be used with all forms of media. It will take a while but eventually, that logo becomes associated with a particular sculptor, while the public may not remember the name a logo usually sticks in their memory. Using the logo on all correspondence, resumes, portfolios and proposals shows professionalism! Maintain the same theme throughout!

Resumes are equally as important, but how much and what do you need to put in is the question. We have several resumes made up each with different and varying information, depending upon what we are submitting the resume for dictates which resume we send. An example would be if you are submitting a proposal for a monument, the resume you use should contain information regarding past commissions that relate to the specific subject. Lets say you have sculpture commissions or works that you have done in the abstract field and works you have done that are figurative; the request for proposals is on a figurative sculpture so simplify the resume you are sending and only include works in the figurative field. More is not always good, sometimes less is best. You don't have to list every single exhibit you have been in pick out the most prestigious and list only those. Don't make the review committee have to dig to find important information, put your resume on a diet and only provide the basic necessary information. If you were applying for a position where your knowledge of sculpture was the key issue then you should submit a resume containing information relative to your art education background. include art courses and workshops . A good rule of thumb is to keep the resume to two pages.

One of the most important aspects of responding to a RFQ (Request for Qualifications) or an RFP (Request for Proposals) is to read and follow directions! When they request 10 copies unbound, don't stable them together follow instructions, when they request images in a specific format i.e. Tiff don't send JPG and vice versa. We sending in a proposal that has a specific deadline, make sure your proposal is in the mail in plenty of time to reach it's intended destination (allow for delays in the postal service). It is always a good idea to request a delivery receipt with signature verification, that way you know when it got there and who signed for it, just in case it gets misplaced (this has happened before and having proof of date and delivery were grounds for reconsideration).

Professionally made business cards are a must! Now you can do these on your own computer but by all means use the best quality card stock and quality printer. The same thing applies to brochures, we make our own (we don't save any money because we use high quality photo, scored brochure stock) but here again we are not stuck with a 1000 printed brochures with the wrong email, phone or address. We can change photos and any other information and print just what we need for a show etc.

Photographs are a must, never too many! Take good quality photos of your work from varying angles and in different lighting conditions, use what looks best. Be sure to save the original copy, unedited in a high resolution, you can resize and format from the originals time and time again. You may be required to send in an 8 x10 photo, if all you have is 4x6 it never looks good when you scale it up, so pull up the original and make a copy to the specified size.

Portfolios are excellent tools to have on hand at all times! We generally carry 5 or 6 copies with us whenever we are traveling, here is the scenario; you are visiting New York and you walk into a gallery that happens to be showing sculptors who are producing works in a style similar to yours. The best way to get them to even look at your work is simply ask if you might leave your portfolio for them to review at their leisure, you drop off a copy of your portfolio and walk out. They might throw it in the trash, they might look at it and send it back to you, they might even file it for future reference or BAM! they might even get back to you about representing your work.

It's late, I'm tired but I hope this information is of some help!
Don't hold typos against me, my proof reader is busy on her own blog so it stands as is.