Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hoyaneh in Bronze

"Haudenosaunee, (Iroquois) 'chiefs' are called 'Hoyaneh' and on their headdress they wear the antlers of symbolizes that the people depend on that leader like they depend on the deer for sustenance." **

It is with a feeling of pride and a deep sense of historic continuity that I present my first artistic expression rendered in bronze.

I am excited to see my conscious and sub-conscious ideas and passions melded together in this sculpture. This union of the artistry from the New World combined with the Old World tradition of bronze art manifests the mystique I have always felt for our ancient world and the whole of human history.

This sense of reverence and appreciation for historic cultures began when I was five years old the moment I found a beautiful stone arrowhead. It was lying in a patch of dirt, surrounded by grass as though it had been framed for my personal education. I was so young that I'm not even sure I had ever actually seen a real Indian arrowhead before but I instantly knew what it was and I had a feeling then that the land upon which I lived held many mysteries from the past. It was a magnetic moment; the past was drawn forward into my time. It remains one of the most indelible memories from my childhood. And to this day, I want to pull the past forward by bringing it into the future through expressions of contemporary art.

For this first venture into bronze, I decided to create a very limited number of sculptures -- only six, plus the "artist's proof." By utilizing the ancient "lost-wax" casting technique, every minute detail and grain texture of the original burl-wood carving has been captured and translated into each bronze sculpture. I have learned that it is rather unique to cast a bronze from an original carving made from a lasting and precious material. Most castings are traditionally made from impermanent materials such as clay or wax. I chose to custom patinate each bronze myself in order to create a unique coloration that most closely resembles the character of the rare black ash burl.

Although they are cast from the same mold, each bronze is unique in many subtle ways. As with the original Hoyaneh burl-wood carving, (see July 31st 2010 blog entry) I have attached real deer antlers in the same manner as the early European artists who incorporated organic materials such as ivory and various metals to accent their bronze sculptures.

Each bronze is adorned with a pair of handmade sterling silver ball & cone style earrings hanging from the stretched earlobes. I did not randomly select this style of earring. Ball & cone earrings are a very ancient design and they were a favorite trade item of Native Americans, worn by both men and women. The "ball & cone" is also the overall geometric theme of this sculpture.

My sculptural bronze works are available exclusively through Lord Nelson's Gallery Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

My most sincere appreciation goes out to John and Shannon Watts for their support of my work, their enthusiasm toward my inspirations, and their encouragement to help me see this project through. I would also like to thank Thomas Poyser and staff artists of SinCerus Bronze Art Center for their talent and advice. Lastly, thanks to Patrick Kipper, master patineur and author of "the book" on bronze patina.

It is all about the process. Everything is a process.

** Quote of what a Hoyaneh represents by Michael Galban.


It's a hot July day in Indiana, not just hot...humid. Here I am; long sleeves, trousers, apron, rubber gloves, mask. I've been at this for hours. The gas mask is percolating with my own humidity. The air is toxic with fumes from Cupric and Ferric acid generated from the propane torch that roars in my head like a jet taking off...and I am in bliss.

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to create bronze castings of my burl work. My burl carvings are so time consuming and the burl so scarce that I wanted to see if these sculptures of mine would translate well into bronze. The castings have far exceeded my original expectations....and so has the effort required to make it happen. A year ago, I was totally ignorant of the bronze casting process. I had never given much thought as to what the process, the effort required. My ignorance was probably a good thing...what is that old saying about fools go where others fear to tread?

The foundry that made the castings for me could not apply the patina I desired due to safety concerns with the toxic chemicals of the formula I selected. I wanted the bronze to appear as much like the original burl carvings as possible. I was left with only one choice, learn as much about the process of bronze patina as I could as quickly as I could. Again, here treads a fool....but I've discovered something of myself. If I'm not learning something, I'm bored.

Not to bore you with all the details, the process of patina went like this;
Buy a book. Consult the experts. Order the equipment. Choose a patina formula. Order the chemicals. Create a work space. Bone up on chemistry. Experiment. Practice.
Take a leap of faith. Slow down. Concentrate. And some days, the magic works.

I'll post images of the finished bronze soon.