Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tomorrow Evelyn Goes Home

It has been a while in between posts, but tomorrow we will be bringing the Evelyn sculpture to the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.  She may be home, but she will be standing somewhere out of site until the plaque is ready and plans have been made for installation. It won't be long now. Pictures to come.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A completion of a bronze

The sculpture is heated and
chemicals are applied to
produce the appropriate
color of a traditional patina
After about three metal checks the sculpture finally meets my approval for patination.  It is once again sand blasted and the  patination is applied.  To get the color or patina the foundry man heats up the bronze with a torch and applies different chemicals. Often at this point I cannot tell what the sculpture will look like complete with the wax covering. So the foundry man wets the sculpture down with a hose.  This gives the same appearance of the waxing process.  The final process is a coat of hot wax.

Now on to figuring out installation.  According to the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center they are having an event called the maccabie conference. It begins august 5th and goes to the 10th. I'm not sure why we can't install it now, as the sculpture will be there for the up and coming conferences, but they have asked us to wait. So, I expect installation at the end of August.  More on the installation and unveiling of Evelyn.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Only the artist gets to draw on a bronze!

I was thrilled to be called into the foundry today to see the progress of Evelyn. She is well on her way to being complete for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.  Unfortunately they are having a major event at the ERJCC so we will not be able to install her until the middle/end of August.

These are the things I look fro when I go to the foundry for a metal check
  • Does each piece look the way I sculpted it?
  • Are there any metal burrs that need to be removed?
  • Does the texture match my texture where it has been welded?
  • Do her hands look natural in their placement on her body. 
  • How do all appendages look?
  • Are there any holes or things that need to be fixed?
I walk around the sculpture and mark it with a marker. The foundry man will come back in and fix the things I request.  She is so close. Next post will be about the patination or the final color of Evelyn. 

Moved into the light I examine Evelyn closely

Yes, I do scribble on bronze.  I do not endorse such behavior,
Unless of course, you are the artist. 

I hope others will interact with Evelyn when
she is placed.

Such lovely hands. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Poor Evelyn

I sure hate to see Evelyn this way. Not only is she in pieces, but she has welds all over her. I trust in Miguel at Betz Art Foundry. His work is impeccable. She will soon see Evelyn back together. I hate posting the picture with her with the strap around her neck, but we don't want her to fall over and she is not welded to her base yet. I want to be sure she is going to stand properly so we tack on the arms and check her attitude! She does stand with an attitude and I want to be sure it is there.
The foundry men prepare to put Evelyn on 
her base. 
There are so many piece of Evelyn.  I have perfected the 
sculpting and the wax and then see what a mess the process
creates.  Not to fear, the foundry man at Betz foundry is 
incredible. We will have Evelyn back together in no time at all. 

I'm checking and rechecking the pieces to be sure
that everything is going to fit.  I'm very picky. 

If you remember the wax pour you might have seen that 
this part of Evelyn's hand was cut away in the gating
of Evelyn's hand.  I'll be checking closely to be sure this 
looks perfect before my client sees it.  

I hate to see the strap around her neck, but how else can she 
stand up?  O.k Miguel you better match my texture.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The pouring of bronze for the Evelyn sculpture.

This entire process is pretty cool, but watching bronze being poured into the shells, well that is something. Photographs don't really do this part justice, so I have uploaded a video of that part of the process.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dipping the pieces of Evelyn

The many pieces of Evelyn awaiting dipping. 

First dip on Evelyn's hand
I ran by the Betz Art Foundry today after receiving a message on my phone. "We are dipping." Dipping is the next part in the bronze process.  Before the foundry could dip they had to gate up each of the pieces.  The waxes need pour cups to pour metal into and gates that will help the gasses escape. Each piece is coated and dipped many times covering both inside and out.  This creates a ceramic shell.  The ceramic shell is where the bronze will be poured, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Next post the burn out and pour of Evelyn Rubenstein.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What now?

I'm working on the few waxes that are here and I expect to receive a call from the foundry that the others are ready. If I am lucky then by the end of the week the foundry will have all of the waxes and they will begin the pouring process of Evelyn.  It is so exciting. For the time being, in between working on waxes, I'm resting my hands and preparing for a meeting when I bring back the photograph of Evelyn.

Oh yes, it took us two days to get the studio cleaned up and it is ready for the next project.

The next step- waxes

Once all of the molds are at the foundry, they pour waxes.  For every mold there will be a hollow think wax created.  Because I finished the arms, head and base these are sent back to me first.   What do I do with these?  The wax stage is one more opportunity to add detail, and clean things up.  Remember the rubber molds were in to parts and so there is also the cleaning of seams.   Once I feel I have all of the pieces clean and that they go together correctly, we will start our process of bronze casting.

The wax arm showing the ring still sitting in the mold.

This is the base that Evelyn Sits on.
I have signed the bottom.
Evelyn will be welded to this base.
The base will then be secured to the
floor of the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish
Community Center. 

The wax head of Evelyn. Still showing the pour cup.

Mold making

Sculpture is cut apart in many pieces.
I like that I can work on the area under
the skirt.
 The mold making process is often done by the foundry.  However, I create my own molds. It takes about 2 weeks of time and is very labor intensive.  I'm thankful for the interns and helpers who have come to assist in the last two weeks of mold making.  My husband kept coming down from his clean office and watching me tug, lift and pull and just shakes his head.  My interns say it is better and more physical than working out in the gym.  The mold making process consists of several steps
clay is used as a pour cup on the arm. 

1. Cutting up- This was already mentioned in an earlier post
2. Claying up- In this part of the process the mold is divided into two halves with clay seams. Pour cups are also added to the mold- This offers a place for the foundry to pour the wax.
3. Painting Rubber- Once the pieces are cut, cleaned and clayed up the rubber is painted on both halves of the sculpture.  Four plus coats are used on each piece. It takes about an hour for the rubber to dry in between coats.
4. Mother mold- the mother mold is called that because it is placed on top of the rubber mold and holds the rubber in place.  Without it, when someone tried to pour wax into the mold the mold would be miss shapen.  Creating the mother mold is hard work.  A very stiff plaster/cement is mixed for each half. I mix my plaster by hand.  It takes about 40 minutes for each half of the mother mold.  Everyone of the molds that I made had at least 2 mother molds- front and back. The chest had three because it was so large.

The legs and two parts of the skirt sit drying after the many
coats of rubber. 

After the rubber is dry, Evelyn's head must have a mother
mold of plaster a  This is a two part process
and very, ver messy.  Good weather means
I can make the mess outside.

Once the mold is complete the clay is taken out of the
rubber and the mold is cleaned.  

The other mold and clay mold of the arm cleaned and ready
to be sent to the foundry . 

Monday, May 14, 2012

How do I stay focused while in the studio?

Thought I would share this little tidbit. I stay focused by....

I love audio books.  
Listening to audio books.  I'm pretty much addicted to audio books and have a regular relationship with my library.

My stinky old dog
The pond is a place to go to stretch my bones and
watch nature for a moment.
I also have the company of a very faithful, yet somewhat stinky old dog.  And when I need a break I head outside my door and hang out watching the turtles at my pond.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Now for the next part of the process- Mold making

The sculpture is divided into 8 pieces. 
Once the approval is received, I then begin the next step. Even though I have spent hours painstakingly putting in all of the texture and detail, I must now cut up the sculpture.  In the end there will be molds made of the following.
1. left arm
2. right arm
3. toros
4. head
5. two parts of skirt
6. left leg
7. right leg
8. base

Adding detail and making things as clean as possible
is the result of cutting things apart and being able
to look at all sides without standing on your head. 
The best part of cutting the sculpture apart is that I can work on the detail so much easier.  For example, I work on the detail on the underside of the hands.  This means that all though I have approval I still am spending an entire week on making parts as perfect as possible. While working on the hands, I found some chord and was able to make a better wedding ring, and give Evelyn a manicure.
Pieces of Evelyn are everywhere

Friday, May 11, 2012

The changes that were made

The work station
Here is the larger photograph that was provided that had so much more visual information.  I separated the head from the body more time, so that I could really get close to it. Someone asked me how many times I have done this in the process?  I have no idea, too many times to have kept count.  The reason why I do this is that having a head in my lap is much easier than trying to sculpt while it is attached.  I changed some things on the sculpture like the  eyes, and tweaked the smile I also elongated her neck.

Adding movement to the legs
I also worked hard on the legs. I thought it important to give the sculpture a little more movement.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Client Approval

Clients kick back while taking in Evelyn
I know some artists might not like client input- I LOVE IT!  I really do.

It is at this point when we are pushing the creative process to the very limit.  I love co-create with my client.  

The interesting thing about this creative approval is that the client brought the photograph that you see on the right of this page, but it was a bigger version.   Why would this matter?  Well there was so much more visual information on the larger photograph. Good photographs cannot be overemphasized when trying to create.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Approval of the sculpture.

I have not posted anything in the last couple of weeks and have done so on purpose. I wanted my client to come by and see the sculpture themselves.  I am happy to report they are very happy with the outcome, which I will post soon.  Just a bit more tweaking and then you will be able to follow the process of going through the foundry. More to come soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Compare, compare, compare

This is what I do all day long. I compare one part to another and reference photographs to sculpture. This can be hard because the reference I have is little, both in size and amount.  I mean trying to figure out what someone looks like by using a picture that is less than one inch is, at best, a challenge.

Plus you are looking at a two dimensional element and trying to create something in 3d.  Still, I compare.

My comparisons of late.

  • I have been working on the head separate from the body. I put it on and found that I needed to take off about 1 inch of hair and lower her hair line for it to fit the body. There is nothing worse than creating a perfect head and a perfect body and put them together to find they are not in proportion. 
Today I get to cut off her head and work on it separately again.  I like the size of the neck, the placement and proportions and I am very tired of sculpting upside down and on the ground. Working on the head at my desk will be a welcome challenge. 
  • Legs, shoes, stature.  I look at my own legs often and then at Evelyn's and wonder about her proportions. I have committed to the length of the skirt, just below the knee is perfect. 
  • She is sitting back, someone said, is it too much, absolutely not. It is an attitude.  She is confident, she is assured, she has great posture, ( I'm so jealous as I do not).  I love the stance. 
  • Sweater-  Folds are everything.  I can't talk about this right now as it is a pain in my side. I'm going to fix this, which may mean, redoing the sweater entirely.  
  • Weight on legs.  I like that one heel is up just a bit. She stands back hard on the left leg.  I like this.  

Sometimes it is all about becoming more friendly. I become more friendly with the piece and it becomes more friendly to the viewer.  This is what it means to search for Evelyn. 


I spend a good deal of my time, taking off clay and putting it on.  Because I have the foam armature I am also digging out foam, covering it with wax, then clay and smoothing.

The reference photographs are scattered.

With that said, I spend a good deal of time, scraping the floor, my shoes and having to clean the studio.  It is a mess, but mess, means I have progress.

Monday, March 5, 2012

No comments please, well yes, but no.

I have had several people come to my studio for various reasons and without being asked, have offered their suggestions on Evelyn.  I realize that though I am keeping this blog and have kept others on my process it is really a solitary job. The comments I receive from those who see it on facebook are things like, it is coming along or WOW or things like that.  But having comments on the piece in my studio or about the structure of a piece, before I am really ready to show it is a bit frustrating.  It is kind of like cleaning your closet and taking everything out and organizing it and having someone walk into your room and say, "Wow, this is a disaster."

I think  that the process of creating an entire human form is huge.  I jump around from head to feet, to in between, back to feet and legs and, step back and see so many things, and make a list and then try to focus and them put things together and look and make more lists. My clients may be watching from afar, but it is in no way shape or form ready to review.   I will appreciate the comment from those that I trust, when I'm ready, but until then... My closet is a disaster, but I'm getting there.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Laying down on the job.

So, you could say I have spent the last two days on the floor of the studio.  How else are you going to sculpt ankles and legs? Pillows are thrown about as I try to crawl around and sculpt, then stand up and go to the other side of the room to look, and then back down on the ground.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Working diligently- thumbs up and a comparison smile!

Though Evelyn is not scheduled to be delivered for quite some time, I'm working diligently to get ahead of my deadline and I am making very good progress.
I love stepping back and looking from a distance
Sweater is almost done, shirt is done, skirt is
roughed in and hands are placed. Still working
from the top down. Already see changes that
need to be done to what I have done already. 
Although I have a very good foam armature, there are so
many modifications that are made to it. The placement of the
right thumb baffles me at first. 

Sometimes you must look at the context of something
to see its proper placement. Severe modifications to the
sweater are made.

The head is created seperately. Here I step back and compare
proportions in the face to those of the photograph.  But doing
This from one side can be misleading.
 I need to do this from the side as well. Oh, and I have to keep
putting the head on the body. There is nothing more infuriating
than to have a perfect head and perfect body that are not in
proportion to one another.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thinking about all that you have touched.

How much does one life play against another? How has Evelyn influenced those that have been in her life?  It is very interesting to think about. I sculpt her hands and think of her children's hands that held hers, the work that she did, the things she learned. Did she like to get her hands dirty, work in the garden?  How about holding the hands of her grandchildren.

I'm noticing her hands, they are as much a part of her personality as her face is.  They seem strong, not necessarily slender and delicate.  They remind me more of my own.

As I work on Evelyn's hands and look at her nails I am reminded I have gone back to wearing nail polish, not as an influence of Evelyn, but due to the fact that I am working so often in the clay it is almost impossible to get all of the dark brown clay out from under my nails.

Evelyn's shirt is complete. I like it, her waist band on her skirt is complete. I want to move to the sweater, but first I must place her hands, place them on her hips in this wonderful pose.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming together

Pieces coming together.
The sculpture has been coming together.  I have put the legs on with my sculpted high heels. I was afraid they would get splattered with clay and foundry wax and so I have given Evelyn some tinfoil slippers. The skirt was shortened, and this means some work will need to be done with the legs, but I have decided to work from the top down.  The entire sculpture is covered with foundry wax and then with clay.  A former student who has come to learn mold making helps me by covering the rest of the sculpture with clay.  When I see the skirt and most of the sweater covered with a thin layer of clay the sculpture becomes more intimate to me. I have only worked on the detail of the blouse adding depth and clay. The foam armature, though very helpful still needs adjusting and I often cut into it, put wax upon the foam opening and then more clay.
The clay coated sculpture feels more friendly.

Details of blouse

Friday, February 17, 2012

Putting my best foot forward.

I guess I'm starting from the ground up.  Or putting my best foot forward.  I had the foam legs and feet with heels on and thought it might be good to start here. I found a pair of my own high heels as reference and have been sculpting for the last few days.  It is funny to have the feet almost done and the rest of the body has not been started.

There are other motives for sculpting the  the feet off of the main body of the sculpture.  I have worked on them for about 2 days and it is much easier having them on a table than to be scrunched down on the floor.

working on feet that are detached 

Now that they are done I have wrapped them in saran wrap to prevent any foam from getting on them when I put the entire piece together.  I have created a pipe armature that will enter Evelyn's back.  This way the weight of the sculpture does not have to set entirely on the foam legs and ankles.  It would be great if there was a pipe going through her leg and heel, but I'm not sure that can work.  I can't wait to put the foam pieces together and see her as a whole.  First, to hem that skirt a bit.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Photographs of the milling of Evelyn

Synappsys Digital Services sent me photographs of the milling of Evelyn. I'm including them here so others can see. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sculpting foam-getting connected with a sculpture

Digital Sculpture and processes with Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Carving depth into the foam 
I am so excited to have my foam pieces created by Synappsys Digital Services so that it will expedite my process of creating the sculpture of Evelyn Rubenstein for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.  There is still some work to do on the foam before I can cover it with clay. I can revise the piece and create deeper cuts into the sculpture.  This give the sculpture depth.  I love the sweater that Evelyn is wearing in this piece and I can hardly wait to put the texture into it in the end, but that is a long way off.

Digital Sculpture and processes with Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Covering foam pieces with hot foundry wax.
My foam has been put together and now I must carve and sand. Carving is easy as the foam is like butter.  However,  this is a dirty job requiring masks and a nearby shop vac, but it is not nearly as bad as the carving process of the 11 foot panther for Prairie View A & M.  This is an intimate time with the piece, I can feel more connected.  

Once I feel that I have carved or sanded a piece as much as necessary I cover the foam pieces with hot foundry wax.  This is so that the grit of the foam does not get into my clay. I'm amazed at what a tactile person I am, having grit in my clay makes me a rather irritated sculptor.  My sense of touch is disrupted.  Therefore the wax coating, and continuous vacuuming is necessary.


Pulling pieces together-Part of the sculpting process.

Digital Sculpture and processes of the creation of the EVelyn Rubenstein Sculpture with Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Yes, believe it or not this will be Evelyn. 
Digital Sculpture and processes with Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Using a bit of water on the foam helps with the curing
process. I try to keep the foam away from the edges as
dried spray foam on the cured foam is annoying at
later steps
If you have been following this blog on the Evelyn Rubenstein Poject you have seen how the 3d image was created in the computer and then sent to Synappsys Digital Service for milling. This gives me my armature.  However the foam armature comes to me in pieces. Now I must put these together. I do this using Spray foam and secure the pieces with skewers.  Some pieces I might not put together yet, such as the arms/hands. I may want to play with their placement a bit after the clay is put on the armature.

Digital Sculpture and processes with Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Repairing the fingers by using hot wax as glue
Digital Sculpture and processes with Houston, Texas sculptor Bridgette Mongeon
Putting together a foam
torso and shoulders
However, I feel confident in putting together the skirt with the bodice and I can begin to see how she is coming together.  The hands are very fragile and I also attach broken fingers and sand the foam.  We are a long way from completing the sculpture, but I'm excited to get my hands dirty and I look forward to meeting Evelyn in the process. __________________________