Thursday, November 13, 2014


There's nothing more interesting to people than the human figure. Another person, or a sculpted figure in the landscape, gets first and sustained notice.

Ron Rudnicki, 1990
Boston Globe photo/David Ryan 
In the summer of 1990 the Department of Environmental Management's Arts-in-the-Parks program sponsored a two-week granite carving residency for Ron Rudnicki at Halibut Point. Working by direct carving - without first making a model  - Ron brought forth what he called a "medieval figure" from the stone. He used pneumatic as well as hand tools. 
Granite sculpture, Halibut Point
In the back-and-forth between carving and contemplation Ron sought areas "to look like a blend of rough, knocked-off chips and the folds of a robe, with the gesture of anatomy underneath." The piece retains a prominent and brooding presence to this day. Over the years it has developed a weathered and lichened patina that contribute to its venerable air.

Fitting clay maquette of "Prometheus"
to aperture in granite
I wanted to bring a life-giving story to some of my own granite pieces. Working in metal offered finer detail than was possible in stone. I envisioned Prometheus appearing triumphantly with stolen fire to present the Olympic torch to mankind.
Furnace at Mystic Valley Forge
Since I intended to make only one bronze copy, a sand casting was the practical and economical method of fabrication. Mystic Valley Forge in Somerville accepted "my baby" reassuringly and in a couple of weeks returned the final figure ready for inclusion in the stone.

The "Victory Garden," 2008
I had an opportunity to display "Prometheus" at the 2008 Gloucester Home and Garden Show. The exhibit honored community contributors on Trophies in "The Victory Garden."

Clay maquette for "Exuberance"
Making life-like figures can be addictive. As you work the clay, deepening your appreciation of the beautiful whole, you sense the path of the Creator. 

What could be lovelier than a female figure? I searched for how exactly the limbs should be proportioned and oriented. It began to clarify as I got closer to the simplest energy flow, the perfect economy of mass and motion that generates a natural gesture.  

Pouring molten bronze
New England Sculpture Service, Chelsea
The potential for multiple bronze copies is best approached through the lost-wax method, which involves (1) making a latex mold of your model that can be used repeatedly to create (2) wax replicas of the figure, each of which can be encased within a (3) ceramic mold for the casting, into which (4) the molten bronze is poured, displacing the wax which exits through a vent. After cooling the ceramic mold is broken away to reveal your treasure. A patina can be induced chemically or allowed to develop over years of exposure to weathering.

Crane Estate, 2011
In adding this vital spirit to the stone I sought to recognize not just a contrast but a relationship of elements. Organic and inorganic forms have vastly different time cycles but substantiate a cosmos of One.

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