Friday, June 30, 2006


Today was a busy day.

First Jennifer pin pricked a Xerox copy of Lucas’ tea shirt so that we could transfer the image into the wax. I was grateful for her young eyes. When she is done I will carve it out of the wax. The pattern will then show up in the metal.

Later I had her working on Dick’s hands. They start with wire and then carefully Jennifer added clay for me until she had fingers formed. She seemed to enjoy the process. I showed her how to tip the underside of the fingertips upward, and then how to make knuckles. Later I’ll work on the hands myself. Dick Hathaway had big hands so I want to be sure that I have the correct size. Time to review the video clip again.

Frustrated with the body I asked Jennifer to hold Dick’s head near the torso so I could see the design of the entire piece.
She is such a great apprentice, such a hard worker and great attitude. She held it up and then I took pictures. Then I put his head back on the stand.

With frustration surfacing again I Later decided to actually secure his head to the body. I rarely do this until the bust is complete and the torso is complete. Later I will take it off again to work on the details of his face. It is roughed in enough so that I can work on the body and get an overall picture. In just a couple of weeks Dick is coming to life!

I sort of freaked inside of myself when rolling around on my stool and looking up at the sculpture. From a certain angle I saw my deceased grandfather. I mentioned something to Jennifer, she said sitting at her angle she saw her deceased great-grandfather who was a sculptor. I laughed and said, “Maybe they are all here helping.”

I Need Continuing Bonds!

It has come to my attention that I am both client and artist. I miss Dick Hathaway and my beloved professor, Charlotte Hastings who started this project with me. I am both the artist that looks for the inspiration in the words and the client who wants to talk and celebrate their lives.


One of the elements that this commission lacks is personal contact. Because the process of sculpting Dick consists of raising money for casting and my donating the sculpting it is of a different nature than most of my other work. There are no loved ones that I can contact on a regular basis and talk with. I am beginning to see how much this is an important element of the process of sculpting the deceased. Those that are left behind are my inspiration. I draw on their love and energy to bring the work of art to life. They are mixed within the clay.

I loved e mailing Jeanine’s mom on a regular basis. Sometimes she would just send me stories, or writings and when the packages would come with video or tape recordings I was elated. I was able to celebrate her child with her. That is a tremendous part of the process. As I learned last semester as I studied this process it is also quiet healing for my clients. Where else can they go where they can continually talk about their loved one? Many times in our Western culture we are encouraged to “move on”. There is a wonderful book called Continuing Bonds by Phyllis R Silverman, that states that continuing bonds with the deceased is not only healthy but should be encouraged. That is what I do, I help my clients to continue bonds. Together through their love we create, and there is really no better way to express love than to create. The sculpture is not an idol to hold up on a pedestal but an actual and physical manifestation of the continuing bonds, the love. I am so blessed to be able to do this..

I do wish others who knew Dick would write, or send pictures. Maybe I’ll watch the video again, but this creativity it is not from just within me, it is somehow attached to those who knew and loved the person. I need more of that right now. It is truly my inspiration.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Workstation

I thought I might share a photograph of my workstation. There are several in the studio, but this is where I work on the bust of Dick Hathaway. My wonderful chair is my daughters Fisher Price high chair. I really must write them some day and tell them how great this chair is. Not only is it a great height, but it often lets me know when I am getting too wide in the hips. I have had it 21 years!

The photographs of Dick are spread out on the typewriting cart. Another very useful piece of furniture that is great in the studio. The pan is filled with hot clay that is replaced by the clay in the crockpot. The little marble slab lets me take some out and allow it to cool. There are always plenty of tools around in containers that will contain them. Jennifer will soon have a tin of different, heavy-duty tools hanging around the torso. The black case holds Dicks glasses when they are not being used.

Dick’s bust has wire that is forced into the pipe at my workstation. This pipe that the bust fits into is actually the top of my armature stand turned upside down. One of those things I found in a pinch and now it works for every portrait. The torch is nearby to heat up the bust should I need it, and I often do. I have a smaller torch that I use when I get closer to finishing the sculpture. But I have no need of that for at least another week.

Rolling Around Dick

Last night I sat on my rolling gardening stool at Dick’s feet and began to look at the armature in an entirely different way. I noticed earlier while Jennifer was putting clay on the piece, it was hard to keep my hands off of it. I feel possessed, in a way. The creative and artistic person in me grabs the knife and I cut off an inch here add clay there.

Even in the afternoon I turned to Jennifer and asked where the armature now deep beneath foam and clay was welded. I instructed her to cut off the clay and foam and then I picked up the grinder and ground off pieces of rebar here, took the reciprocating saw and began to change the design, modest changes but changes all the same.

There is a knowing. I don’t know if this is an intuitive knowing as I know anatomy and this needs to go here and that there. Sometimes I feel like I am just a part of a process that is already done. The sculpture of Dick Hathaway already exists someplace else and I am no different than the clay or armature. I am just a part of the process. My mind jumps around elbow, to thigh, leg to shoulder. Certainly this must be attention deficit disorder.

I get frustrated when I misplace a tool for a second, “the knife I must cut where is the knife, and the torch this must come down, where is the torch?” My mind is going a mile a minute. I was going to try and do much of this while Jennifer was there so I could say, “Add about two inches here.” But I don’t know if she would be frustrated with me. I add, I take away, I add again, sometimes in the same spot or close to it. I’m working on Dick’s right side, but I must take all of Dick in, right side, top bottom left side, back. Jump around to make sure that it looks like it goes together. We have a long way before we are finalizing details.

I think of the shoes. I went to a thrift store to look for some shoes. Didn’t find the sneakers that I wanted. I’m going to go back. They won’t be Dicks but they are real and I can copy them. I love it when the sculpture seems to morph from the feet upward.

Today the foundry called. The waxes of Lucas are ready for pick up. Jennifer came along with me to have a tour of an art foundry. Upon returning we put Lucas on the table, in pieces ready for Miguel, my other apprentice to work on them. Some day Dick will be in this same shape. I look forward to that day, because that means that we have raised the $9,000. That is needed to finish this project.

We are still beating the torso into shape. Reciprocating saw, torch, bending this adding here taking off there taking and adding until we find Dick’s Torso.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Emotion Through All Of the Senses?

This weekend after Sunday school some of the ladies invited me to lunch. I rarely get to attend these extra outings as I am so busy with school and work, but I felt I could go.

One friend had a box of items wrapped in a Hallmark bag. I noticed her neatly folding the bag over box in a ritualistic way.

She saw my intrigue.

Inside the box were letters that have been in her family for years. They were from the civil war.

Immediately upon opening the box I asked her if I could touch them. Carefully I took them out and observed the paper, the handwriting, and the words. I felt myself being swept away from the table at Piccadilly cafeteria into a vacant space. I desperately wanted to go away quietly with these letters into a place where I could be alone. “How strange.” I thought. After all I did not even know these people, why would this be so important to me?

I did feel that if I could be alone with them “feelings” images, flashing pictures would come to my mind that would make no sense to anyone else, and they would probably not even make sence to me but it would be a movie that I would have liked to have seen, something that in the space and time of Piccadilly cafeteria I felt deprived of. “I can make copies for you if you like,“ My fellow parishioner had said. But it was these old papers that I wanted to be with. I felt drawn to them.

After arriving home I thought about the experience. This empathic thing is not something that happens in one sense, but seems to involve all of my senses. I absorb the emotions of the people by touch, vision and smell. I hear the words of the loved ones. In spring when I was alone in Dick Hathaway’s office I came across his tie. Without thinking I smelt it. And then held it to my chest. In the same way that perhaps one cherishes the shirt of their deceased lover. Writing about it feels strange. When Jeanine’s personal affects came her shirt was in the box. Come to think of it I did this same thing with her shirt that I did with Dick's tie and I smelt Lucas’ shirt.

Alone time….

I am avoiding the studio. Jennifer is there working on the Torso of Dick and Miguel is there working on the wax of Jeanine. I want to be alone with Dick to watch the images and feel the flood of emotions, Nancy, Ruth, Maida, Charlotte, Victor, Susan. To hear the words of each individual play in my head.

To talk to Charlotte while I work, if I feel so inclined.

The emotion in the clay and this process is a total sensory thing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Emotion Mixed In The Clay

Jennifer has been at the studio today, once again putting clay on the armature. I laughed at myself this weekend thinking about how funny an armature looks in the beginning and how I will most likely have to beat it into submission. I want to get to work at putting the clay on the torso but I’ll let Jennifer do that. My job is to get going on the bust.

As I sit down to work on Dick I hear the voices of some of the other professors like Charlotte and Maida telling me about Dick. While at residency last spring I asked Maida about how Dick would sit. She approaches each answer cautiously but with such sincerity, love and admiration. I wonder can I kneed and massage those things into the clay? The love? It is exactly those types of encounters that I count on in capturing the deceased. I pull from the memories of those who knew and loved the one who is no longer here.

Thoughts of Charlotte come up. Sometimes I feel like she is there sculpting with me, or hanging out in the studio.

Luckily, with this commission, I have the added benefit of actually meeting Dick Hathaway. There is only one other man I have ever met in my life who had such charm, who was so totally endearing. It has to be over 20 years ago now. I was in Boca Raton and started to sculpt in the sand. The sand seemed so temporary. I did not have to worry about anyone approving my artwork. In the morning after the tide came it would be gone. Of course I sculpted people. While on this vacation I was introduced to a woman who had a bust of her deceased husband. I was so enthused by it. I had never really sculpted before and I wanted to know how it was done. ( I did create a bust of Christ in junior high and an elephant in grade school ) At this time in my life, 20+ years ago, I was working in the advertising industry and also painting. I had also been studying a great deal about creativity. I felt stifled as an artist and wanted to know why.

Peter Peach was the name of the man with all of that charm and charisma that Dick reminds me of. I had heard about him. Something about how creative he was and how he once had this great idea years ago about putting movies on TV, but the television people said, “Who would want to watch a movie on TV?” He also was one of the originators of the Bullwinkle Cartoon. He and his wife had been watching me sculpt in the sand as they stood on their balcony. When we finally met he looked at me very firmly and said. “You have a great talent, you must go forward with it.” At the time I had no idea it would be sculpting. I came home found some books and taught myself how to sculpt. It was amazing the first time I did. I felt so at home. Somehow Peter Peach knew something I didn’t. 20+ years later, here I am sculpting.

The clay that I am working with right now is nothing, a blob to some people; I take my knife and begin to carve away at the skull shape. Even though there is nothing of any resemblance, I can feel Dick. I slip his glasses on the shape and quickly add some ears and more of a nose. (I have added tape to protect to the lenses of the glass) The piece does not feel correct until I continue to add a neck and then a bit of a collar. The collar helps me to be able to compare the photographs of him with the clay. I'll take it off later. I am using many of the composite photographs from the video. Even at this stage I find myself talking to the clay, jokingly, I say, “Wear are you Dick?”

I think about the age of the man as I add the neck wattle and notice the sagging cheeks. I have several photographs of Dick when he was younger and Maida had expressed an interest in me doing Dick as a younger man. Again I hear her incredible love as she speaks the words. I feel her missing him. I realize that this sculpture is as much a part of everyone that loved Dick and expressed that to me, as it is about Dick. Maybe that is where the passion comes from in my work, why people say they “feel” so much about a certain piece.

I spoke with a friend this weekend about creating what I referred to as “the lovely”. She creates portraits and flowers in oil and I love-sculpting people. Some people have not learned or do not wish to tap into “the lovely” and instead they create out of angst and somehow that is transferred to the art. I am not sure how. I do know that my feelings while working on a piece are very important. If I am mad or angry or irritated somehow that transfers to the art. I have pieces that I have created that I just don’t like looking at, and others have expressed that though they feel the pieces are artistically correct, they are really not as appealing as my other work. They don’t know why, but I do. The negative emotion somehow gets mixed in the clay and resides there. When I think of Maida or Charlotte, Nancy, Dick’s daughter or Ruth, Dick’s wife, it is these feelings that I transfer.

I have already aged Dick even in this beginning stage. The wattle, the cheeks the receding hair line. It is funny because as I started, just 40 minutes ago, I knew I had a younger man, but an older Dick is emerging and it is just beginning. If I had more references of him at a younger age I would attempt a younger pose but it takes more focus on my part to work with age progression or in this case age regression.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Face To Face With Dick Hathaway

Today I began on the portrait bust of Dick. It felt good to sit down and start. Meanwhile, Jennifer was putting clay on the torso of Dick for me and Miguel was working on the wax of Jeanine.

I will look forward to the early evening when everyone is out of the studio and I can spend alone time with the sculpture.

How On Earth Will This Thing Turn Into A Sculpture?

Looking at the armature and seeing Dick takes some creative visualization. How will this ever turn into a wonderful sculpture of Dick Hathaway, the same way that this armature turned into a wonderful sculpture of Patsy.

It takes perseverance and a lot of work.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Am I Allergic To Dick Hathaway?

I started putting the foam on the torso of Dick Hathaway. I had used this type of foam before, years ago and had forgotten what a mess it could be. Next time I will work on it I will put on long sleeves and pants. My neck seems to have a rash on it this morning. I’m not sure if it is the foam or not. I would assume it is from putting on and taking off my work apron.

I am so anxious to get to the bust of Dick. This is where we commune. This is where his essence first reveals itself. But I am forced to figure the details out on the torso first. Covering it with foam so that when Jennifer comes in on Friday she can coat the foam with wax and then begin to add the clay. It will expedite the sculpting process. But I have schoolwork to do and want to spend time alone with Dick’s portrait, and in doing so, I’ll also be spending time with my beloved Charlotte. Working on the bust will let me do that.

I look at these foam/wire/pipe armatures and wonder, “How can this ever turn into a nice sculpture?” But it does. Looking at the armature of a sculpture and the sculpture are two totally different things. Even as I begin to add the foam I can feel Dick emerging.

Inevitably, in the weeks to come, I will be sculpting on the torso or even the bust and will find I need to change something about the armature or the foam beneath. I’ll dig it out and pull, push or even hammer the entire thing into creative submission. Often I’ll say to the apprentice, See this here, get all of this out of here,” And in the end, before the mold is made we will be digging out blemishes of foam or wire or whatever to make the surface as smooth as possible.

The Bust Is Created Separately From The Torso Of Dick.

Here you see the foam, and wire. I created the foam by spraying it into plastic bag that surrounded armature wire. Once the foam has cured I cut away the pieces that I do not need. I then cover it with wax. The wax is so the little gritty things from cutting the foam won’t get caught into my clay. I am amazed at how much the texture of the clay bothers me. I like things smooth.

Once the wax dries the entire head is covered with clay. This clay that I use is wax base clay. It can be used over and over again. Of course my apprentices clean off any additional pieces of foam or things that are caught into the clay. The clay is melted in another crock-pot (I spend a lot of time combing thrift stores for crock pots, heating plates, and old kitchen utensils).

Once heated this clay can really burn your skin, so we all try to be extra careful when using it. My new apprentice, Jennifer, puts clay on Dick's bust for me.

I am so thankful for the glasses that I have of Dick. Not only will it help me with his face, but also it becomes something that I can compare everything else to. For example measuring the width of the glasses (five and one half inches) I can take a measurement of them in one of the photographs of Dick and decipher where other parts of his clothing and body fall ie. the length of Dick’s face is approximately two times the width of his glasses or approximately 11 inches long. Of course this is his face in the wedding photo. I notice it seems rounder than it was in some of the photographs taken as he is speaking, probably because he was older.

The Armature Of Dick Hathaway Compared To Patsy

My new apprentice, Jennifer, has done some welding in the past. I have asked her to weld together some rebar for the armature of Dick Hathaway. Normally I would make an armature of plumbing pipe, chicken wire and spray foam. In the first picture you will see the armature created of Patsy that is done in this way. Instead I am going to utilize rebar and some cut foam pieces to create a light armature for Dick. The foam will then be covered with clay.

Before We Go On To The Sculpture Of Dick- I Have One More Thing To Share.

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were in Austin, Texas for a wedding. While there I had the opportunity to see my sculpture of the newsboy that was installed at the Texas Press Association. It was created to be placed at the capitol grounds in Austin, however it must go through legislation to do so. Until it is passed it will reside at the Texas Press Association building. You can read about the process of this commission at

The Texas Press Messenger covered the story of its placement

What Will Come Next?

The next step in the foundry process is creating a wax. I have the ability to pour small wax pieces at the studio, but most of the time I send the molds to the foundry for them to pour the waxes. Lucas is at the foundry now.

I have decided to pour the wax of Jeanine at my studio. It is small and I really like the green wax that I pour in. After the mold is made and cleaned, as shown in the previous post, then it is sprayed with a mold-releasing agent.

There are two crock-pots with melted wax in them. Each is at a different temperature. I will be pouring three layers with this wax. The first layer is hotter than the other two. It captures the details. The wax is poured in and then I carefully swish the hot wax around the inside of the sculpture. Trying to maneuver this mold is sometimes difficult; because of the weight of the plaster it takes some muscles. The other two layers are poured in the same way. Once the wax cools I can pull the wax from the mold. If I have made the mold correctly there will not be a problem with pulling the wax from the mold.

When complete I have a thin, hollow wax replica of my original piece. My apprentices and I will be doing a little more work on these waxes before giving them to the foundry and I’ll have the opportunity to tweak the pieces a bit more. I will do this with the Dick Hathaway sculpture as well. Working the waxes saves a bit more money on the foundry costs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What Will The Foundry Process For The Dick Hathaway Sculpture Consist Of?

That is a good question, though we have several months before we will be watching the Dick sculpture go through this process. Especially since the date of going to the foundry depends on our raising the $9.000. that is needed to cast and ship him.

Each of the sculptures that are going to become a bronze will have to go through this same process of the lost wax method of bronze casting. I’ll go into much more detail with the Dick mold but lets take a quick look at Lucas.

The first step is making the rubber mold
This job is not easy and after coming off of 2 weeks of very, very long days the two apprentices and myself have sent the Lucas molds off to the foundry.

Lets look at the Lucas sculpture and its process so you can see what will happen with Dick.

Once the sculpture is approved I have to cut it apart into smaller pieces. Though the Lucas sculpture is only the size of a 5 year old we have cut him apart into eight pieces. The decision of where to cut the Lucas is based on trying to figure out the easiest way to make a mold of him.

When these pieces are apart I can really see areas that, up until this point, have been difficult for me to work on. Places like under his arms and behind his legs. I love being able to finalize details on these smaller pieces. When the pieces are perfect, or as near perfect as I can get them I need to make a mold of each piece. First I put them on a board and make what will be a seam by separating them with a clay wall. This clay wall becomes a seam after the wax and plaster are applied. The seam gives me two halves so that when we pour a wax in this mold, which is the next step after the mold making process, we will be able to retrieve the wax piece without it breaking. I’ll show some pictures of the Lucas mold making process, but I’ll go into a more detailed description when it comes time to make a mold of Dick.

When the pieces are clayed up with a clay seam I must coat the entire piece very carefully with several coats of rubber that is brushed on.

Once this is cured a thin coat of plaster is put over the rubber. Hemp is mixed in with the plaster to give it strength. This plaster mold is called the mother mold. It holds the rubber in place.

The same process is done with the other side of this piece of sculpture. Of course the clay seam is removed because now I have a rubber seam. If you look carefully at the seam in the first picture I have carved a little gulley in the clay seam. This will make the two pieces match.

Once both sides are done, rubber and then plaster. Flipping the sculpture and then putting rubber and plaster, then the mold can be opened and the original sculpted piece removed. The last photo shows the two halves opened. The gulley created in the seam on the first piece now becomes a key so that the two mold pieces will go together perfectly.

Once the molds are cleaned I send them to the foundry for pouring. I can’t let go of Lucas for too long. I will soon get the wax pieces of Lucas back and be able to finalize some more details.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Making Room For Dick Hathaway-Lucas

With a sculpture of anyone I depend on the photographs that are provided by the clients. When a child is grown and the photographs that are provided are years apart, it makes little difference, but when you have a little boy of 5 and the photographic reference you have is of him at 3, and 4 years of age, it is very difficult. The change in Lucas in each photograph was drastic.
When I was finished with the sculpture of Lucas It was great to have him running around the studio. The one thing that I learned from this sculpture is that the point in the creative process where I feel comfortable that I have captured Lucas it is different from the families. Apparently, this knowing or feeling like I have him and peace with the sculpture is not about me capturing a likeness, because elements of the face changed. But the peace between the Lucas sculpture and myself came before the approval. It makes it feel like that essence is a bit more mystical.

Lucas loved to play with towels and sheets tied around his neck. I believed he liked batman. So I created him in perpetual motion. It reminds me of when we were kids in the 60’s and my brother and I would run around the living room singing that melody in the beginning of the batman series, "na na na na na na na na BATMAN!" Running around pretending to do the
BAHM! WAMB! thing to each other. I had forgotten about all of that until just his moment. Thanks Lucas.

Here are some pictures of Lucas

Making Room For Dick Hathaway-Jeanine

Two sculpture commissions have been in the studio for the past 6-8 months. I have been commissioned to create a life-size bust in bronze of Jeanine, a 26 year old who committed suicide, and a life-size bronze of Lucas, a 5 year old who drowned in a swimming accident.

Because of the nature of the deaths, both of these were difficult sculptures for me to work on. As part of my study at Vermont College I have been examining the process of sculpting the deceased. One element that seems to play a very important roll in the process is my sensitivity to the emotions of my subject and my clients. Some people might term this part of the process psychic empathy, I have been examining it from many different angles than just the paranormal angle. I often can sense and feel things about my subject and the clients that under normal conditions I should not know or feel.

Working through the emotions involved with each commission is as much a part of the process as sculpting. With the commission of Jeanine I had severe feelings of depression that took a great deal of my energy to try to overcome. Somehow walking through those feelings gave me a better sense of who Jeanine was. I am still learning to deal with this part of my talent. Often the emotional aspects that I feel through the sculptures do not feel like they belong to someone else, but instead they feeling like my own. I know it sounds really strange, but it is true. I have almost come to terms with the idea that I can pick up peoples emotions and feelings, they do not have to be near me either. I often feel mom who lives 2,000 miles away and I have also had several feelings from Jeanine’s mom who lives in Alaska- I live in Texas. But I’m not sure about feeling emotions that surround someone who is no longer on this earth. How does this work? This semester’s study leads me into non-local phenomena.

Here are some photographs of the finished sculpture of Jeanine.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Captured Stills Of Dick Hathaway

Yesterday I purchased the program Snapz Pro X to capture still of Dick Hathaway from the Vermont College video. I must have about 40 of them sitting on my desktop waiting to go into Photoshop and be printed out. Today I get back to the armature of Dick.

I hope to also use this program to make the video available on this blog for others to view. It is so wonderful to hear Dick’s voice whenever I want. I am sure others would enjoy listening to him and receiving his inspiration.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Capturing Dick From Video

I am trying to capture images of Dick's face and hands from a wonderful video that has been provided by Vermont College. This resource will be very valuable for the production of the sculpture of Dick Hathaway. But how do you capture stills from a CD? I am working with a company that provides software that does just that. It is calls Snapz Pro X. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I hope it can be done. The resource of capturing stills will not only help me on Dick Hathaway but I can see how using this type of software can be helpful to many future sculptures. I just need to be sure I can get photographs that I can work from.