Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind Honors John Turner.

Delighted to see this wonderful tribute to John Turner from the Dallas Light House For The Blind.
Of course the unveiling of the sculpture can be seen at the end of the video at about the 3:30 mark.

It was so much fun creating this piece for the city of Frisco, Texas.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Unveiling of a sculpture, accolades of a great man and the appreciate of a president.

Here is the entire dedication and unveiling of the sculpture that I created of John Turner and his dog. Watching this you will learn much about the man and all he has done. I was delighted that presenters read a a letter from George Bush. The letter talks about all that John has done in his life . Laura and George W. Bush thanked many for honoring this man including... "Bridgette Mongeon" (5:29) Thanks President Bush. John Milton Turner Statue Unveiling in Frisco,TX (June 4, 2017) from Brad Sharp on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Installation of a Sculpture- Final

Thanks to Unified Fine Arts for taking such care with my work. 
We followed along on the prep of a bronze sculpture in the last post. Now, let's see how this is installed.

On my second day of travel, the John Turner sculpture and I end our journey at Frisco Heritage Center.  This is a charming place to visit with old buildings. I can't help look at the area and dream of benefactors that will let me create period bronzes with the faces of their loved ones that will enhance the visiting experience.  I see bronze sculpture of children from history gathering in the school yard, or a boy and his dog playing on the porch of the old cabin.  A family, in period costume, running to catch the train at the Frisco Depot or a black smith working in the blacksmith shop.

Together Unified Fine Arts, Nouveau Construction and myself
go over he plans for the installation.  
Sitting on the old the porch of the old log cabin, watching
them unwrap and install the sculpture while I dream of
other bronze apparitions with the faces of benefactors family
members adorning these incredible old buildings. 
I only take moments to see these creative, inspirational bronze apparitions as we must quickly get to work. I arrive at 10 and we estimate this will take about 2 hours. I'm happy to see strapping young men and art handlers of Unified Fine Arts. They will come in handy when trying to lift out a 350 lb sculpture.

We watched the prep of this at the foundry and on site in the previous post.  Now, let's look at the rest of an installation. Together Unified Fine Arts, Nouveau Construction and myself go over he plans for the installation.  I can't be at every install, as my schedule and the travel will not always permit me to be there. In those cases I have strong communication with my clients, delivery and installers. However, I'm delighted to have been able to be at the install of John Turner.  The slab has been poured, cured and ready.  After Unified Fine Arts carefully unwraps the sculpture we begin to look at placement. I'm thinking of many things when placing a sculpture. Some of these things I have taken into consideration all the way back when creating the sculpture in the studio.  Design questions I ask myself are:

  • In what direction is my subject looking? 
  • What are the elements surrounding the sculpture that may interfere with the visual design?
  • How does the sculpture look when you are approaching it? 
  • Does the placement of the design look good in configuration with the slab? 
  • My client and I look at many
    different options for the placement
    of the plaque. 
  • Where will people interact with the sculpture? 
Testing the placement of the plaque
with the interaction of kids and
the dog. 
The men at Unified Fine Arts are patient. I wonder if they think I'm like a woman moving heavy furniture in a room, "No, the sofa may look better over there, but I don't know, can I see it again?"  I am a visual person by nature and so I often will move and fudge a sculpture, try one thing and another until both I and my client agree. The added visual element we had to concern ourselves with is the dedication plaque. The plaque will rest flush with the ground.  I'm concerned as to where it is placed if people are taking pictures. I know children will love to come and see the dog. Adults may want to pose next to or behind John.  I'd like to see it not be stepped on that much. Once we have exhausted our option we vote for the plaque to the right in front, and John facing the parking lot as if he is walking to go home. I do wish this concrete were stained the color of the other pavement, or ideally I would have loved it if the pavement circled around or he was put in an existing walkway. But this is what we have to work with and it does look fabulous. 
I try many things before settling on a place. Thanks for your
patience Unified Fine Arts. 

Once we have the placement of all of the visual elements I trace the places where the sculpture touches on the concrete with a pencil.  Then the template is set in place and the holes are traced so the installers know where to drill. They drill holes into the concrete a bit wider than the threaded rods that I have provided.   

Once the sculpture is where we like it
I trace around the feet of the sculpture. 
The men at Unified Fine Arts use my template to indicate
where to drill the holes for the threaded rod. 
Dry Fit
Once the holes are cleaned out with an air compressor the installers prepare for a dry fit. They lift the sculpture and place the sculpture with the threaded rods extended out of the bronze, and place the piece into the holes.  This is where a sledge hammer may come in handy. If the person drilling the holes did not drill them perpendicular to the slab then the rods will not fit in properly or if the foundry did not weld the nuts perfectly perpendicular then this will also be a a problem. The solution is to lift the sculpture out and either drill the holes more, or bang the rods into place with a sledge hammer. 
Careful drilling perpendicular to the slab will allow for
a good dry fit. 

The rods are twisted into the nuts of the bronze and
a dry fit ensures that we can move to epoxy. 
Securing the sculpture
Once the dry fit is complete the sculpture with its threaded rods is lifted out and then epoxy is put into the holes. Carefully the sculpture is set back into place. The epoxy will cure quickly and secure the sculpture. 

Once complete, I walked around the park to see how the sculpture looks from all directions. I am more than pleased. 

My work is done here. The sculpture is now covered with a cloth to prevent others from seeing it until the unveiling. I often like to attach a small note to the tarp saying what it is and when it will be unveiled. I think this is an invite for others and prevents curious eyes from being tempted to take the tarp off and look for themselves. 

Epoxy is put in each hole. 
Now for my long ride home. The van feels empty without the 350 pound sculpture, but my schedule is now just a bit lighter as I move on to a portrait bust and the sculpture commission created in loving memory of Norma Zenteno and in support of Barrio Dogs. I'm also still monitoring the bronze casting of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture of the monumental scene of the Mad Hatter's Tea party created for Evelyn's Park called "Move One Place On." I'm also writing a book about the creation of this sculpture similar to my last book. 

My client and I step back and admire our months or hard
work and dedication. 
I kissed the dog goodbye. I have a long and emotional creative process with him and I had no idea until I left.  I was going through the loss of a family pet when my children lost their home in a fire in February.  If you feel some extra emotion coming from this dog, it is that love and tears that were put into the clay.  

I'll be back up here next weekend for the unveiling. I can't wait until John Turner sees the sculpture. I know you will ask, "How can he see it? he is blind."  That is the thing about sculpture and 3D work, it is meant to be touched.  

I love the way John and his dog look from all directions. 
Author: Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon

Installation of a bronze sculpture - Prep.

John and his dog are flying in
the foundry of Miguel Macia
 Installation of a bronze sculpture really depends on the size, location and base where it will be mounted.

Plenty of time should be planned for installation. If you are trying to set up an unveiling of a sculpture it is best to plan weeks in advance for the installation. Installation and delivery can be stalled by weather. I have, at times, also had deliveries rerouted because of wildfires.  Giving plenty of time for pouring and delivery is important.

Miguel Macia works carefully at his foundry. We have seen all of the work that has gone into the sculpture up to this point.  It has its final patina and so great care is taken not to scratch the art.

First a pattern must be made.  
Some installers may not need this, but I find it is nice to have.

Internal mounting structure
There are nuts that are welded into the bottom portion
of the sculpture.  
John is placed on his side. You will see nuts that the foundry has welded inside of the sculpture.  There are 4 points of contact. There is a nut in Johns toe, one in his heal, one in the front leg of the dog and then a nut in the back leg.  It is preferred that all sculptures have at least 3 points of contact. If they do not, then this must be bid and prepared long before this stage. The foundry would need to weld stainless steal in the sculpture to engineer the sculpture properly. In larger sculptures engineers would be brought in on the job to be sure that everything is safe.  
The cardboard template is made. 

The threaded rods poke through
the cardboard.
Threaded Rods Threaded rods are now threaded into the sculpture and then a cardboard pattern is made.  The rod is pushed through the cardboard and then the feet of John and the dog are traced. Now we will see how all of this prep work comes together in the installation of the bronze.

Prep at the Site 
Nouveau Construction created the concrete slab at the site. I sent them specifications as to how deep and wide the slab would need to be to accommodate the weight of John and his dog and to look aesthetically pleasing.  Ideally I would have loved to see John on a continuous walkway, with the same look as the other walkways, instead of just on a pad. I really love it when my sculptures just blend in with their surroundings.

I cut out portions of the template. you will see how this is
important at installation.
With the concrete poured and the sculpture loaded we keep an eye on the weather and plan our route. I also take the following:

  • Extra patina, brushes and wax, just in case the sculpture is accidentally scratched. 
  • A torch to melt the wax
  • All of the clients reference material
  • A release form 
  • Miguel Macias is my accomplice in this loading.
    we have used this engine hoist on more than
    one occasion and it works great. 
  • A form that describes the care of a bronze
  • A sledge hammer. If someone else is installing the sculpture they might bring a sledge hammer. You will see the use of this at installation.  
Miguel Macia does install the work, but on this job my client is responsible for installation.

I tend to carry a lot of bodies in this van. Miguel said, "My
dad taught me always tie down anything you are transporting."
John and his dog are secure.

Transportation of a sculpture can happen in a variety of ways. I have fit many a body in the back of my van and when possible I like this way best. An enclosed vehicle makes me feel like the sculpture is safe, and I often have to make stops and sleep along the way.  Though I carry insurance on all of my sculpture projects safety is important for me. I don't want anything to happen this late in the game.
If I were to transport John and his dog on a trailer he would not be covered.  My art shipping company of choice is Acts Crating and Transportation.  They ship all of my work, unless a foundry offers shipping at a better price. If a sculpture is shipped on an open bed the flapping of the tarps can sometimes rub off the patina. If he were on a trailer he would be on a very interesting walk from Houston to Frisco, Texas.

Author: Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon 

Finishing at the foundry

going over everything and marking
things that need attention
with a marker.
Miguel heats up the bronze to
apply the color
We have watched John and his dog go through the casting process now it is time for the finishing process.  I work closely with Miguel Macias .  This part of the process takes a few visits. I go over the sculpture carefully marking any blemishes. Then Miguel painstakingly goes over the sculpture grinding, bending and finishing portions.

Finally it is patina day. To patina the sculpture Miguel heats up each area and applies different chemicals to cause the metal to have a chemical reaction.  It is a long process and I often will stay the day, or morning while they are working on the piece. A final coat of wax is put on to protect the sculpture and we make arrangements to pic up John and his dog.

It has been a long journey to here but I'm thrilled with the end results.

Heat, chemical and then finally wax to protect the surface.
It is a long process.

Monday, April 24, 2017

At the foundry

What you are seeing here actually happened weeks ago. 
WAXES:  In each rubber mold wax is poured or brushed.  The wax is not solid but it is hollow. The pieces will be cast this way and put together in metal. 
THE DIP: After the foundry makes the waxes they are dipped into a slurry mixture and coated with sand. This makes a ceramic shell both inside and out.  This process is not captured on this blog.  

 THE POUR: The wax is burned out of the shell and molten bronze is poured into each of the pieces. This process is often referred to as the "lost wax method of bronze casting."

There is still much to do. Each shell must be broken off of the bronze, the metal is then cleaned and each of the pieces will be welded together.

It is a little horrific seeing John and the dog cast about and in pieces.  The weld marks look horrible as well, but the foundry workers are artists and can blend each of the welds seamlessly.  On April 27, I'll be headed to the foundry to "check the metal." I'll go over everything and circles any areas that I feel need attention.

PATINA: After approval the final step is the patina.  Pictures soon to come.

Mold making- John goes to pieces.

These last few weeks have been very busy, here in the studio and then at the foundry. You saw how we were cutting up John in various sections. Now it is time to make a mold. Each section has a seam,  or seams. Then rubber is painted over the entire piece, section by section.  After 4 layers of rubber, plaster has been added. This is all a part of the foundry process.  The final rubber molds are cleaned and sent to the foundry.