Monumental Bronzes
by Jocelyn Lillpop Russell



Many people are in the dark about the process of creating a monument, or even a small bronze.
Although there are several different methods, I have only used two for the big projects.



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Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
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Taking on a new commission makes me think of one of my favorite Star Trek clips.

'You didn't tell him how long it would REALLY take, did you?

The horse monument in progress. -Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
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The horse monument in progress.
Enlarging a sculpture from a smaller size, or perhaps even a sketch, is referred to as 'pointing up'. This can be done either by hand, or by hiring out a digital enlargement which replicates your smaller sculpture in precut foam.
To enlarge by hand, the monuments begin with a steel or wood armature to support the weight of the clay. The bulk of the sculpture is built with styrofoam blocks, carving them to the approximate size and shape of the animal.

This is a critical stage of the process, with careful attention paid to proportion and movement of the piece. Here, Jocelyn is preparing to mark the bone placement for the correct relationship of the shoulder to the foreleg. Everything must be calculated carefully, using calipers for accuracy.


Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

The second method of enlargement utilizes your existing smaller sculpture. With today's technology, it is possible to take a three dimensional reading and then laser cut your desired enlargement out of foam block. This gives a terrific jump start to the project, and eliminates weeks of messy foam measuring and carving. Although a great help, the artist still must make many modifications to the foam, layer it with clay, and put in all of the final detail work, such as muscle, hair texture, eyes, etc.

Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

Here, the monument has been sealed with hot wax, and a layer of clay has been started on the head. It is an evolving process, and adjustments continue to be needed as the sculpture takes shape.



Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
Following is a walk through one of my foundries, showing the casting process with various artists pieces in each room of specialty. It takes weeks for one of my sculptures to complete the foundry process.
When the clay is complete, the next step is making the mold. A thin layer of rubber is painted over the clay and built up in successive layers for strength. This is then covered with a layer of plaster for a rigid backing.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
Next, the mold is removed from the clay and cleaned. It is then heated and filled with hot wax. The bulk of the wax is poured out, leaving a thin layer inside of the mold. This produces a replica of your clay, but in thin wax. The layers of wax are built up to the thickness desired in bronze.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
The wax is then 'chased', removing all mold seams, bubbles and flaws incurred in the wax pouring process. Wax sprues are added to each piece at this stage.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
Next, the wax pieces are dipped in a liquid 'slurry' and powdered in silica. This process is repeated many times, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly, until a thick layer of shell is built up around each wax.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
This photo shows several different bronzes in the shell room, all carefully sprued and in the drying process.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

Next... a trip to the furnace room.



Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
The pieces are then placed in an oven that fires the shell, hardening it in preparation for the molten bronze. This process also causes the wax to melt out, leaving a vacancy for the bronze... hence, the 'lost wax method'.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
The molten bronze is poured in in excess of 2200 degress. All excess bronze escapes through the sprues and vents, hopefully taking with it any impurities or air bubbles.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

After cooling, the shell is then hammered off and the metal pieces are then sanblasted.



Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
Next, the pieces are prepared for assembly, alternating between welding and grinding to make a perfect fit.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

Welding, using tungsten inert gas.





Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

This work in progress shows the panel sizes and seam lines before metal chasing.





Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
After sandblasting, the monument is lifted to height, and adjusted for level. All flaws are marked and worked. This is a critical stage for the artist and involves an accurate eye as well as a little foundry patience!




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
The bronze is prepared for it's final coloration, or patina. Here, a layer of diluted potash has darkened the metal, and the highlights are scrubbed back out to reveal textures and color patterns.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

IT'S A MESSY JOB!!!!!





Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
The bronze is then heated up and diluted ferric nitrate is sprayed over the hot metal, deepening in color with each pass.




Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell

The balance between heat and chemical is critical for consistency in color.





Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
Finally, the bronze is sealed with either lacquer or wax to protect the finish. It must be waxed every six months thereafter to help preserve the metal and color.




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25% Larger than Life -Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
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25% Larger than Life
Jocelyn completed her first bronze monument of a bull elk entitled 'Royal Descent', in which the #1 casting was dedicated and installed at 63rd and River Drive in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 6, 1999. At approximately 10 feet in height, the bull elk is 'heroic' in size, being larger than life by 25%.

The artist's inspiration for the piece was triggered by a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where she watched this big bull working the hillside behind the campground. Ever vigilant, he was obsessed with keeping his harem of cows isolated from the other rival bulls.


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Miles on the road with this in my rear view mirror!! -Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell
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Miles on the road with this in my rear view mirror!!


It's an unusual sight for many to see a 10' tall elk zipping down the interstate, backwards on a flatbed trailer at 70 mph (OK... probably 75). For me, it has become routine. The biggest thing I notice is how amazingly courteous other drivers are, especially at busy intersections. They just seem to 'part the waters'. I'm not sure if they are scared to death the bronze is going to topple over on them, or they really think it's cool. What I AM sure of is that a person can get used to being treated special on the road. When I drop the trailer off, I am reminded immediately of what it's like to be 'just another driver'. Hmmmph.


Monumental Bronzesby Jocelyn Lillpop Russell


"ROYAL DESCENT"
The Monument Edition of 10
by Jocelyn Lillpop Russell




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