BUT CAST IN BRONZE
Does the clay speak back to the potter?
You bet your wrought iron she does!!
(She likes to think of it in terms of having conversations)
And has she been struck by lightning? Not yet, but she is considering a weathervane as an early warning device.
This past weekend, I discovered that my new hometown boasts Western Canada’s first and largest artistic bronze foundry. Studio West is located in what looks initially like a small building, but then you see add-on, to add-on, like the little house that added a bedroom with each new baby. Karen Begg, the grand-daughter and daughter of the original founders, was my tour guide. She explained their success story of steady growth and right time expansion. Their humble bronze pour beginning in a Calgary garage had the neighbours talking.
Karen’s passion for the creative process is evident in the stain of the hands, the caress of the finished products, the excitement in her voice as she shares the history, the process, and the Canada to Europe locations of their finished pieces. From concept to larger than life, she provides the short version of how to create a lasting monument. The quality of their works have garnered numerous awards, five of their pieces have been unveiled by the Queen.
It is Karen’s explanation of the Lost Wax foundry process that intrigues me. In a nutshell, they cover the original sculpture with rubber, then a layer of hot wax is poured over top, cooled, and then the outer mould is crafted from the same material used in the space shuttle tiles. The wax is lost-or melted out. Space the wax occupied, becomes bronze. Experience has taught them to make a small model before the full size. The final statue is poured in sections approximately 325-500 lbs at a time. Pieces are welded together, after which smoothing out the joints and fine detailing takes place … always going back to the original model as their guide. (Note-this does not happen overnight.)
In the back room, we met a pair of one hundred year old dogs, to be refinished and given a new home.
“What turns the parts of the statues golden?” one of our group asks.She replies, “when they are loved, see the tips of the nose, and tops of heads.” I wonder if I develop any golden character when I am brushed up close and personal with people.
So many comparisons to ancient words … about, a Creator that has crafted artistic works, being made in His image, always going back to the original, the potter’s hands.
I forgot to ask Karen if any of her monuments ever talked back to her …. or were struck by lightning.
An interesting book I recently discovered is: Conversations With Monuments in Winnipeg by Kathleen Francis. Photography and thoughts around some of Winnipeg’s bronze characters.
Studio West Bronze Foundry & Art Gallery – Galleries West