I got a call from a gentleman in Canada inquiring on the possibility of creating a Hackney sculpture for his farm. I told him I was interested in his idea. I loved the possibility to realize the Hackney horse that’s been dancing in my head for years and across my heart. This would be my chance to finally make the sculpture I’ve always wanted to create. The caveat though was he wanted it made in a resin instead of bronze. This is my story of how the sculpture became a reality.
Although I lobbied for a hard copy in bronze, I jumped at the idea because I’d never done a large piece in an alternative material. And while there would be resin casts of the sculpture, there would be bronze castings too. So, I had to find a casting foundry that worked in resin, was capable of making a semi-flexible mold useable for both, was very good with working with in resin that would be installed outside and have the skill to blend the individual parts together in a seamless manner without destroying all the detail work I put into the model.
After making inquiries to ten companies across the country I did a spread sheet on the costs, shipping, method of production etc. I learned a lot about the possibilities of the material and all of the drawbacks of trying to fit my vision into a rather inflexible method of producing a resin cast. And I discovered all kinds of people making some pretty incredible things. The intriguing part to me was the amazing variations using the same molding and casting materials. Examples are sculptures made for natural history museums depicting dinosaurs in the flesh and bones. Movie set companies which made all sorts of animals for use in the movie and TV business.They all had great input into how this sculpture would be constructed.
I thought of striking out and making the resin casting myself in my studio. I ordered products from several different companies and tried them out to see if I could work with them. Zoopoxy is a material that is used in zoo exhibits. The big trees, roots and rocks etc are all made out of this material which has to be extremely durable and well withstand not just sun, heat and cold but you know animal products in lots of quantities dumped on the exhibits. This product was like warm taffy which you would use stamps to make the tree bark shapes etc. They also have a sculpting dough that has a binder in to make it well “doughier” or dryer not so runny. More like modeling clay.
I set out some samples and played with it to see if it was a viable thing to use on a model. I found it okay, but really not to my liking. It felt plastic and crumbly, not smooth and easily manipulated. Another product I tried was Aquaresin. Developed by an professor of art, I found it okay for a smooth surface but my sculpture doesn’t have a smooth surface so this wouldn’t work. I did opt to use it to re-enforce the legs of the horse model before I put clay on it. That way it would be more stable in transit to the foundry wherever that was going to be. They had a Fiberglas gauze material that was very light and strong once the Aquaresin was applied. It didn’t stink either. Which was a good thing since I had the model in the house. It was a consistent temperature in the house for the clay application. The clay goes from a soft consistency to hard rather quick if it’s cold in the room or the floor. Rough on the hands and joints.
So I sculpted the piece out of clay. I felt it was better to go ahead and use my tried and true method of modeling the sculpture until I had it finished to my liking. I took a big breath and started on my odyssey of discovery in the world of resin.
to be continued . . .