Making the "Blackjack" sculptures.
Initially, I produced very basic sketches, both in order to formulate my ideas, and for presentation to a foundry for rough estimates of costs. These were drawn with a ball-pen. Since the Virgin and Child necessitated the juxtaposition of two figures, I then produced a small rough wax sketch, in order better to work out how the two figures might relate three-dimensionally. This was then followed by two more detailed pencil sketches, derived from this.
At this point, I was happy to produce clay maquettes (detailed scale models) of both Virgin and Child and St. John, which I then cast in bronze resin, which are shown at the top of the "project Blackjack" page, and which are now displayed in the church.
Because of Covid 19, there has been somewhat of a break before we have again moved forward with the construction of Saint John. The first stage was to produce an armature of welded tubular steel and aluminium wire, around which the basic form of John was constructed with wire-netting. The clay was attached to this, gradually building up the form, in the process which you can see in the gallery below.
The next picture gallery shows the creation of the mould. The first image shows me brushing the initial coat of rubber onto the clay. The clay was then completely covered in rubber, which was applied in successively thicker coats. John's head then acquired a "halo" of plastic shim to create a seam between the halves of the mould, and this was then extended to create all the seams where the mould would be divided. Once the shim was in place, it was covered in rubber, and small rubber squares stuck on to the mould surface as location pieces to hold it in place within a fibre-glass support case. The final pictures show me applying pieces of fibreglass and the completed fibre-glass case on top of the rubber. The last image is of the various sections of the mould once it was dismantled, with the rubber held in place within the support cases. John now no longer exists, except as a void waiting to be filled.
At this point, having completed the clay and the mould of Saint John, I had intended to join my wife and son at our French home for Christmas. However, the virus has again altered my plans, as it has for so many people, and as with others, my family and I have had to be apart. I therfore decided to start on the Virgin and Child earlier than I had intended. The clay is now complete, and I have started work on the mould. The next gallery shows the work from armature to completion of the clay. In the first image, the metal frame outside the armature represents the position of the niche within which the final sculpture will be placed.
This web-page will continue to follow all stages of the production of these sculptures through to installation.