As a sculptor, Al Hone will start with an idea, a general feeling of what he wants the piece to convey. Will this next piece be wildlife, people, or maybe a combination of the two.He starts by building an armature to support the clay as he works. The size of the sculpture, determines how much support will be needed. He then starts adding the clay to the support. Al sculpts everything from the inside out, this enables him to get the anatomy correct. He will sculpt the muscles first, no matter if it’s a person that will have clothing on, or an animal. Then the skin or outer layer of fur or feathers is added. Texture is very important in the sculpting of animals. If you look at animals in the wild, their fur is ruffled, and not every feather is exactly the same. The best wildlife sculptors will create animals that look like real animals, ruffled feathers, fur and everything. Giving the animals movement, and feeling is all part of the design process. How many sculptures have you seen were the animal is just standing there? Not very exciting. Movement and life are very important in wildlife sculpture.
Sculpting people is the same way. Humans have character, feelings, and emotions. Capturing all that in a sculpture is what draws the art lover to a piece. Have you ever walked into a gallery and been immediately drawn to a certain work of art? Did it touch on your emotions somehow? That is what makes great art.
So after the idea is born, the clay is starting to take shape, now what? The details are the next important step. While creating the piece “Buffalo Medicine”, Al researched what a Sioux medicine man would carry, and what his clothing would look like. The headdress on this piece is modeled after one that is in the Buffalo Bill museum in Cody. The bison robe and clothing are all period correct. He is a medicine man ready to perform an important ceremony.
For the sculptures “ The Storyteller” and “Morning Rays” our love of Ravens was the inspiration. Observing Ravens in the wild, and studying numerous pictures, helped create these two wonderful sculptures. The details in the feathers, and the movement they convey are what make these so special.
For a sculptor, working in an art gallery is an added bonus. People can watch the sculptor as they work, ask questions about the pieces, and have the opportunity to order a precast of the sculpture. Finding a great gallery that will help promote an artist and his art, is very important for the success of any artist.
Sculpting in the gallery
After the clay sculpture is done, it’s taken to a foundry where it becomes the beautiful bronze you see in the gallery. A rubber mold is made from the clay, it’s encased in hard plaster to help hold the shape. Hot wax is then poured into the mold. After it hardens and is removed, a person called a chaser will go over the wax and make sure it is perfect. The wax is then repeatedly dipped in slurry which hardens on the outside. The wax is melted out of the slurry mold and hot bronze is poured in. Once the bronze hardens the slurry mold is removed. If the sculpture is large or has several small pieces, the mold will be done in sections. These sections will be welded back together once the bronze is cast. Then the edges are cleaned up, and everything is checked to make sure it is correct to the original mold. It will then go to the patina department. Al will go to the foundry for this process to make sure the colors are what he envisioned for the piece.And a new work of art is ready to be enjoyed.Be sure to go to the Sculpture page for information about all these pieces.