Saturday, September 5, 2015

Phase 3: The Patina

When I arrived at the foundry, on the morning of the 26th of August, the foundry artisans had just finished polishing the raw bronze; to fully remove the ceramic casting material and render the bronze ready to receive the patina. I had requested the hair to be semi polished, the textured suit jacket and under support to be unpolished, and the face, shirt, tie, and lapels to be fully polished. Everything was in order. The overall presentation, although still unfinished in my eyes, was so much more dramatic than the original clay model or the interim wax rendering.

It is of special note, that I developed the "portrait pose" for the Robert Hayes bust to be most effective from the lofty stance of the four foot high pedestal the sculpture will be resting on. When the bust is finally unveiled in October the viewer will be looking up directly into Roberts eyes, rather than down at the top of his head; as shown in these pictures.

The patina session started at 10:00 and wasn't completed until five hours later at 3:00. Melanie, the foundry's patina artisan, who has worked with me on all my bronzes, worked tirelessly and took only a short break for lunch. Melanie is a critical part of the equation and we exchanged ideas constantly as the session progressed. It's a real artistic collaboration.

What a startling difference the patina makes. After first applying a light coat of  a neutral brownish-bronze color we moved on to complete the dark colours. Black for the hair and blue for the jacket; brushing with coarse steel wool, here and there, to add highlights.  The tie followed using a mix of black and burgundy.

White patina is rarely used in combination with other colors, because it is so difficult to apply successfully. It spurts and sputters and gets on everything and if it's applied at too hot a temperature it has a tendency to yellow. But I believed it was an essential component for the Robert Hayes bust.


I asked Melanie to apply the white to one half of the shirt as I held a makeshift shield to contain the sputtering from contaminating the other colours. Both Paul Puma and Dave Murphy, active members of  the commission committee, on my invitation, had made the trip all the way from Halifax to attend the session. At that point Melanie and I backed away and I asked Paul and Dave their opinion.  They were 100% on board.

I think you will agree that the white patina on the dress shirt was the way to go.

This whole process started in November, 2014 and the bust will only finally be unveiled in October. It was worth every minute of time for me. I got to know Robert Hayes, meet Paul and Dave, and collaborate once again with the excellent artisans at my foundry in Inverness, Quebec.