Marine life into metal.
Having an underwater camera takes things to a whole new level of scuba diving. Planning your next trips is all about finding and filming specific animals. For example, if you want to film hammerhead sharks you plan a trip to the Galapagos or Coco’s Islands where you have the best chances of encounters.
I try to pick one subject, a turtle or a shark that is willing to have me around for a while. The key is to have plenty of footage of the animal all around and top to bottom if possible. The real life experience helps greatly when sculpting at the bench. Especially capturing the movements of the animal. Seeing the beauty of these animals up close is simply breathtaking.
First, I watch the clips taken over and over until that experience flows through my hands. I start mostly with flat metal stock made of tin. I like to work directly in
metal. I usually draw a top view sketch of the subject and glue it onto the metal
where I saw it out with a jewelers saw. I’ll start to use small hammers and other
tools to get the main shape.
I work with a soldering iron and torch to add metal where needed. I use various burrs and files to start to get into the fine details like gills, fins and eyes. Finishing it off with different grit sandpaper my model is now complete.
I then have a rubber mold made and production begins.
The original sculpture or “model” goes into a mold and once vulcanized or cured it is removed leaving a detailed cavity. Different molds are made for casting different types of metals. My bronze and sterling collections are made from a lost wax casting method in which wax is injected into the mold one piece at a time making a wax version of the model.
These individual waxes are then attached to a center wax sprue, which looks just like a “tree” when finished. Then placed in a
cylinder or “crucible” to pour a plaster like substance called investment. Once dried is goes into a high temperature Kiln where all the wax is burned out leaving many small cavities of my original model. Once placed in a centrifugal machine molting bronze or sterling is added to fill the cavities. All you have left to do is to crack the plaster and the tree in now metal. They are all cut off the tree and finished individually by hand. Diving and being able to create small replicas of turtles, sharks, dolphins, rays and others has always been very satisfying especially when I see the first finished piece. Sharing my art with people and talking about the importance of protection to our oceans has given my life true meaning.