This is a tale of woe that fortunately had a good ending for 3 of my original pieces. I suspect there are a good number of you out there that have never even seen these 3 pieces.
The Kilimanjaro Bull is three feet high and was the very first Elephant I sculpted but I don’t display it anymore. It is too heavy to haul around as are the wall mount and the giraffe. Time has marched on and Di and I don’t have the strength to handle these at the shows.
So herewith the tale. One of the foundries I have used for years burned down this year. Cal Paulson’s Billings Bronze was nearly burned to the ground. Thankfully no one was hurt and few losses of art occurred but there was really not much left.
The patina room was destroyed and much of the equipment was also burned. Sometime ago, Cal cast two Kilimanjaro Study wall mounts, one Kilimanjaro Bull as well as Rain Dancer, a four foot tall giraffe and they were just there when the fire went through.
Mercifully, the flames were not hot enough to melt or damage the bronze. On my way back from the Bozeman foundry last month I stopped by to collect the two heads and the Giraffe. The Kilimanjaro Bull however, will be on its way to be displayed and perhaps sold at the African Oasis in Dillion, Montana in the next few weeks or so.
Back from the dead
Cal had to patina the heads with rudimentary bits and pieces and used a fork lift to raise the pieces so we could get it done. We managed to find a little bottle of silver nitrate which is the foundation chemical he has always used to patina the Elephant. The darker colors were the usual ferric oxides he uses which is easy to make by putting a kilo of nails in a gallon of sulphuric acid and let the nails dissolve so we had plenty of that. Cal had his pump pot with the potash mixture so we had no problem with that either. The sequence is to put potash on the raw bronze and to highlight the high bits with a blue pad which is like a nylon pot scourer and then heat the whole thing with the blow torch which he had because it survived the fire but the bottle of course had exploded so he had another one or two brought in. We worked in a room across the street from the original Foundry. It was very hot work in that summer heat so naturally a few beers assisted in the improvisations we had to make.
I was glad to have the chance to work with Cal on these original pieces. A lot of water under the bridge for the two of us and it felt like we had gone full circle. Cal, the foundry and I go right back to when I very first arrived in the USA to become a full-time sculptor.
And there we shall leave this tale…
If you might be interested in the sculptures, do get in touch. Otherwise be on the lookout for some new work before we go to Australia in late October to visit our grandchildren and, of course, their parents.
And don’t forget that we are going to be at the Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson, TX on October 6th and 7th. A new show for us which we are very much looking forward to attending so if you’re in the area don’t forget to come over and say hello.
Until next time, JT