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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Frank Hamer comes to life before my eyes...

Yes, sometimes even I am amazed at what happens in my studio... with just my hands and the right information. And even more amazed at how that information gets to me...

If you check this blog very often, you are going to be wondering what the heck I've been doing... because I'm not writing in the blog much...

I am working quite a bit these days on my commission for the City of Navasota, that is the life-sized statue of Navasota Marshal Frank Hamer (1908 - 1911), to be cast in bronze. I have visited the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, where they shared what they had in their files, including rare, never published photos of Ranger Hamer. But there were lots of questions still. Last Saturday a young policeman from Hempstead came in and after talking a bit, he offered that he was an Old West re-enactor and had items that might help me in the creation of Hamer's clothing... Amazingly, he had the authentic dead ringer for Frank Hamer's hat and gun belt, and a pair of trousers and suspenders that have helped me a great deal as well.

A few weeks ago a nice lady from Giddings came by, she is a big Hamer fan, and after talking, brought me rare photos I would never have found of Hamer's actual holster, pistol and badge, all items featured in an old auction catalog. With Divine intervention, everything is falling together. I always say that things never fall together, they fall apart... it takes no less than God to make order out of chaos.

I'm so glad that I had not already made the sculpture, as I would have had to have redone a lot of the details. And as you can see, I have tried to get it right, right down to the suspender straps and the caliber of bullets on the gunbelt. I even acquired a holster designed similar to his, and a 1895 Winchester .30-06 lever action rifle like the one he sometimes posed with, to get it right. And you are looking at the final maquette. It is right! Now I can finish "big Frank" with confidence.

The first step in the process is to weld up an armature, this took several days, to make a steel skelton that is light yet strong enough to carry the weight of the clay.

Next I will "mass him in" with styrofoam. This keeps the sculpture light and actually stronger, and also saves a lot of clay. Then after he has reached about 90% of his eventual volume, I finally start with the clay. That's next!

I will post blogs about Frank's progress all through the process, so you guys can see how it is done. You are not going to believe how difficult, how expensive, and how complicated the processs is!

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