Time Out

I have been having some technical difficulties with the web site, which, are (I hope) rectified, at this point. So… on ward! I am working on a new series of small scale bronze sculptures, incorporating “the man in the suit,” as I refer to him, and some found objects that will all be cast into metal soon. The plaster figure is ready for molding, which will take place this week, and waxes of the other components are ready for delivery to the foundry, so I hope to have castings by the end of August. At that point, I will begin designing and assemblage work. Both of these actions take place at the same time, as the sculpture design is not yet determined. I’m planning on a series of 3 in this particular set of sculptures. More on all this soon. Stay tuned!

Molds of found objects

Molds of found objects

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New Work

For the last couple of months, I’ve been working on creative projects for my wife’s participation in the annual “Farm Chicks Show,” which was this past weekend in Spokane. Now that’s done, and I’m off and running with creating new sculpture! I am in the middle of pouring new waxes for casting into bronze so that I have parts of objects to foster new sculptural forms. In addition to these objects, I will be making some very small figures directly out of wax to cast up, and later combine these various elements into completed pieces. Wax work is always a challenge with local temperatures at 100 degrees outside and about 85 degrees in the studio, but I will prevail! Stay tuned for updates on the new sculptures and other news.

Waxes in the making

Waxes in the making

More bricks

More bricks

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Remembering Mom

Having lost my mother recently, in amongst the grieving process, I remember how she kept me in art supplies when I was a kid. I built sculptural objects from cardboard, paper, balsa wood, wire, and whatever else I could lay my hands on at the time. When she asked a coworker what to do with this crazy artist person, he told her to keep me supplied with stuff to create with. It didn’t have to be fancy, especially since we didn’t have much money at the time. Among all that cardboard, glue, and tape, she also used to get the left-over rolls of newsprint paper from the Tri-City Herald. I could roll that out and draw any size I wanted! Great days!

Detail of "Moving" by Tom

Detail of “Moving” by Tom

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Ode to Mother

I have been carving and finishing an old stone carving, as I have been reflecting on my mother’s life. She passed away last Sunday, and I remember, among other things, that she was my first contact, when I arrived in the Tri-City area 24 years ago. Mom had purchased a stone piece that I had created while living in Colorado, and, in turn, donated that piece to the City of Richland’s public art collection. “Dreamer,” as the sculpture is entitled,now resides in the Richland Public Library, on the second floor of their new facility. Although the current stone piece is a different sculpture, it has the same subject matter as the library piece. Carving is always a good reminder about how sculpture is, fundamentally, the manipulation of light and dark. So: Here’s to Mom! We’ve come full circle.

The new piece by Tom

The new piece by Tom


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Ancient Metalurgy

There’s a reminder of just how sophisticated ancient peoples were in the field of metalurgy discussed in the March/April issue of “Archaeology” magazine. The article comments on how the ancient Egyptians made jewelry beads from iron sourced from meteorites! These kinds of discoveries never fail to impress upon me just how far in the past complex metal working is and how creative ancient civilizations could be, given what we consider today to be “primitive” technology. These ancient beads were considered, in their time, as more valuable than gold, since the production of any iron based objects was rare and only for the ruling class individuals. These objects very likely also had ceremonial/spiritual functions, as the source material literally came from the sky.

Foundry at Western Washington University, 1974

foundry at Western Washington University, 1974

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The Aviator Returns

Yesterday, I picked up my wife from the Tri-City Airport and discovered that the “Varney Aviator” sculpture I created in 2001 has been moved back to its original site inside the entrance. This was done while the airport undergoes major remodeling/rebuilding. I don’t yet know where it will wind up after all the building is complete in another year or so. This is a life size realistic portrait bust of a 1920’s era aviator complete with goggles and headgear, which was commissioned by the Franklin County Historical Society. I also designed the display cabinet and had it built by a cabinet maker in the local area to my specifications. One of the best design aspects of the piece is the large Plexiglas cover over the bust, which does exactly what I wanted, and that is to visually “float” the sculpture in space. This art piece celebrates the first airmail runs in Pasco after the end of World War 1.

"Varney Aviator" by Tom

“Varney Aviator” by Tom

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Facial Reconstruction Notes

My last bog entry dealt with Naia, the 15 year old dating from almost 13,000 years in the past and her facial reconstruction. Another reconstruction that I mentioned was “Spirit Cave Man,” whose reconstruction I also worked on in consultation with Dr. Chatters. I’m going to use him as an example of the layering of facial tissues interpreted with modeling clay. Once the 3D print or plastic cast of the original skull is set up in a neutral position on a sculpting stand, and the soft tissue thicknesses determined, (these are designated with eraser markers here.) then the muscles of the face are built up in the proper sequence. After that is cross-checked for anatomical accuracy, then the skin and fatty tissue layer is modeled into place to give us a face. Finally, the age of the individual at the time of death is created with lines of age and environmental influences taken into account.

Muscle layer on skull casting of Spirit Cave Man

Muscle layer on skull casting of Spirit Cave Man

meet Spirit Cave Man

meet Spirit Cave Man

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As I stated in an earlier blog, I was invited to work in partnership with Dr. James Chatters to create a forensic facial reconstruction of “Naia,” a 15 year old girl, who died 12,800 years ago and whose skeletal remains were discovered in the Yucatan, Mexico in 2007. As Jim and I worked on the reconstruction, we were photographed by the National Geographic Society and filmed for an upcoming documentary by NOVA. Jim and I worked together on the reconstruction of Kennewick Man in 1997, and on a couple of other facial reconstructions, including Spirit Cave Man. The process of facial reconstruction is a complicated and tightly controlled effort, involving a system of interpreting the facial tissue layers with clay over a 3D digital reproduction of the persons skull. The National Geographic Society just published their article, “First Americans,” in the January, 2015 issue. More on this later. Stay tuned.

3D print of Naia's skull by Jim Chatters & Tom McClelland

3D print of Naia’s skull by Jim Chatters & Tom McClelland

Naia reconstruction almost completed by Jim Chatters & Tom McClelland

Naia reconstruction almost completed by Jim Chatters & Tom McClelland

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The Word

The totally recycled and rebuilt “The News!” sculpture is now finished and ready for exhibiting and purchase. It is now entitled “The Word.” If you look at the pictures, you’ll see why. With the rebuild, the piece took on an altered content from the earlier sculpture, but the general idea is very similar, since the content has always been about the history of written language from earliest pictographs to modern digital symbols. I like the physical form of this new piece better than the older form, as it is simpler and includes the stainless digital symbols. The coloration is also changed as the patina was completely altered from the earlier sculpture. So, I have this new piece to offer to you collectors out there. Come one, come all! P.O.R.

"The Word" by Tom bronze & stainless steel

“The Word” by Tom
bronze & stainless steel

"The Word" detail

“The Word” detail

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An Open Mind

I have been working on several new sculptures lately, as mentioned in my last entry. I completed a couple of them and have another under development, which is entitled “An Open Mind.” It is still in the clay stage, and will be cast into bronze at a later date. I have included a picture here of the piece in process. The book forms you see will be developed in clay, like the head of the woman, and then I will mold the piece to produce waxes for casting into metal. This sculpture was inspired by my own on-going interest in book learning and education and has a twist of humor to it. The head is approximately 3/4 life size. I think “An Open Mind” would make a great piece for a library, educational center, or private home. If anyone is interested in commissioning a bronze edition of this sculpture, please let me know through this web site, and I will work up a quote on the cost.

"An Open Mind" by Tom in the clay stage.

“An Open Mind” by Tom in the clay stage.

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