Friday, August 15, 2008

Completion in Sight

8/12/08 Tuesday
My team of sheet steel fabricators have completed the tack welds and created the mounting structure at the base of the sculpture. Yesterday, I had to be really persistent, regarding the materials used for the construction of the mounting structure. The team wanted to go the inexpensive route with regular steel, this would lead to rust staining the granite base and eventually to the failure of the structure. I convinced them that we use the same material as the sculpture, for real permanence. The team really does aim to please and follows my instructions, I enjoy that type of mutual respect that is generated here, the can do attitude that just fills the air here. There is no debate, no sense of anyone trying to get into a pissing contest with you, just everyone doing the best that we can, to try and produce the finest works possible, for everyone to enjoy. Shau Yu was a tremendous help today, while I really got into some serious sculpting, he worked diligently to prepare the fourth and final section of the sculpture, making it ready for me to begin cutting it with the design. Although there is plenty of work left after I finish the clay modeling, the plaster mold, the fiberglass replica, and the work that needs to be done at the foundry, I see light at the end of the tunnel. The day ended with Chun Hua nagging me to stop and clean up…”the bus is here, don’t be late” and kidded me that I really was a work-a-holic, something that I believe is admired here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Work, Play and Food!

8/11/08 Monday
Working in the studio is not as loud now, however, it is filled with the toxic odor of fiberglass resin. Some artists are finished with their clay modeled sculptures and the team of mold makers have come into the studio and have begun pulled the piece molds off of them, and are beginning to lay in the fiber glass. The fiberglass is used to create a mock-up sculpture that will be on display during the symposium while the molds are taken to the foundry and used in the process to cast the bronzes. It is quite a complicated substitution process, and difficult for people to wrap their head around the concepts used to cast bronze. The fumes from the fiberglass resin are really not good for your health, so we are looking for charcoal respirators to filter the air, we should have them by tomorrow. The photos above are some of the activities and goings on in the studio… mostly hard work but, at times there are moments for clowning around. Ryan from Aruba is taking time-out to do a little jump rope, to the delight of the assistants and interpreters. Outside work was in full swing on my second sculpture to be made of stainless steel, WASAI!!!. I have three assistants working on it and they are very competent, I mostly need to inspect their work and make sure that they understand how to assemble it correctly. Already one section had been placed on the wrong side and upside down, this they quickly corrected and so I have made it a point to check their progress every hour. Also pictured are the activities out in the stonecutters yard. About every four days a huge crane comes in and turns stone sculptures over or stands them in the upright position so sculptors can work the different surfaces. It’s a blast to see their progress each day but it’s noisy, dusty, strenuous work and these artists go at it all day in the hot sun.

Working and then Rest

8/09/08 Saturday
I finished coping cut sheets in the morning and then went over them with the fabrication team, they had a few questions and through Chun Hua’s translating it seemed that every one was on the same page. They started immediately and by the end of the day had made some real progress. I returned inside to the big studio and set to work in clay During the afternoon . Everyone was tired today, we had stayed up pretty late watching the Olympics…

8/10/08 Sunday
Full Day Off
Worked on this blog and went out and about in the city. Pics are of little taxi cars that are three wheeled, Chun Hua in the market and stainless piece.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day of the Olympics-Wasai!!!

8/08/08 Friday
Artists were informed that today after dinner we would all be able to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in the hotel lobby, anticipation is palpable and I’m excited too. Chun Hua was tired today and didn’t show at the studio in the morning but did come in for the afternoon. There seemed to be extra energy in the studio today, Yu had moved an additional 500 pounds of clay into the workspace, which will be enough to completely fill the final forth form. Forth and final block of clay (above,and out of order) for the bronze sculpture. Some interesting information, to date, the amount of clay used by the artists is presently setting at seventeen tons, Oh my gosh…that’s 34,000 pounds, and four artists have not yet begun to place clay on to their armatures. Shau Yu as I call him now, it’s like saying Johnny for John, continued in the late morning placing clay over the steel armature in to the fourth form. I was spending the morning (and afternoon) coping the paper cut sheets for the stainless piece, for the fabrication team. This meant that Shau Yu would have to pack the fourth form by himself, not an easy job, I checked him once in a while to see if there were any problems. He worked very hard today and it was a long one.
Most all the artists assembled in the lobby ten minutes before eight o’clock for the Opening ceremony, the Changchun media was present and halfway through the ceremony I was “on deck” for an interview. It was pretty standard, oh the fame, paparazze everywhere…all I really wanted to do was watch the ceremony, which was utterly spectacular, words can’t describe the splendor. China can be proud and England should be nerves, China’s Opening Ceremony will be tough act to follow. Chun Hua had a great idea, she is going to the famous park that we had done to earlier, (the one with the group photo) to watch the Olympics with thousands of other people. She will have a video and I will get it up on the blog soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My B-day in China

It’s my Birthday today, wow, here I am in china working on my sculpture and on top of that I have been given a very nice gift, yep, the committee is accepting my proposal to create the second sculpture. I found this out before lunch and have met with the metal fabrication team to compile a materials list. We all seem to be on the same page and now it is up to me to come up with copy cut sheets for them to use. 4mm thick stainless for the side sections and 2mm for the relief faces front and back, and it is high grade 316 stainless steel. I’m really exited, these two works will be beautiful complements to one another.
There will be no work in the afternoon because of the visit to the park and the dinner talent show that the interpreters are putting on. Some of the artists are performing as well, we were all looking forward to an afternoon off. After lunch we all piled onto two buses and off we went. First stop a beautifully forested park surrounding a man made lake. We went on a nature walk into the woods and found the lake, it was cool by Saipan standards and I really enjoyed it, as usual there was great conversations that Chun Hua and I engage in. No one knew that it is my B-day…I am thinking. (pic of Chun Hua, Lu and committee member). From the park we piled into the buses and made our way to a very pleasant restaurant, a sort of eatery and winery combination. As soon as we had been seated, the food began coming and coming, “heaps” (as Samual Ludden my Kiwi friend would say). The interpreters had sang a welcoming song about the Olympics, the excitement was thick in the air, this was the day before the opening ceremony in Beijing and it looked they were ready to bust. The performance was great and there was a real spirit fun friendship in the air.
I found out at soon that the committee had been making plans, I have no doubt that Chun Hua was involved to some degree, right after, here comes the three layer cake and a bouquet of flowers…yep for me. Wasai!! (wow) I was surprised, the song was sung and the cake was cut, and I made a few toasts to our hosts and to my fellow artists and friends. How cool is that!! B-day in China WASAI!!!. The performances continued by students and artists, from musical instruments, to solo singers, to group singing and bongos played as back-up by Ryan from the island of Aruba. Of particular interest to me, was Chun Hua’s solo performance of a Korean dance which she learned because her home village is just across the river from North Korea. See the picture. She is quite the talent and I enjoyed her dance immensely.

Hatching of an Idea

8/05/08 Tuesday
While working in the studio this morning, I began to think… wow, what if I could still do the stainless steel piece? Have the two, standing together as a pair. The bronze with texture, and some polished reflective surfaces, the warmth of the bronze, and the stainless steel highly polished and reflective and cool. I had noticed that a few other artists had two works in progress or were working on a new maquette, and the studio had settled down a bit. I had established good relationships with committee members and they had seen my work in progress, which gave them a better idea of my capabilities, maybe, just maybe they will go for it. I needed to roll it around in my head a bit and bounce it off some other artists…it’s worth a try.
We had lunch, and we (Michael, Angela, Chun Hua and I) had made plans to go on a mission, take a taxi and go shopping in the afternoon looking for a sculpture tool (art supply) store. We had it on good authority there was a large store, so we were off. Well, the art supply store was very small and not well stocked, we managed to purchase a few items and at super low cost, one quarter of what I’d pay in Saipan. We look across the street and right on the corner … to our surprise is a Micky D’s. We had to see if the French fries tasted the same and if the quality control was up to snuff in China… final verdict… the same. With a large fry and a coke as mid-afternoon snack, we headed back to the sculptor’s studio and Michael and I discussed the idea of the second sculpture construction, he agreed it was worth a try. I began cutting the designs into the second clay block as if I were cutting stone, it’s called the subtractive process and it is a lot easier than stone, if too much comes off just add some and cut again… unlike stone, once it’s off, it’s gone. It has been a very good day.

8/06/08 Wednesday
I pulled the third clay blocks form off and began the packing of the final fourth clay block…finally. This morning, mid-morning, I proposed the idea of the sister sculpture in stainless steel to the symposium committee members through Chun Hau’s interpretation. It was hard to read the one member that I spoke with, he thought it would be very beautiful, but he would discuss it with the others, it seemed favorable. I’m sure there are budget matters and the availability sheet metal assistants. The more I think about it the more I really want to do it. But on to the work at hand, sculpting the relief into the first block. This work went slow at first, but I began to get a rhythm and managed to knock it out in good order. Yu and another assistant, who had little to do working with another artist (Theodor Bonev from St. Martin) came over or was assigned to me… who knows, but it was greatly appreciated by Yu and myself. Yu (above) is rigging the steel tree armature before placing it in the plywood form and adding clay around it. Top photo, Chun Hua and Yu demonstrating the proper form for "hang loose". the Chun Hua left to see to some sort of partly for tomorrow that is to be at a lake…the details are sketchy at best and I’m sure it has nothing to do with my B-day. Yep the big five-O. No one knows… I think.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Need for Tools-Let's Shop ;-D

8/04/08 Monday
The meals for the sculptors are well prepared and of great variety, lunch is the most extensive and varied, all are buffet style. I have focused my selections almost all on fresh or steamed veggies as well as on the great selections of fresh fruit. The real treat is steamed full shrimp for breakfast and water melon at every setting. The work and energy at the studio puts a strain on even the most wholesome meal and we all look forward to lunch the most. I worked in the studio in the morning today, progress is going good and the loud booming noises of the first week have subsided to a low background rumble now, as sculptors begin to focus their attention on modeling clay and less on the construction of armature building. Yu my assistant is still out sick with a toothache, so I was assigned substitutes, which had slowed things down because they are not on the same page, but they are eager to learn and very willing to help in any way.
The studio is a little light on sculpting tools, I’ve made a major tool from a really nice chunk of 316 stainless steel, called a toothed rib, but we still need some others. Michael and I have yet another mission, to find some sponges and some files…and stuff.
There is, we are told a very large all in one store two city blocks square, so once again we are in the trusted hands of our interpreters. We grab a taxi from outside the gate of the studio grounds and head off on another wild ride into the city. Within 10 minutes and 16 Yuan later we’re at the most closely packed little shops that have a large array of items, all we have to do is find it. Chun Hua after a modest amount of inquiry leads the way into a maze that seemingly goes forever…watch out Wall-mart. (Changchun has a Wall-mart…that’s another trip) We found what we came after and even gifts for the family. Above photo of the tent like structures in the sculpture park, I have not been up close and on that side of the park's big.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's Just a Walk in the Park

8/03/08 Sunday
In the morning I looked out the hotel window and the sky was clear, no smog at all, b-e-a-utiful and cool. Work at the studio progressed at a rapid pace even without my assistant Yu, was out with a tooth infection. He had stopped in briefly just to let me know what was going on, he looked swollen on the left side of his lower jaw, no joking with him today because I could tell he was in pain. Chun Hua found another assistant to help me, one not needed by another artist for today, which was lucky for me. I felt back to my old self today, I think I slept better, or I may have been fighting off a bug, whatever the case, I worked hard all morning and lunch came quickly. After lunch Michael Warrick and I had discussed going to a huge market that we heard about from other artists. The plan was to go back to the studio and pick up our interpreters, then grab a cab to the market and be back to the studio before the bus arrived to pick us up. However, after we returned to the studio after lunch, we both wanted to do a little work on our sculptures, and before you know it I couldn’t stop. We were all forced to stop for a brief moment for photo opportunity just outside the main entrance to the studio. (Pictured above) The plan to go shopping just kept getting pushed back, much to the disappointment of our female interpreters who like to shop. After that, Chun Hua accused me of being a workaholic. Regardless, the third plywood form was half full (I prefer to look at it that way) by 3:30, I figured that it was a good place to stop, get away from the noise of the studio, and have Chun Hua take me for a walk into the park to enjoy the sunny weather. This made her quite happy again and she was a delight chattering on about many interesting subjects about Chinese culture, in addition to tongue twisters in English and Chinese…”what are woodchucks, and rubber baby…what” ?