'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

The base for the sculpture will be a jade boulder. I visited a stone supplier in Whitehorse, called SidRock, when I was in town for the Yukon Seasons unveiling. He had a large assortment of boulders and we chose this one for the base.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
A cardboard template (above) was prepared, which I have brought back to the studio to determine where the hole will be drilled for the stand, upon which I will mount the horns and bronze.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
Sid McKeown (pictured above) will also level the bottom, so that it will sit flat.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
It is a lovely, clear green colour in its natural state, so will need very little other work.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

In this phase, I have continued to refine the shapes in relation to each other and to work the base level around the horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3 (carved musk oxen horn)
Step 4

In this phase, several sequential pictures from the past two months illustrate progress as the depths of the background and abstract shapes are established and refined. It has been interesting to discover just how much material is available for carving within a musk oxen horn. The texture and colour of the horn changes from the upper, white, striated, surface, through the middle, clear, toffee-coloured section to the inner, dark and striated core.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 3

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 2

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 1
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Male Seahorse', 2007 by Shane Wilson - Stand (moose antler carving)

The commissioner of the Seahorses decided not to mount them in a shadow box, as I had anticipated. Instead, he created elegantly simple metal bases to allow the sculptures to present as freestanding.

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
While I initially preferred that the backs of the sculptures not be exposed (since they are unfinished), the stands do compliment the Seahorses quite well.

I have been told that visitors to the commissioner's house have remarked with amazement about the contrast between the rough antler and the finished carving. Check out the video clip (link below).

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
The Seahorses can be removed from the stands for closer examination due to the use of rare earth magnets, embedded in the wood backing, which otherwise secure the sculptures to the stands.

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)

LINKS: YouTube - One visitor's reaction to the Seahorses
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Female Seahorse', 2007 by Shane Wilson - Stand (moose antler carving)

The commissioner of the Seahorses decided not to mount them in a shadow box, as I had anticipated. Instead, he created elegantly simple metal bases to allow the sculptures to present as freestanding.

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
While I initially preferred that the backs of the sculptures not be exposed (since they are unfinished), the stands do compliment the Seahorses quite well.

I have been told that visitors to the commissioner's house have remarked with amazement about the contrast between the rough antler and the finished carving. Check out the video clip (link below).

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
The Seahorses can be removed from the stands for closer examination due to the use of rare earth magnets, embedded in the wood backing, which otherwise secure the sculptures to the stands.

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)

LINKS: YouTube - One visitor's reaction to the Seahorses
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

The wax has been cast in bronze by 'In Bronze' based in Langley, B.C. The final grinding (chasing) and finishing (patina) have yet to be done. I'll complete the carving of the horns before going further on the skull, in order to ensure that the skull's design remains consistent with the overall design.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 5 (carved bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 5 (carved bronze skull)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Plans

The display cases have been designed to house the Skullpture Series. Note how the display case will fit nicely into the beautiful curved staircase of the St. Elias Convention Centre. The architect for the Convention Centre was contracted to develop the plans for the cases, so that that they would appear consistent with the overall design.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Plans (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)
Skullpture Display Case - Plans

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 4 (carved bronze skull)
I have completed roughing in the left and right sides of the wax wolf skull. Each side's design echos elements from the carving below it. The balance of the skull will remain uncarved, to remain consistent with the tips of the horns and to keep the focus of the whole on the carving itself.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 4 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
In this phase a negative space has been created along the length of the nose and forehead to echo the space between the two horns. I have begun to add the abstract detail to the left side and experiment with negative space around these details. This type of wax is not ideal for carving, since it is very soft and somewhat sticky, however the main shapes and design elements can be roughed out easily enough. The final detail will be honed in the bronze itself, after casting.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
The manner in which the bronze wolf skull and muskoxen horns will be mounted together has been much on my mind. As a temporary measure, you can see that I am using pieces of styrofoam to position the skull. As for a permanent solution, it would be a shame to add a support element that distracts or obscures the carving. I think I like the idea of the skull floating (or appearing to float) above the carved horns. A clear acrylic pillar may be the best solution, allowing the skull and horns to be fixed together, while appearing as if one is floating above the other. The pillar could extend through the horns to a base, allowing the horns to float above the base as well.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
In this phase the wax skull has been reduced to clean the lines and remove excess material from the bottom of the skull. The nose and eyebrow portion have been textured along the nose to mimic the rough portion of the musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
In the picture below, you can see some of the tools used to sculpt wax: dental pics, wax carving tools, scewdriver, butane torch, wax paper, heat pencil.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

I have given the skull portion of this sculpture much thought. The human skull does not seem to work with the overall design. I find it too large for the carved horns, overwhelming them. Experimenting with different skull possibilities, I believe I have found a skull which works much better with the carved horn, a wolf skull.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 1 (carved bronze skull)
Not only are wolves and musk oxen found together on the tundra, the design of the skull works well with the architecture of the horns. The lines within the skull mimic the curve of the horns and the overall effect of the skull and horn set is an organic unity resembling a prehistoric bird, a pteradacyl-like creature.

So, while the original design intention remains, that of a self-portrait, a second layer of design complexity is added, that of the possibility that this creation is a creature unto itself. Perhaps this serendipity of design illustrates how one's life-work can take on a life of its own?

The image shows the skull in its wax form, prior to carving and casting. The next step is to carve the wax, so that the pattern reflects and amplifies the overall design of the carved antler. The skull is positioned facing right, or the future, considering possiblities yet to be ...

(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have roughed out the first portion of the design on the right horn. The depth of the carving has not yet been established, but the initial pattern is in evidence. I have used the NSK micromotor tool with a 3/32" rounded burr to outline the design and a 1/8" inverted cone to remove waste and create definition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2
I have roughed out the first portion of the design on the left horn. The depth of the carving has not yet been established, but the initial pattern is in evidence. I have used the NSK micromotor tool with a 3/32" rounded burr to outline the design and a 1/8" inverted cone to remove waste and create definition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design on the right horn is more complicated and yet more unified than that on the left. It signals a consolidation of the self-identity and life-work of the individual.

This consolidation, and the working through of the accumulated dross of one's life, yields precious fruit, one's legacy.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design on the left side represents the first half of life, up to middle age. In an abstract way, it will illustrate the formation of self and its tentative, creative efforts at identity and life-work. I have retained some of the original horn surface, serving to illustrate the dross we inevitably produce as we go along.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (musk oxen horns and bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, start (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

The intention for this commission, is that I carve something of my own design from a set musk oxen horns and partial skull.

The horns come from Banks Island in the Northwest Territories. Musk Oxen were reintroduced on the island some years ago and have flourished, due in part to lack of natural predation. It is therefore necessary to cull the herd each year, to keep the size of the herd sustainable, and it is from this cull that these horns were taken.

After playing with a variety of ideas for this sculpture, I have settled on the notion of an abstract self-portrait, combining the musk ox horn with a bronze human skull. The horn lends itself to a life 'story', starting narrowly in the black on one side (birth), growing to a massive middle with a break (midlife), and narrowing again to black on the other side (death). The skull presides over its life story and remains, along with some of life's fruit, when the story is done.


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