'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The final sculpture in the Skullpture Series, Gaia, has been installed in its permanent home in the custom made display cases in the St Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon.

The unveiling will take place on Saturday, November 21, 2009, during a community celebration of Haines Junction's 25th year of incorporation as a municipality.


'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case - 3/4 view) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case - side view) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

The first stop in Whitehorse was Sidrock, to pick up the jade base for Self Portrait.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
Sid successfully drilled the hole into the jade, but the only suitable bit size was slightly smaller than the white plastic cup prepared for the acrylic stand, so he had the cup machined to reduce its external diameter, making for a precise fit.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
The jade boulder was left in its original condition, apart from the hole and some leveling on the bottom surface.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
The above pictures were taken in the preparation room at the Yukon Arts Centre, prior to the unveiling.

Note how the overall colour of the piece changes with different lighting, including the reflected light from the jade boulder.

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

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

LINKS: Gaia - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Gaia, 2009' by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 left) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 right) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (left antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (right antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 left skull) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 right skull) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait, 2009' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

LINKS: Self Portrait - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

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

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'Self Portrait' - Photography Session with Gary Wildman

Following the completion of any sculpture, it is important to have it photographed professionally.

Gary Wildman photographed 'Rest and Sing' a number of years ago and I called upon him again to photograph both 'Gaia' and 'Self Portrait.'


Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Self Portrait'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, photographs 'Self Portrait'

Gary took the utmost care, spending hours getting the lighting and exposures just right, to perfectly capture the sculptures as digital images - not an easy thing to do!

He is a true professional and a joy to work with! Visit his website at
www.wildmanphotography.com .
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' - Photography Session with Gary Wildman

Following the completion of any sculpture, it is important to have it photographed professionally.

Gary Wildman photographed 'Rest and Sing' a number of years ago and I called upon him again to photograph both 'Gaia' and 'Self Portrait.'


Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Gaia'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, lines up a photograph of 'Gaia'

Gary took the utmost care, spending hours getting the lighting and exposures just right, to perfectly capture the sculptures as digital images - not an easy thing to do!

Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Gaia'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, photographs 'Gaia'

He is a true professional and a joy to work with! Visit his website at www.wildmanphotography.com .
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The sculpture is complete, with the addition of the signature and title. Since the sculpture can be separated into three distinct sections, I decided to sign the sculpture in three places: on each of the carved moose antlers and on the back of the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, bronze skull) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, left antler) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, right antler) by Shane Wilson
Now to travel to Vancouver to have this carved moose antler and bronze skull sculpture called 'Gaia' photographed, then on to Whitehorse and then Haines Junction in the Yukon, where 'Gaia' will find its permanent home.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 24) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

To finish the bronze sculpture is sprayed with two coats of lacquer and protected with two coats of Trewax, lightly buffed between coats.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The final phase of the patination process involves the application of the nitrates and oxides, in this case: cupric nitrate, ferric nitrate, chromium oxide and yellow ferric oxide.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
These are applied while the bronze is heated with a propane torch.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
To fix the colour the surface is quenched with water, then reheated to remove the water.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
To finish the bronze sculpture is sprayed with two coats of lacquer and protected with two coats of Trewax, lightly buffed between coats.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 23) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The next patina to be applied is the 'Moroccan Blue', on the base and the lower portion of the moose skull. The principle component of this patina is cupric nitrate and it is applied on the hot, but not too hot, bronze surface.

In this case, I applied the patina with a large round bristle brush and both painted and flicked the patina onto the surface.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 23) by Shane Wilson
The image above shows the cupric applied to the heated bronze.

With cupric nitrate it is important to watch the heat closely so as not to scorch the patina, which would result in a rainbow coloured effect.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 23) by Shane Wilson
The second image shows the same patina after it has been quenched with water.

The metal is then reheated to remove moisture from the bronze, prior to the application of the final patina, a combination of cupric nitrate, ferric nitrate, chromium oxide and yellow ferric oxide, called 'Italian Green.'

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 22) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The final phase of the patination process involves the application of the nitrates and oxides. The first application is of silver nitrate, dabbed on to the hot metal with a round bristle brush. The heat draws the silver nitrate from the brush, creating the ring-like patterns.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 22) by Shane Wilson
The metal is quenched with water to set the silver patina onto the bronze moose skull, then the area is rubbed back with steel wool.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Next the surface of the bronze sculpture is rubbed with #1 steel wool and the rougher recesses are scrubbed with a natural bristle brush, exposing a deep steel gray.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 10 (carved bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 10 (carved bronze skull)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 21) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Next the surface of the bronze sculpture is rubbed with #1 steel wool and the rougher recesses are scrubbed with a natural bristle brush, exposing a deep steel gray.


(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The next step is to rinse the bronze sculpture after about 30 seconds then heat the bronze surface slowly and evenly until hot and the colour begins to change.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 9 (carved bronze skull)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 20) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The bronze is then heated slowly and evenly until hot and the colour begins to change. For a sculpture this size, a propane fired 'Tiger Torch' is advisable, on a lowered setting.



(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 19) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

When the Birchwood Casey has been allowed to sit on the bronze surface for 30 seconds, it is rinsed off with cold water.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 19) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

The first step in the patination process is to determine the colour and texture of the desired look. A great book, which provides examples of patinas and their recipes, is Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick Kipper.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 8 (carved bronze skull)
The patina I have chosen for the wolf skull is called 'Italian Marble'. The effect is a dark jade to emerald green over a black base coat. My intention is to reflect the colour of the jade base while retaining a dark undertone to pick up the dark tips of the musk oxen horns.

The first step to create this patina is to spray the surface with a solution of Birchwood Casey (gun blueing) diluted 50% with distilled water. This is applied with a spray bottle onto the cold bronze surface.

You can see that the colour goes from a light copper to blue-black almost immediately.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 18) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The first step in the patination process is to determine the colour and texture of the desired look. A great book, which provides examples of patinas and their recipes, is Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick Kipper.


I have chosen three different patinas for the bronze moose skull and base: 'Moroccan Blue' for the base and the lower portion of the moose skull; 'Italian Marble' for the forehead portion of the moose skull; and, 'Silver' for the mid portion of the moose skull, the raised leaf shape on the forehead and the elongated triangle which joins the base to the skull .

The first step to create these patinas is to spray the entire surface with a solution of Birchwood Casey (gun blueing) diluted 50% with distilled water. This is applied with a spray bottle onto the cold bronze surface.

You can see that the colour goes from a light copper to blue-black almost immediately.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 17) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

For this next phase, 'sandblasting', I searched Nanaimo for a business with a glass bead blaster. Red-D-Arc Welderentals has such a case and Wade Stannard, the proprietor, agreed to allow me its use.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, prepares to glass bead blast. Photo by Bryan Peake

Glass beads take the place of sand in this process and create a finer finish.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, glass bead blasting. Photo by Bryan Peake

Due to the higher cost of the beads, the blasting is done in an enclosed container, so that the beads drop to the bottom of the case and are recycled.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Back at the studio after sandblasting. Note the chemicals in the background, ready to be mixed and applied in the next phase.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

For this next phase, 'sandblasting', I searched Nanaimo for a business with a glass bead blaster. Red-D-Arc Welderentals has such a case and Wade Stannard, the proprietor, agreed to allow me its use.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, glass bead blasting 'Self Portrait'. Photo by Bryan Peake

Glass beads take the place of sand in this process and create a finer finish.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

Due to the higher cost of the beads, the blasting is done in an enclosed container, so that the beads drop to the bottom of the case and are recycled.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

Once the bronze has been cleaned in this way, it is imperative that it not be touched by hand, since the transfer of oils will affect the uptake of the patina by the bronze.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Two of the tines have been reduced on each antler. Turns out it was necessary to reduce about 6 inches total width.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
The device below, consisting of a combination wooden template and marker grid on the floor, helped to establish the actual dimensions of the case and determine cut lines on the tines.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
I'll be bringing one of my NSK micromotor grinders to make final adjustments should they be necessary, once the sculpture is mounted in the permanent display case.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Both moose antlers are now fitted to the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
The case that has been prepared for this sculpture, prior to the creation of the piece, measures 43 1/8" across. Now that I know exactly how wide the sculpture really is, I have discovered that I will need to trim about 3" from the width.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
This will mean reducing the length of the outermost tines on both sides.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 16) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The initial trial fitting has proven successful between the left moose antler and bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 16) by Shane Wilson
The combination of the male/female fit and the rare earth magnet hold the antler and skull together!

This is no mean feat, since the downward force of the antler, out and away from the moose skull, is considerable.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 16) by Shane Wilson
I was very apprehensive about this stage, wondering if indeed the system would work.

I'll spend a few more hours refining the leveling and fit on both sides, before moving on to the next stage, sandblasting and applying the patina!

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Given both the outer dimensions of the male portion and the depth it will penetrate the antler, it is possible to calculate and carve out the negative space in the moose antler butt.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
It is necessary to add the thickness of the magnet and washer to the height of the carved bronze square, and add the thickness of the special steel magnet washer (sold with the magnet and calculated to provide the maximum attractive surface).

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
The depth of the cut is established by drilling pilot holes to the appropriate depth.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
The magnet washer is then attached to the antler with a flat head, stainless steel wood screw. When I am satisfied with the fit, the washer will be epoxied into each antler butt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The bronze skull has been drilled to mount the 1" rare earth magnet (Lee Valley Tools).

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
I have used a brass washer under the magnet to separate the stainless steel from the bronze to prevent the two metals from reacting with each other.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
The rare earth magnet is fastened to the skull with a brass machine screw, washers and bolt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the square male portion has been rough carved onto the skull, calculating the dimensions by eye.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
It will need to be leveled and trued to form a close fit with the moose antler butt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I have decided to use a square shape, cut into the bronze moose skull, to act as the male portion of the fit between antler and skull.


It is important to check whether the size and shape of the male fitting can be cut into the antler butt without jeopardizing the structural integrity of the antler.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Heavy, heavy work! The chasing process on the moose skull is now nearly complete.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
During the grinding portion of the chasing process, the flexible shaft on the Foredom H Series snapped under the strain. Fortunately I have two S Series models as back up!

I used 1/4" carbide, double fluted burrs to grind and smooth the surface, then sanded the entire sculpture with an angle grinder and flap wheel disk.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
The next step involves fitting the bronze skull to the moose antlers and then installing the rare earth magnets.

Once this is finished, the whole will be sanded again, then sandblasted and the patina applied. I'm still not sure what colour that will be ...

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The chasing process is complete. The bronze appears in its natural colour.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
I used a variety of carbide, double fluted burrs and diamond burrs to remove irregularities in the surface and finish the 'carving' process.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The surface was sanded with various flap wheels mounted on the 1/2 HP Foredom Flexible Shaft Grinder.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The next step is to prepare the surface to receive the patina. This will involve sandblasting the bronze to remove oils and impurities that are residual from the casting and chasing processes.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
Because the natural colouration of the bronze is similar to the musk oxen horn, with which it will be displayed, my plan is to apply a basic blue-black patina and then scrub it back to reveal the natural bronze highlights.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The blue-black colour will create magnificent shadows and bring out the three dimensionality of the sculpture.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The right moose antler is nearing completion. The design elements are now fully carved.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
What remains is a once over to clean and sand the antler, smooth out the edges on the back of the antler that intersect with the design and then polish the whole.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
The butt of the antler will be fitted to the skull and equipped with rare earth magnets to form a non-permanent, but solid, connection with the skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
I am considering the idea of naming the sculpture "Gaia", after the theory of a living earth propounded by James Lovelock.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The moose skull portion has returned from the foundry and is ready to be chased and patinated.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
Notice the nubs where the sprues have been removed. These will be ground down and disappear entirely during the chasing process.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The discolouration due to the welding process, where the moose skull was affixed to the base, will also be removed during the chasing process.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The join between the base post and the skull will appear to be seamless in the finished work.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The carving seems to be designing itself as I go along. As the other half has become a flowing tapestry of life, particularly marine life, this half has adopted a linear, modern, industrial/technical feel.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
Lately, I have been wondering about my longstanding preoccupation with the theme of duality, as reflected in the curves and angles of my sculpture.

The theme of duality represents polar opposite aspects of the human condition: left-right, rational-spiritual, capitalism-socialism, synthetic-natural, fundamentalism-freedom, complexity-simplicity, wealth-poverty, light-dark, us-them, open-closed, off-on, and so on.

It is hard to name an issue, problem, or topic where there isn't controversy or polarization.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
But why do these aspects of duality, represented by curved and angled shapes, seem to want to appear together in my sculpture, creating a new, integrated form?

Perhaps the integration of opposites in my sculpture suggests an approach to resolving the dilemmas we face in our time: a holding together of opposite points of view or approaches within one solution.

One of the great problems we face today is human generated climate heating, predicted to adversely affect everyone and everything on Earth.

The integrative approach suggests the solution to climate heating will be found in both nature and technology, working together.

The climate crisis offers humanity the potential for a new beginning: a symbiotic relationship with all other living organisms and the planet itself.

That's a lot of freight for a few angles and curves in bone and bronze!

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Full Musk Oxen Horn - Final Phase) by Shane Wilson

The final phase of work on the musk ox horns is complete.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The detailed carving on the right horn is finished and the horn sanded to about 320 grit with flap wheels mounted on the Foredom H Series grinder. It was also necessary to clean the horn with a damp cloth to remove residue from the stand making process.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
Compressed air was used to remove carving debris and dust from the recesses of the carved horn and bone, then a few coats of lacquer were applied (from a spray can).

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The lacquer seals and protects the surface of the carving and enables the wonderful translucent properties of the musk ox horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The last portion of this sculpture to be completed will be the bronze wolf skull, which needs to be chased and patinated.
(musk ox horn carving, musk ox horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

The acrylic stand is now complete, so I travelled to Vancouver today to pick it up and was absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
Robert Spicer, Associated Plastics, with "Self Portrait" and the acrylic stand he created

Robert Spicer created the minimalist stand to be virtually invisible, while getting the job done positioning two heavy, irregular objects, fixed in space relative to each other. The effect of the bronze wolf skull appearing to float above the musk ox horns has been achieved.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
Robert Spicer, adjusting the acrylic stand for the carved bronze and musk ox horn sculpture "Self Portrait"

Robert reports having extensive experience building displays for a variety of venues and museums, including the National Gallery in Ottawa, and says that this project was by far his most difficult project to date.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
The cardboard template, seen at the top of the picture above, will now be marked and sent to Sidrock, where the nylon receiving cup will be inserted into the jade boulder base.

To see how the stand works, check out the video below, which I have included primarily for the benefit of the curatorial staff at the Yukon Art Centre Gallery, where the sculpture will reside as a permanent donation.


LINKS: Instructional Video for Installing Sculpture on Stand

NOTE: Podcasts will no longer be available on iTunes. All material has been moved to YouTube where clips can be viewed and downloaded.

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

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The left moose antler is nearing completion. The design elements are now fully carved.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
What remains is a once over to clean and sand the antler, smooth out the edges on the back of the antler that intersect with the design and then polish the whole.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
Once the bronze moose skull returns from the foundry, the butt of the antler will be fitted to the skull and equipped with rare earth magnets to form a non-permanent, but solid, connection with the skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

Associated Plastics forwarded these shots to establish the correct position of the bronze skull above the carved musk ox horns.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 5
They nailed it this time!

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 5
Once the acrylic has been cut and adhered to the column, it will be rounded over and polished.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the carving of shape and detail has been extended into the midsection of the left moose antler (seen upside down).

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
Several decisions were made concerning design elements to be kept, changed or lost during the carving process. Can you spot them?

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
In order to work the surface to create a smooth appearance, the 1/8" rounded over cone, high speed steel burr, from Dremel was used.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
To create sharp edges and borders, I used the 1/8" expanded cylinder high speed steel burr, also from Dremel.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson
I have worked the lower portion of the left moose antler, refining the design and bringing the carving near to its final stage.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson
The design attempts to make use of the massive thickness of antler in this section for shape and contour, while making it seem, at the same time, as light as air.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

In this phase the design of the acrylic stand has been further worked to include the modifications we discussed last time.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
You can see that the mount for the bronze skull has been modified to extend it out from the acrylic column and a device has been created to hold the skull in place from within.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
Pins have been substituted for screws in the portion of the stand that clamps onto the musk oxen horns.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
Also, the extension has been shortened to reposition the horns closer to the acrylic column.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
The only modification remaining is to correctly position the bronze wolf skull over the musk oxen horns.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the lower portion of the left moose antler has been carved, further roughing out the design while feeling my way along to the proper placement of the various shapes relative to each other.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
Since this area will project towards the viewer, it is important to consider how the design will look not only from above but also from the front.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have gone over the whole surface of the antler to refine the shapes and smooth the surfaces.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The principle tool used was the NSK EMax with 1/8" cone and rounded over straight burrs.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
For the refinements to the outline of the sculpture along the moose antler tines, I used the larger 1/4" straight burr on the S Series Foredom.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
I had to be careful while using the Foredom, to keep the flexible shaft in as open a curve as possible to avoid stress on the inner wire. There were occasions where I need to bend the shaft in an acute manner for brief periods, so it was necessary to monitor the sheathing for overheating.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have returned to the right antler to finish roughing out the lower moose antler palm and the central section which joins the antler palms.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The diamonds and spheres or 'bubbles' have been positioned in and around the borders in the central section. Due to the thickness of the moose antler at this point, the effort required to rough in these shapes has been considerable.

Note that three of the tines have been trimmed for consistency of design. They will be shaped later so as not to be noticeable as cut.

The angular theme is carried out onto the bottom moose antler palm, with some curvy accents.


Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The Foredom S Series with a variety of 1/4" burrs with the addition of the NSK Electer and 1/8" and 3/32" burrs were used to rough out and do the preliminary cleaning in this phase.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the wax moose skull was taken to In Bronze Foundry in Langley, B.C. Canada to be cast in bronze.

Francois Deschenes, In Bronze Foundry and Shane Wilson, Sculptor, discuss moose skull bronze
Francois Deschenes, In Bronze, Langley, B.C. Canada and Shane Wilson, Sculptor

Once the two parts are cast (moose skull and base), Francois will weld them together and level the base so that it sits flat.

Francois Deschenes, In Bronze Foundry tallies Shane Wilson's moose skull bronze
Francois Deschenes from In Bronze, calculates the cost to cast "Skullpture Moose"

According to Francois' calculations, the bronze elements will weigh a little over 36kgs or 80lbs when complete.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

Today was a travel day to Vancouver, B.C. Canada. My first stop was Associated Plastics to meet with Lloyd and Rob regarding the acrylic stand for the musk ox horn and bronze wolf skull sculpture, "Self Portrait."

They have done a fantastic job inventing a stand that has the strength necessary for supporting the entirety of the sculpture, while maintaining the pieces in their appropriate positions relative to each other.

Lloyd and Rob, Associated Plastics and Acrylic Pedestal
Lloyd and Rob from Associated Plastics in Vancouver, B.C. Canada

There were several modifications required, which they were happy to implement.

The part of the stand holding the musk oxen horns will be shortened to draw the horns closer to the main column, placing it under the bronze wolf skull.

The wolf skull mount will be modified to extend it over the horns below, while centering it over the division of the horns.

Finally the silver screws will be replaced with black pins and a black ring cap will be machined to sit atop the white cup which will be inset into the jade boulder to receive the column.


Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 3
It is expected that the modifications will be completed over the next couple of weeks.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

To create the base, I borrowed a large stainless steel bowl from the kitchen (yes, it will likely need to be replaced) and brushed several layers of wax in the shape intended for the base. I brushed wax over a larger area than I planned to use, and cut it back once the wax was removed from the bowl mold.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The next step was to fashion and attach an upright bar with triangular profile, which will be welded to the back of the bronze moose skull nose, meshing seamlessly from the front with the triangular element in the nose.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The entire surface of the base was flamed with the torch to even the surface and thin the wax to casting tolerances. Again, the wax is a little thicker, to accommodate the weight of the sculpture and form a stable anchor.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Once cast in bronze, the base will be ground to lie flat. I am considering possible design elements to be carved into the base, but may leave it as is with a simple patina, so as not to distract attention from the bronze moose skull and antler sculpture above.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Three views of the wax moose skull prior to the journey to the foundry to be cast in bronze.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
The remainder of the design has been carved into the wax: pointed ovals on the left side and extended diamonds on the right side, to correspond to the elements in the respective carved moose antlers.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
It is important to note that the work of creating the sculpture in bronze does not end with the wax. Once the skull is cast in bronze it will be possible to further refine the design and add carved embellishments.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In addition to the design considerations, wax has been melted away from the underside of the moose skull with a torch. The optimum thickness for the wax is 3/8". I have left the wax thicker across the skull and along the nose, to create additional support in the bronze for the weight of the antlers.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

After several days working a variety of designs on paper, I have settled for something relatively simple that focuses on three design elements from the carved moose antlers: circles or bubbles, extended diamonds and pointed oval shapes.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The central panel of the bronze moose skull will host the circle/bubble element primarily, with one extended diamond element within the nose and extending into the base, and one pointed oval shape in the centre of the forehead.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The principle tool used to shape the wax is a Weller WLC200 Adjustable Power Soldering Station with a Chisel tip.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the wax moose skull halves have been joined and the antler stubs have been capped. This is to accommodate the rare earth magnets which will form part of the attachment mechanism between antler and skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Since the moose antlers I am using for this sculpture were shed by a moose a few years older than the one used for the mold, I have added wax to the upper portion of the skull.

As moose age, the size of the skull remains the same but the thickness of the upper skull and antler stubs increase to accommodate larger antlers, which grow in size and thickness as the moose matures.

This appears visually as a flattening out or smoothing of the upper moose skull.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
It is now time to complete the design for the moose skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Once the top and bottom of the moose skull are trimmed to fit together, I begin the process of trimming the portions of the skull that are not needed in the final sculpture. Due to the weight and cost of bronze, it is essential to use just the right amount of wax in the portion of the skull that will be cast.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
In this pic, I am working primarily on the lower portion of the moose skull. Most of the lower portion of the moose skull will not be visible in the final sculpture, so it is possible to trim most of it. This will also enhance the design of carving on the moose skull, since there won't be an inner, lower surface to distract from the design on the upper portion of the moose skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait has been in Vancouver being fitted on an acrylic support column which will be mounted in the jade base.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 2
The company creating the supporting column and attaching points is Associated Plastics. The concept is great so far, but some adjustments to the positioning of the musk oxen horns and bronze skull elements relative to each other will need to be made.

I am also wondering about the size of the acrylic column. It may be a little large for the sculpture.


Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 2
I'll be traveling to Vancouver next week and will stop in to help determine the adjustments.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The wax halves of the moose skull are trimmed with a heat knife, shown below, and then placed together to determine fit.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
The wax duplicates of each half of the moose skull are then removed from the molds. Note the wax flange that will need to be trimmed away.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I have begun work on the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
A year ago I completed a moose skull mold, taken from the moose skull used in the pics of the Beginning Phase of this sculpture.

Due to the large size of the mold the wax is laid in layer upon layer into the top and bottom sections of the mold until it reaches the desired thickness, about 1/4".

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The changes to the angular portion of the left moose antler marked on the antler in Phase 9 have been carved out using the Foredom grinders and burrs mentioned in previous phases.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have worked to mark refinements in the design of the carved angular portions of the left moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
Complexity of design is an important part of my sculpture. But when the design creates visual confusion, as I believe it did here, it needs to be reworked. The eye should be able to travel freely over the sculpture without becoming 'trapped' or 'mired' in visual 'dead ends' or 'swampy' design.

My goal is complexity without confusion.


Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The angular elements on the left antler had not been completely thought through during the initial design phase and were creating visual confusion.

Since most of the roughing out portion is now complete it is possible to see how the design functions in the actual antler.

After careful study, I have been able to correct the angular portions by creating strips which travel straight until they bend at an angle. They are not all continuous, but serve to frame the rest of the design within the antler as well as providing structural support for the carving.


Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The lower portion of the left moose antler has been marked for further carving adjustments.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In this phase, I have cleaned up the carving on the upper portions of the moose antler using the same tools as the last phase, the Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
The detailed elements evident in the initial design will be added back into the carving when the antler is fully roughed out.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the carving on the right moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
This is the stage where critical choices are made along each border in the design about which planes come forward and which planes recede.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The choices regarding plane placement are a little more straightforward on the right antler. One thing I will need to watch is the depth of the planes relative to the depth available in the antler since there are large multiple intersecting planes each requiring a portion of the depth available.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
As you can see there isn't a lot of depth to work with, so it will be a bit of challenge to create the shapes in a way which does not make the design appear overly flat.

All of the carving at this stage is done with Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the left moose antler has been carved with attention to the lower portion of the antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
I have begun to define the planes on the design elements on the lower palm and establish where all the design elements come together in the butt of the moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Areas left undone at this point include the major tine, with its deformity. I hope to carry the diamond shape over from the right moose antler to use in this area.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Consistent with the work so far, the tools remain the same: Foredom S and H Series, with 1/4" shank burrs (straight and rounded over shapes), and some tight angle work with the NSK and a 1/8" shank straight burr.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I have continued to carve the left moose antler with large Foredom grinders and 1/4" burrs. I have also made some use of the smaller NSK Emax micro-motor with 1/8" burrs to begin to get into some of the tight angles.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In this detail shot you can see how the design elements are beginning to 'find their place' in relation to each other, but the carving is still very rough.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
There is much more antler to work with toward the antler's base, so I will use this depth of material to weave the design elements in greater relief, just hinted at in this preliminary stage.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the carving on the left moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
This is the stage where critical choices are made along each border in the design about which planes come forward and which planes recede.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
All of the carving at this stage is done with Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the left moose antler the negative spaces have been cut out of the antler with the sabre saw/scroll saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Make sure you use good blades of a reasonable narrow width. Mine were DeWalt 3", 12 TPI blades made from cobalt steel.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Normally I go through 10-20 scroll saw blades when cutting the negative spaces from a moose antler before carving. This time, I removed the waste antler from both the left and right moose antlers and only lost one blade!
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the negative spaces in the moose antler have been removed, leaving material around the cuts to refine and adjust the moose antler carving in the next phase.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have drilled the pilot holes in the moose antler with a drill press and begun to 'join the dots' with a sabre saw/jig saw. I used to use a scroll saw with a multidirectional blade for this kind of work, but learned from fellow carver, Lynn Holroyd, that a sabre saw/jig saw works just as well and allows for more control when cutting larger moose antlers, which can be clamped, freeing the hands to work the saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I used the band saw to remove the obvious cuts on the outer edges of the moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
Before cutting out the negative spaces on the inside of the design, it is necessary to drill pilot holes in the moose antler to receive the blade from either a scroll saw or a sabre saw/jig saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
In the past, I used smaller diameter bits in an electric drill, but I have found that the larger diameter bits in a drill press make life a whole lot easier.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

It is always a good idea to let design ideas sit for a while. I find that it is possible to see and correct weak areas and add interest and complexity. The red areas will be removed to create negative space within the design.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
On the right moose antler, this involved simplifying some of the design shapes and the addition of round elements both as negative spaces and positive shapes, again to tie into the design on the left antler and relate to other sculptures in the Skullpture Series.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

It is always a good idea to let design ideas sit for a while. I find that it is possible to see and correct weak areas and add interest and complexity. The red areas will be removed to create negative space within the design.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
On the left moose antler, I have clarified the design shapes, added negative space elements within the shapes and included spherical elements within those shapes. My hope is that the overall design will tie into the previously created sculptures in the Skullpture Series.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the design was transfered free-hand onto the right moose antler, after the moose antler was sanded lightly with an angle grinder to clean and smooth out the surface.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In the next phases I'll determine where the negative spaces will be located within the design, cut those out, and rough in the major planes on the moose antler.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the design was transfered free-hand onto the left moose antler, after the moose antler was sanded lightly with an angle grinder to clean and smooth out the surface.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In the next phases I'll determine where the negative spaces will be located within the design, cut those out, and rough in the major planes on the moose antler.

Skullpture Series - Moose (in
Shane Wilson designing moose antler carving on left moose antler
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I photographed the right moose antler and printed it out on paper to create the design, making use of some of the natural lines within the moose antler. (Note: I am designating this antler as the right antler, since it appears on the right when viewed, so it is the observer's right)

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I photographed the left moose antler and printed it out on paper to create the design, making use of some of the natural lines within the moose antler. (Note: I am designating this antler as the left antler, since it appears on the left when viewed, so it is the observer's left)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Begin) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

This moose antler carving and bronze moose skull will be the final installment in my Skullpture Series, 2007.

Skullpture Series, Moose (moose antler bronze skull - in progress - beginning) by Shane Wilson

The moose antlers will be designed and carved and will attached to a cast carved moose skull. The original skull is shown here and used for measurement purposes.

Skullpture Series, Moose (moose antler bronze skull - in progress - beginning) by Shane Wilson

A mold will be taken from the skull and a wax pulled from that mold. The wax will then be carved with the design and then cast in bronze using the lost wax process.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved moose antler bronze skulls)

This sculpture is designed to fit in this specific location, so the sculpture will need to adhere to very specific dimensions.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson


The front portion of the right musk oxen horn has been completely carved.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)
Now to finish the rear portion of the right musk oxen horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the front side of the right musk oxen horn has been further refined and is almost finished.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 14 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have used various sizes of the ball shaped burr in this phase, starting from the larger ball on a 3/32" shaft, working down to the smallest ball shape available on the same sized shaft.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 14 (carved musk oxen horn)
Remaining to be done are some touch up details, undercuts and the final sanding on the right musk oxen horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

In this phase I have reworked the background again, so that it is uniform around and along the entire right musk oxen horn. This has been challenging due to the shape of the musk oxen horn, which is never uniform as it tapers to the point. I have begun shaping the end of the musk oxen horn, so that it appears to flow out of the design at the same level as the background.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 13 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design has also been further refined and shaped along the entire musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 13 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have been finding that musk oxen horn tends to be very hard on tools, dulling burrs easily and clogging the bearings in the micro-motor grinders which I rely on heavily. I have sent two hand-pieces for repair so far and will likely need to send a third. These hand-pieces cost about $1000 each. To give some sense of the wear and tear of musk oxen horn vs moose or caribou antler, I generally send one hand-piece for repair (new bearings) every two or three years when carving moose or caribou antler. Why the difference? Perhaps it is the toughness of the hair-like material that makes up the musk oxen horn, tougher even than dall sheep horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

These two shots, taken at different angles, show further shaping and refining work on the right musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 12 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 12 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' - On Display In Cases

The carved bronze Skullpture Series is now on display in its permanent home in the St Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada.

Skullpture Series Unveiling in Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Unveiling in Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Unveiling in Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)
All that remains to complete this body of work is the carved moose antler and bronze moose skull sculpture, 'Moose 1', which will be displayed in the large end display case.

Progress on this sculpture can be seen by clicking in the sidebar on Skullpture Series - Moose.
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

LINKS - Skullpture Series Information Sheets on Display:
SkullptureSeries2007
SkullptureSeries-WIP
SkullptureSeries-Bio

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'Skullpture Series' - Display Cases Complete

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

These show cases in the St Elias Convention Centre, a work of art in themselves, are complete and ready to display the carved bronze Skullpture Series. Total cost $53,000 CND. An unveiling of the carved bronze Skullpture Series, in their wonderful new home, is planned for the evening of Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at the Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon.

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'Skullpture Series' by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls) - Artist Statement
"Just as a fossil uncovered is evidence of life, so too, this carved bronze Skullpture Series reflects the architecture of being alive."
Shane Wilson


Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Black Bear 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Grizzly 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Grizzly 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Human 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Human 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Seal 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Seal 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Seal 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Small Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Wolf 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Wolf 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Wolf 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
The entire surface of the right horn has been worked in this phase. The front, broad portion is nearing completion. The mid section is showing some progress but there is much more to be done.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
The brown pencil crayon markings show where I will carve next. I use pencil crayon and not pencil, because the pencil crayon's waxy texture keeps it on the surface of the work, where it is easily carved away. The graphite in a pencil tends to find its way into nooks and crannies, potentially remaining to alter the final finish.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk ox horn carving, musk ox horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

I have worked the back surface of the horn in this phase. Not quite there yet ...

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 10 (carved musk oxen horn)
(horn carving, horn sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' - Display Cases - Phase 5

The case is finished, complete with lighting and mirrored interiors, which will enable the carved bronze Skullptures to be viewed from a variety of angles. Once the flooring around the case is completed, the carved bronze Skullpture Series will be installed and unveiled.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Note that the larger display cubicle does not have mirrored sides or back. The carved antler and bronze moose skull sculpture will be intended for viewing from the front only. This cubicle will be used to display work from the local quilters association until the carved antler and bronze moose skull sculpture is complete and ready for installation.
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The upper portion of the rough area on the right musk oxen horn has been leveled slightly, to allow for better flow of the overall composition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 9 (carved musk oxen horn)
The entire horn has been further carved and refined with attention paid to the composition of the right musk oxen horn just above the rough area. It needs to work from multiple angles and I am still trying to determine the best combination and form of the shapes, particularly the circular ones.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 9 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 8 (carved musk oxen horn)
The composition of the upper portion of the horn needed some adjustment. The before shot (below) shows the portions to be removed, the after shot (above) shows those portions removed and further areas for consideration.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 8 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
In this phase, I have concentrated on a preliminary shaping of the front, broad section of the right horn. The shapes are beginning to take on a life of their own! You may notice that the rough portions, above and below the carved portion, have been smoothed over and refined. The top edge has also been removed to simplify the overall line of the right horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
Below note that more shaping has taken place along the length of the horn, the red areas indicate places where the lower background is to be further refined.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 4

The third row is roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
The milk crates are being used to determine the size of the base that will be created to accommodate the bronze moose skull and carved antler sculpture. It was necessary to determine the dimensions of the sculpture as well at his point. (See the related blog entry which shows the antlers chosen for this sculpture.)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 3

The second row is roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 2

The first row and the large cubicle at the end, which will face away at 90 degrees, are roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

On the forward facing side of the right horn (below), I have begun to round over some of the shapes. There is still plenty of messiness and I'll need to make some more decisions about which elements to keep and which to remove.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 6 (carved musk oxen horn)
You can see below that the rear portion of the horn has been cleaned up and the lower level more clearly defined. I have yet to do any shaping and there are still some tricky passages that have yet to be resolved, especially the knotty bit, midway up on the right.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 6 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Further fine tuning of the depth of the background and the positions of some of the shapes, relative to each other, has taken place. It is important to keep the lowest plane even throughout the carving to create the impression that the carved elements are actually on top of the horn itself.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)
Note that the marked areas are the next to be adjusted or carved away in the next phase.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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

In this phase, the design elements were carved to establish their position, relative to each other and to the background. Most shapes have been refined. A few of the shapes have been removed to allow for the surrounding shapes to 'breathe'. This serves to enhance the feeling of depth in the work. It is sometimes difficult to determine the optimum shape density in the design phase, so edits occur during the carving phases, when it possible to see the 3-D effect more clearly.

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

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

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

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 1

The display case begins to take shape. The floor covering around the case has been removed.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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

I have begun to deepen the background on the right horn to match the depth on the left horn. This will enable the pattern to stand out in high relief, once it is carved.

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

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 3 (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 5) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

In this phase, I have finished refining the left horn. There may seem to be little change from Phase 4, but the difference between the phases represents about 40 carving hours, primarily concentrated on the fine detail work, including the cleaning up of angles, lines and the smoothing of surfaces.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

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

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