'Short Eared Parliament' (Acrylic Stand - Design) by Shane Wilson

Tom McCaw, Industrial Plastics and Paints in Nanaimo, British Columbia, is designing a clear acrylic stand for ‘Short Eared Parliament’. There are four different design possibilities, though my preference is the one featured above.

Acrylic stand proposal-detail for 'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (acrylic stand proposal - detail) by Shane Wilson

Much will depend on the actual physics of the completed sculpture. The stand is designed to support the weight of the sculpture on the two antler shafts. Since the upward distribution of weight along the antlers will cause the sculpture to tip forward, a small central stop will be added to steady the skull just behind the tipping point in order to present the carved surface of the sculpture at an optimum viewing angle.


Acrylic Stand proposal for 'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (acrylic stand proposal - design variations) by Shane Wilson

When the sculpture is completed the precise tipping point will be calculated and the best support profile chosen.



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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Time to give some thought to the support for the sculpture and the means by which it will be attached to the plinth. It is difficult to make this determination prior to the completion of the bulk of the carving, since the balance points will change as material is removed.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8a) by Shane Wilson
It turns out that this antler balances quite well with a little pressure on the outlying tine, seen here held with the black Veritas bench clamp. It should be possible to add a fastening element at this point to join antler to plinth.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8c) by Shane Wilson
It may also be prudent to add a supporting element to the back of the sculpture, where I have placed the brass post in the third image. This will take some of the weight of the sculpture and make the installation a little more secure.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8b) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Bases) by Shane Wilson

Here are some of the images from the creation of the bases for the Five Wolves.

I chose three different woods, walnut, padouk and oak for their natural colour matches with the undertones of the individual moose antlers used in the carving of these sculptures.

Three of the bases will be wall mounted and two will be stand-alone.

Over the years, I have tried different methods for attaching the antler to the base, and have found the least destructive to the antler over the long term, to be rare earth magnets. The second least destructive method is to glue the antler to the base without screws using a polyurethane (Gorilla Glue) or white glue (Weldbond). Often I will use a combination of the two methods.


Wolf 2, padouk base, showing magnet

Wolf 2 (above) is mounted on a free form padouk base, using a 1.25" rare earth magnet, counter sunk into the base. When using magnets, the best adhesion is gained when the magnet is backed with a metal jacket (Lee Valley sells the complete set) and is set against a similarly sized washer attached to the mated piece. In this case, the washer is attached to the bottom of the antler with a short, wide threaded screw in a pre-drilled hole and secured with Gorilla Glue.

This same method was used for Wolf 5 (seen in next two images), and on Wolf 1 (below). Note with Wolf 1, I used three 5/8" magnet/washer sets.

Wolves 1 and 5 shown with washers glued in place.

Wolf 5, mahogany base, showing magnet.

When the antler is too thin to take a screw, the washer can be adhered with the Gorilla Glue and then clamped until set (See Wolf 3, below). When using Gorilla Glue, remember to apply it sparingly to the antler, then moisten the washer before bringing the two together.

Wolf 3, washer on back and base with rare earth magnet.

In the case of Wolf 4 (below), I felt the carving was too delicate to take the force needed to separate the rare earth magnet from the washer, and so opted to glue it directly to the base.

I used the Gorilla Glue along the back of the wolf in order to fill in some of the small gaps between the irregular surface of the antler and the custom support. On the second contact point, which was sanded flush along the lower edge of the shield-like element, I used Weldbond, then clamped the antler to the wood until dry.


Wolf 4, shown clamped and glued to mahogany base.

Going backwards in time, you can see the five bases and Wolf 2 (below) after the planing, cutting and routering were complete.

Wolf 2 shown with all five bases.

The shop after the bases were completed (below). Note the Delta planer (left) the DeWalt router and table (against the back left corner wall), the Steel City bandsaw, Mastercraft drill press and, in partial view, the General edge sander - reliable tools all!

Shane Wilson's wood shop and tools.


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'Dall on the Rocks' (Finished) by Shane Wilson

LINKS: Dall on the Rocks - Complete Work in Progress Video , Gallery Images

Here is the finished sculpture, 'Dall on the Rocks, 2011' on its walnut base.




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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I frequently spot all the little errors when the work has a little time to breathe.


This is the result after a few days of refining, re-sanding and re-polishing. It is time to move on to the base making and final photography stages ...


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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The sculpture has been cleaned up, using small dental burrs to remove small bits of material to improve the flow of lines and shapes.


Following this, the whole sculpture was sanded with a fine burr mounted sandpaper cone, then polished with Tripoli on a cloth wheel.


The sculpture was removed from the mandrel/clamp (which you can see in the last image) and then placed on the walnut base.


The outline of the base was traced onto the wood, following the contours of the sculpture's footprint.


Next the base will be cut, sanded and a router with a cove burr will be used to finish the top edge.


Then it's off to the photographer for the portfolio shot. Almost there ...!



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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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'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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'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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'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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'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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'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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'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' (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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