'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

The designs for each carving are drawn directly onto the raw bronze prior to carving. (2004-2005) The bronzes below are in various states of design and carving, all preliminary. Two of the skulls (small wolverine and grizzly) were finished and patinated without being carved. I decided to change this later and carved both skulls.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Using power grinders and carbide burrs, designed for metal work, the designs are carved and the bases are completed using black granite. Following the carving the surface is smoothed with sandpaper, depending on the kind of patination to be applied. (2004-2007)

Below are a selection of images taken during this phase.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Seal 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Wolf 2
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Prior to patination, it is important to clean the surface of the bronze, to remove impurities and any surface oxidation. The most effective way to do this is to sandblast the surface with a fine grit sand. It is important to avoid touching the surface of the bronze with bare hands after this process, as it will pick up oils and create uneven application/oxidization of the patina.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

The next stage is to apply the base coat, which in this case is an application of Birchwood Casey applied cold and then rinsed. An alternative base coat would be liver of sulphur, also applied cold. Following the rinsing, the bronze is heated to set the base coat and then the whole is rubbed back with steel wool.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Finally it is time to apply the patina! There are numerous oxidizing agents available for patination, all lending a unique look and colour to the bronze. I have chosen to use bismuth nitrate (with varying additions of titanium oxide) and silver nitrate for the human skull and some accents on other pieces (eg. wolverine). The patina is also applied by brush, lending a unique, ringed pattern to the finish. The patina is applied to a hot bronze surface, made so with an open flamed torch. Following the application the entire surface is quenched in water and reheated to dry the bronze and set the patina. The pics below show the patination set up and a variety of pieces in various stages of completion. Note the patina seems much whiter than it will appear after the final coat of lacquer is applied.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The patina is fragile and needs to be protected by a couple of coats of lacquer. Since the lacquer lends a plastic look to surface, two coats of Trewax are applied and buffed to dull the surface down and provide additional protection. Voila, the finished bronzes!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

The bronzes will be photographed professionally and I'll post the images as they become available.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Once the bronze is brought up to the right temperature, the crucible, containing the molten bronze, is removed with a large pair of tongs, operated by two people.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

The crucible is placed in the carrying device ...

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

... which allows the handlers to pour the bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Once the metal has cooled sufficiently, it is removed to another work area, preferably outside!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I am using a sledge hammer to loosen the shell from the bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 13 (carved bronze skulls)

The bronze appears!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 13 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

The remainder of the shell is removed using and air point chisel, and hand chisels.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 14 (carved bronze skulls)

The inner surfaces are particularly challenging to free of shell.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 14 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson

The freed bronze, with sprues still attached.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 15 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 16) by Shane Wilson

The sprues have been cut off with a torch and/or hacksaw. Any cracks or holes have been filled with a welder using bronze rods. The irregularities have been 'chased' or ground smooth, using burrs and air tools. Then the whole bronze has been sandblasted to create an even surface prior to carving.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 16 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Wax has been poured into the two halves of the mold to test the quality of the mold.

Skullptures by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

The first wax impression from this mold!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The two halves have been trimmed and assembled. Though the cast version will use a single wax taken from the attached mold, this give some impression of the wax prior to casting.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

This is a pic of the wolverine and seal skulls as they are being sprued up with wax rods. The intention is to create a path for the bronze to enter the sculptures and to allow air and bronze to escape, filling the sculpture completely with bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

After spruing, the entire assembly is dipped in a cement-like slurry, then covered in fine silica sand.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

It is then placed on a wire shelf and allowed to dry throuroughly (2 hours). Air tubes are inserted to allow inner surfaces an equal chance to dry.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The sculpture is dipped thirteen times and covered in courser grades of sand. This pic shows the wolverine/seal assembly in an early stage of dipping, and the grizzly skull after its final dip.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Once dry, the shell is drilled from the end opposite the end that will receive the bronze. It is then turned upsidedown in a kiln and the wax is melted out of the shell, as the shell is cured.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

The cured shell is allowed to cool, then inspected for cracks. The drill hole is patched and the cracks are repaired with a special cement.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The bronze furnace is heated. Note the piece of bronze on the lid, which is 'drying' prior to insertion in the crucible.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)

As the bronze is heating, the ceramic shells are replaced in the kiln and heated/dried prior to the pour. This is necessary to avoid cracking or an explosion, due to the shock of hot bronze contacting a cold shell and or moisture.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)

The final piece of bronze is melted.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

The HOT shells are secured by chains in the sandpit. Note the protective clothing and gear.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)

A close up of the secured, hot, ceramic shells.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Repeat of step 11. Note that there were two high points on this side. Two holes were drilled. When the lower high point filled, it was covered with clay, to allow the rest of the mold to fill.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Gently pry the mold apart after allowing the silicone to set fully.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Separate the silicone from the original.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

I have determined a centre line for the two-piece mold and have begun to build up around the base, in order to create the mold for the top half.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

Note the use of styrofoam and synthetic clay. If you look carefully, you can see the pencil mark used to determine the centre line.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

Take the lower portion of the mold off, turn the sculpture, silicone and fibreglass over and repeat the previous steps to make the second half of the mold and shell.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

Repeat of steps 4-10. Note that once the second fibreglass shell is complete, holes are drilled through both flanges and bolts with wing nuts are inserted. Use a grinder or sawsall to trim the rough fibreglass edge.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

When trimming the molds with the sawsall and grinder, make sure that separation of the molds is achieved. Though the fibreglass will bind on the edges, it should not have bound on the surface treated with the grease.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Clean out the filler clay, repair the flange, spray the entire sculpture and fringe with release, then add a silicone bead around the inner portion of the flange ...

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)

... Drill a hole in the highest point of the fibreglass shell and reattach to the sculpture and flange, using reference points. Pour in silicone mold compound slowly, to allow air to escape.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

When hardened and dry, remove the fibreglass from the sculpture, after drilling reference holes around the flange. Insert screws into the reference holes in the clay.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Add an extra layer of matt and resin around the flange for additional support.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Layer resin and fibreglass. Tear the fibreglass matt and touch to the resin...

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)

... then tamp in with a brush and resin.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

I am painting on a mizture of 4 parts Bondo (with 1" hardener) to one part resin (with one squeeze of hardener, mixed first).

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

Be careful not to get this stuff on the styrofoam, as it dissolved readily!

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

Complete and allowed to harden.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

A release agent is painted on prior to adding the fibreglass. In this case it is axle grease cut with thinner!

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to add another 3/8" layer of clay over the skull to create a space for the latex, once the fibreglass shell is created.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Note, this second layer of clay covers the skull only and does not extend onto the original 'flange' of clay.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Duct Tape or Saran Wrap is placed over the skull to protect it during the next phase.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The clay is built up to the half way point on the skull and smoothed out.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The molds have been tested, then sealed up and filled with hot wax. The wax is allowed to cool for a few minutes, forming a shell against the mold. When the shell is about 1/4" thick the remaining liquid wax is poured back into the melting pot. We used a large crock pot to melt the wax and keep it at a suitable temperature over an extended period.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Not all attempts as pulling a suitable wax from the mold are successful. The beauty of wax is that it can be remelted and used again. Note some of the successful waxes visible along the back of the bench.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series - Grizzly 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Grizzly 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Skullpture Series' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
skulls left to right: grizzly, black bear, wolf, fox, beaver, lynx, large wolverine, martin, seal, small wolverine, human

The Skullpture Series begins with real skulls. Each skull has been prepped for the mold making process. The natural holes have been filled with Chavant clay to prevent the intrusion of silicone into the skull.

It is necessary to create molds from each of the skulls in order to create wax duplicates, which will then be cast in bronze.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
small wolverine skull

Since the technique used to prepare the molds differs depending on the size of the object to be cast, we will follow the mold making process for a small skull, small wolverine (above), and a large skull, grizzly (below).

Skullpture Series, Grizzly by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
grizzly skull
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 1 (carved moose antler and skull)

As noted in the commentary on the other drawing, the migratory birds will 'fly' down towards the nose of the skull on the other side. This will lead into the fall pattern of salmon spawning, up from the nose on this side and into the antler, to be caught by the grizzly.

The major seasons of summer and winter are therefore represented on the main portions of each antler, with the transition seasons of spring and fall forming the transition between the antlers and over the skull.

Work on this sculpture is scheduled to start in April 2001.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 2 (carved moose antler and skull)

On the right side, the design elements have been extended from within the composition out onto the border. In some places, the lines will match exactly, whereas in other places the lines are a little out of sink, as if a long object were viewed, partly submerged in water. I will maintain an edge between the border and the composition, in order to entice the viewer around to the proper perpendicular angle for viewing, as if to get a better look through a window at the scene.

The background elements in the composition will be cut out in an outline pattern, suggesting mountains, a lake, the river up which the salmon swim, and even some of the salmon in the river itself. This approach allows me to include a great deal of information about the two scenes of summer and fall as background, while allowing the bulk of the relief work to be used within the figurative elements. Otherwise, if the mountains and the river were done as objects with mass, thereby consuming more of the depth of the antler for greater relief treatment, the figures would have less depth of material available, appearing flatter against a solid background, and not as interesting.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 3 (carved moose antler and skull)

I decided to leave the cuts that I had planned for the water falling behind the 'fall' bear until the carving proceeded a little further. It may be that the three sections of falling water will look best carved in relief. If not, then it will be appropriate to remove the planned sections at that time. The key with carving is don't take it off until you're sure.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 4 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have roughed out the main planes with both straight and tree shaped burrs of various sizes. I find it works well to define a plane on the side furthest from the viewer with a smaller straight burr, then remove the material toward that line with a tree burr and finish with the straight burr to clean up the line. I find that this process repeats itself throughout the roughing out process, using burrs of various sizes depending on the area being worked.

One visitor to my studio commented that the carving looks to be almost completed. It would certainly be great if that were true, but the majority of time has yet to be spent on the details and finishing. The analogy I often use is that of the building of a structure. Once the shell is up, it appears the building is nearly completed. But that is deceiving, because the inside work always takes most of the time.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 5

In this phase, I have worked the upper portion of the right antler, further refining the planes and shapes. The eye and mouth regions of the two bears have been left to a later phase. My decision to make the border portion blocky and square may not work on the tines, which seem to give the appearance of being cut off. I'll leave them for the moment and see how they look when the whole right side has been worked for the second time.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 5 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)

The bear and fish have been further refined and await the final detailing.

The water is almost finished, with interesting patterns in the lower palm of the antler and around the lower border. I have added a whirlpool design to two of the lower tines and on the shaft of the antler. The area around the butt of the antler has been cleaned up but retains the original shapes to represent splashing water.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

This phase has been one of the trickiest and most time consuming to date. The mother bear in the summer scene has been further defined. The section of antler is extremely thin here and the challenge has been to design the mother so that she looks substantial from the probable vantage point of the viewer. The antler curves toward the viewer, exposing the thinness of the antler along its edge. The best solution has been to carve the body texture of the bear deeply in relief, permitting a rounding of the multiple surfaces, while finishing the nose and mouth area in the round, providing a pleasing illusion of substance which works from every vantage point.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

The brown marks are made by a pencil crayon and serve as reference points for further refinement. I find that pencil crayon is preferable to pencil, as pencil leaves fragments of graphite which persist in the pores of the antler. The pencil crayon's waxy consistency tends to remain on the surface of the carving and comes away easily during subsequent work.

The small holes represent Yukon's ever present summer environment: insects. Yukon's summers belong to the blood suckers, save in the small oases human bug killing technologies have carved out of the wilderness, which are our towns. With such an influence, nay, dominance over the summer landscape, I felt it necessary to include them in the sculpture, along with the creature we typically assign to that role.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have completely redone the 'frame' or antler border. Not happy with the effect of carrying the background lines of mountain and sun onto high relief along the border, as it flattened out the image, I have carved away these effects. Replacing these with a continuation of the sun ray and insect theme, it seems much more pleasing. The mountain and sun appear to recede and the rays carry the wavy pattern of sun and mountain into the lower half of the antler, where the pattern changes to water. The insects now appear to cluster, as they are wont to do. I have refined their shapes, adding larger and smaller holes to give the impression of 3D clusters, with some bugs closer and some further from the viewer.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8

Another element of the design that was troubling me and seemed to flatten the scene, was the connection point of mountain line and mother bear. Since the medium of antler is 3D and can be viewed from multiple points, the mountain and horizon line did not recede as in a 2D drawing or picture, where the use of darker and lighter shades push the background into the distance. I decided to create the effect of distance or separation using another visual illusion, whereby the background around a near object does not seem to exist, blocked by a kind of halo effect around the object. While this adds to the fragility of the carving, I decided to cut the mountain from around the mother bear.

The horizon line will also be removed along the orange line, once the cub has been roughed out. In the meantime it will remain for support. Since it is not possible to put material back, once removed, I used the clone brush in Paint Shop Pro to eliminate these sections in a digital image, to see if the effect worked. It did, to my satisfaction, and I think the initial removal of the mountain connections would bear this out.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

The sun and mother bear have been completely reworked and refined, bringing them to a finished stage. So it's on to the cub and the buck brush in the foreground.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! How much longer 'till the whole is done?
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have included a pic of the entire sculpture so that you can get a sense of the whole.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase the grizzly cub has been completed, save only for a few minor adjustments. The horizon line, which passed behind both bears, has been removed.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

I am now using a Canon S30 digital camera with a 3.2 megapixel image size. My hope is that you will see greater detail with a little more clarity.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase, I have designed the cut patterns for the hair. I am attempting to create a design that will be pleasing to the eye (since it represents a large portion of the sculpture) yet still conveys the impression of a wet bear.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)

It feels so good to be working on this bear. The lines and curves melt underneath my blades in sumptuous abandon, revealing what, I hope, looks like a wet bear with fish. Pure joy.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have purchased an "Ott Light" to aid me in my endeavors, and the difference is truly remarkable. The full spectrum, florescent floor lamp, was developed for Disney to provide natural-artificial light for a flower photoshoot. I don't know how I have managed all these years without it! It is so easy on the eyes, reducing strain and illuminating hard to see areas that I may not have treated adequately in the past.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 12 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have included two 'in progress' images with this update.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 12 (carved moose antler and skull)

The first picture shows the head and neck completed, the front leg in a nearly finished stage, the shoulders, back and chest in the first stages of carving and the rear leg as it is originally sketched out. The second picture shows the carving with the bear finished up to the rear leg. If you scan back and forth between the images, you can spot the differences and refinements, especially along the front leg. The third pic shows the bear in the context of the other figures on the antler.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 12 (carved moose antler and skull)

I think my Elector GX micromotor carving tool has finally given up - so it will need to be sent off for repairs. My guess is that the bearings are shot and need replacing. The handpiece was heating up prior to it ceasing function. This will slow things down for a while, but I'll see what headway can be made with the flexible shaft Foredom in the interim.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

The micro-motor carving tool is still not back, but I thought I'd share the work done with the Foredom. It is a larger instrument with a flexible shaft that can be a little awkward for working the finer details, but things went pretty well. The Foredom has come in very handy a number of times for bulk removal with larger 1/4" burrs. This is the first time I have used it for fine work, using 1/8" and 3/32" burrs. I'll clean up the lines one more time when the Elector returns.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 13 (carved moose antler and skull)

I changed the flow of the waterfall and decided to eliminate the raised border around the rear of the bear. My initial thought for this side was to create a border with continuous design elements from the carving within. I eliminated this from the upper half of the design, and it just didn't make sense on the lower half, with the exception of the water below. My problem with carrying the composition into the border was that it flattened out the design and in some places created visual confusion. Thus, the water on the left flows from the border; the buck brush on the right border has been preserved and the tip on the left has been removed, to create the illusion of the land moving into the distance; the bear's rear goes out of the antler (my hope is that the eye will fill in the gaps) and the water flows around the back feet and down into the pool below.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase the bushes, rear of the lower bear, the salmon in its mouth and the water have all been cleaned up and finalized.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

LINKS: In Progress Slide Show - Right Antler
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antlers and skull)

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, beginning (carved moose antler and skull)

This commission will represent the four seasons of Yukon. The commissioner's request was that the commission be carved on a full moose skull with antlers.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Yukon Seasons' (Finshed) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler and skull)

Yukon Seasons, 2003 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler and skull)

LINKS: Work in Progress Slide Shows: Centre, Left Antler, Right Antler
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share