'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56) by Shane Wilson

I made the final short eared owl into an iconic owl bust - like a grand Roman emperor rendered in marble. He ties the principal content of two antlers together without distracting from them.

The carving portion is finished. Sanding and a few touch ups remain, then a protective coat and it's off to the stand maker and photographer.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56c - owl bust on moose skull complete) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56b - refining owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56c - roughing out owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56d - begin roughing out owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56e - design of owl bust, in progress) by Shane Wilson
‘Short Eared Parliament' (carved moose antler sculpture) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

The final part of the design will be an owl, containing both curvy and angular elements, to be carved on the moose skull.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13a - by Shane Wilson

This owl element will primarily consist of the head and face, with abstracted elements radiating outward.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13c - by Shane Wilson

I will wait on the design of the radiating elements until the carving has progressed, in order to use these elements to tie the entire composition together.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13b - by Shane Wilson

Okay, time now to let the design sit for a bit before making the first cuts, to allow the design to settle in my mind and, possibly, to add some further refinement ...



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The short eared owls on the left side are complete. Note that, as on the right side, the feather structure will be preserved in the carving, the curvy patterns will occur within the feathers themselves.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12a - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12c - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12d - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12e - by Shane Wilson



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The owls and other creatures on the right side are complete. Note that the feather structure will be preserved in the carving, the angular patterns will occur within the feathers themselves.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11a - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11c - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11d - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11e - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to transfer the background design to the antlers themselves. I have outlined where the owls will be located.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10a - by Shane Wilson

The right antler, containing the flying owls, will have a curvy background theme, while the owls themselves will contain angular elements.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10b - by Shane Wilson

In this close up shot of the lower portion of the right antler you can see the pattern of the grasses. The voles, garter snake, and owl skull and bones will be situated within and through the grass.

Though it is not evident in the pictures, this portion of the antler tilts down and away from the viewer, hence the choice of smaller elements (voles, snake, skull, bones) and the more abstract grass pattern, to allow the design to 'read' properly in context with the rest of the sculpture.

Had I chosen to include a larger design element here, another owl for example, it would have appeared flattened or pancaked when viewed in context with the rest of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10c - by Shane Wilson

The left antler, containing the roosting, perching and nesting owls will have an angular background theme, while the owls themselves will contain rounded, curvy elements.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10d - by Shane Wilson

I'll turn next to each of the owls to create individualized designs within the living forms.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Further refinements of the design:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 8 - by Shane Wilson

The short eared owl, looking down and away on the left, has been removed and the other standing owls have been enlarged.

The trunks of the large oak tree from the estuary have been added in place of a crudely drawn, place-saver tree, from earlier renditions.

The short eared owl head on the centre skull has been changed and is a little more dramatic.

A garter snake has been added to the 'prey' section on the lower right and the owl skull has been moved up to the entrance of the vole den, with the removal of the third vole.

The horizon lines on both sides have been altered off level, to cant in to the centre of the sculpture.

And finally, the bow on the inside of the right antler has been removed, so that both antlers exhibit a consistent line, up and away from the centre of the sculpture.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

This is the design in its basic, final form. Changes have been made to both antlers:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9a - by Shane Wilson

The oak trees on the left have been reduced in diameter, with some branches removed and some added. The effect will be to reflect or mirror the wing arrangements of the smaller flying owls on the right antler.

The standing owls have been reduced in size, slightly and moved away from the border to enhance the negative space throughout upper portion of the left antler.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9b - by Shane Wilson

On the right side, the lowest flying owl has been replaced again, this time by one of the original owls considered in Phase 6. This owl is more interesting and contributes to a more dynamic composition.

The primary flying owl has been separated from the upper owl, both to enhance the feeling of negative space around the owls and to remove the possibility for cracking between the owls as the antler shift and warps during the carving process.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9c - by Shane Wilson

The garter snake images has been changed and may well be changed again when the embellishing detail is worked into the composition.

Which is my next step. The owls and other features will be printed, cut out and taped into place on the antlers. There will be some small adjustments during this process before they are drawn onto the antler permanently.

Then it will be time to play with the curvy, angular pattern throughout the entire composition.

Thanks to Keith, Miranda and Jerry for their eyes and ideas, which were a great help during the compositional design of 'Short Eared Parliament'.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

At this stage in the design, I have changed the dynamics of the right antler.

When viewed in a mirror (or by flipping horizontally in Photoshop) it became apparent that the flow of the composition was dumping energy from the top right to the bottom left. By changing the flying short eared owls, this dynamic has been minimized. I may still remove the standing owl on the left side, which is looking off and down to the left.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 7 - by Shane Wilson

The composition will be contained by an antler border, similar to other of my figural sculptures (Yukon Seasons, Rest and Sing, Tribute to Michio) and have removed antler from the background to demonstrate this.

The skulls have been moved: the short eared owl skull will reside with the voles and the vole skull with the baby owl. In their place, I have added a short eared owl face, which will become the centre of a pattern of energy lines which will radiate throughout the sculpture.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

This image represents a Photoshop compilation well into the design process. I have decided to treat the overall composition in quadrants:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 6 - by Shane Wilson

The upper left antler will feature standing and roosting short eared owls, including a baby owl. The figures need to reside close to the inner side of the left antler to maintain an illusion of three dimensionality, since the antler curves sharply towards the viewer as it moves out into the tines. Any large design element would read as flat if located too close to the tines.

The lower left antler, which sweep towards the viewer, will host a nest, replete with eggs, which the short eared owls create on the ground. This quadrant is completed with a protective parent owl.

The upper right antler will feature short eared owls in flight over the estuary in search of food. The upper right antler does not curve as dramatically toward the viewer as does the left antler, allowing more use of the palm for three dimensional relief imagery.

The lower antler projects down and away from the viewer, with only the leading edge and a bit of the back edge of the paddle visible. Design elements that are flattish, like voles, the short eared owls main prey, work quite well here. The underlying pattern in this area will be the grassy vortex that forms the voles' den. I'll probably add a leaf or two as well.

I have added two skulls to the moose skull, a short eared owl skull and a vole skull. I'm not sure I like them here, but they will be included in the sculpture somewhere.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

This phase represents several hours of outlining and trimming multiple short eared owl images in Photoshop. Each owl, the moose antler, skull set and the grey background all rest on separate layers, enabling me to move each independently, expanding, flipping cutting and adjusting in order to create a pleasing composition.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 5 - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

This shot comes after printing out several short eared owls in varying sizes to try them out on the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 4a - by Shane Wilson
Not satisfied with the flexibility of this process at this stage, I have learned a little more about the structure of the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 4b - by Shane Wilson
I will move now to Photoshop and try combining several owl images in layers within the program.


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to play with some ideas for the composition of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3a - by Shane Wilson
There is a definite structural pattern within the antlers and their orientation in space to each other. As I described to the commissioner of this work, the pattern "radiates out from the top of the skull, following the inner edge of the antlers. The design elements need to work as if they were located on a large target or dart board that has been split in half, moved apart to different distances from the centre, with the outer edges curled in to the viewer in varying amounts."

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3b - by Shane Wilson
Time now to shift to the antlers themselves to try on some of these ideas. I'll print out these birds in varying sizes and try them out on the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3c - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the antlers have been sanded to provide a smooth, clean surface to receive the design.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2a - by Shane Wilson
Due to the unique structure of this particular antler set, I have found that the best presentation of the carving surface comes when the antler and skull set is hung from above, allowing the lower palm portions to drop away from level, revealing more of their surface to the viewer.

Also, there is something slightly poetic about mounting a sculpture about owls in the air, as it were, suspended from the ceiling, floating above the ground.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2c - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Using an Optoma PK301 micro projector, I projected an image of the moose antler and skull set to be used for this sculpture onto paper affixed to a drafting table, to trace the outline for design purposes.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - moose rack image projected

Optoma PK301 micro projector
(Optoma PK301 micro projector)

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - outline moose rack on drafting table
Note the additional tracing of the skull, to enable the creation and trial of separate designs which can be overlaid on the base drawing.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - outline moose rack
The outline is smaller than the actual antler and skull set, but sufficiently sized for design purposes.


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'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment 1

I visited the Nanaimo River Estuary Conservation Area, the known habitat of the Short Eared Owl on Vancouver Island, to take the following reference photos for use in planning the design of the sculpture.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic #1

The owls return to the area in late October or early November when I'll get some shots of the birds in situ.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic - RIGHT

In the meantime, I'll begin the planning of the sculpture with reference shots of the Short Eared Owl found in books and on the internet.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic - LEFT
More Text and Images ...

'Short Eared Parliament' (Begin 1) by Shane Wilson

This is a fresh commission for a carved moose antler and skull sculpture with a theme to be based around the Short Eared Owl. Since a grouping of owls is called a 'parliament', I have named this sculpture, 'Short Eared Parliament'.

(There is also a more pedestrian meaning for parliament, which describes the group of sage individuals our nation throws together to conduct our collective business here in Canada and in other countries structured during the British Empire.)

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1a) by Shane Wilson
I am fortunate to live near a known habitat for the Short Eared Owl on Vancouver Island. They overwinter on the Nanaimo River Estuary, arriving in late October or early November. I'll visit the Estuary Ecological Reserve Area next to take reference photographs for the background and detail of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1b) by Shane Wilson
These are very large antlers to carve with an enormous surface area. I am estimating that the design of carving of this antler skull set will take at least two years.

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1c) by Shane Wilson
This moose antler skull set came to me from Yukoner John Maissan.

John Maissan with moose antler skull set to become 'Short Eared Parliament'
John Maissan with the moose antler rack and skull which will become 'Short Eared Parliament'

He hunted this animal for subsistence in 2007 and kindly packed the skull and antlers out of the bush for me. This was no mean feat as the rack measures 5 feet across and weighed over 100 lbs!


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

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

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

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

LINKS: Work in Progress Video

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'Skullpture Series - 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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'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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'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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'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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'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' - 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 - 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' (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 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' (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 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' (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 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 - Black Bear 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze 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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'Skullpture Series - Seal 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

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

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'Skullpture Series - Small Wolverine 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze 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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'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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'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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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Plans

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

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

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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

This is a shot of several other of the small molds in various stages of creation. The second half of the small wolverine mold has been completed.

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

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

Once the silicone has set, remove the outer wall of the mold. Leaving the skull embedded in the silicone, remove the plastercine and free the skull from the plywood base. Flip it over and redo the wall, sealing all edges and gaps with plastercine. Spray the entire surface with a release agent and pour the lower portion of the mold.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

These pictures give you a sense of what the top half of the mold looks like. Note that the pencil indentations are now little knobs, which will mesh nicely with the poured lower half. Note also how much excess silicone is used in this process.

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

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

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The silicone has been poured. There are a variety of silicone products available, this is a Smooth On product. Follow directions carefully for the mixing of the silicone components; each product comes with its own specific directions.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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

To create a silicone mold from a skull there are a few options, two of which I used in the creation of the molds for the Skullpture Series. For smaller items the molds created were of solid silicone. The larger grizzly skull mold was created inside a fibre glass shell, to reduce the amount of silicone used, saving both cost and weight.

All molds begin by securing the skull to a plywood base. Then it is important to decide on a mid point on the skull, along which the mold will divide. There should be no serious overhangs or undercuts, which would hang up the mold and prevent it from being separated.


Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

In these images, the small wolverine skull has been attaced to the plywood base and a centre line has been drawn on the skull in pencil crayon.

I have fashioned a wall around the skull with a milk carton and filled the carton with plastercine, up to the predetermined midway point on the skull.

Using the other end of the pencil crayon, guide holes have been made in the plastercine. The entire surface has been sprayed with a release agent, prior to pouring in the silicone, which will create the top half of the mold.


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

One further note: the mold is being fashioned from silicone, because it can be reused. If I were interested in creating a 'one off', other materials would have been cheaper and more suitable, like plaster. The process of creating the mold remains the same.

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'Skullpture Series - Human 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Human 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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

Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)

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

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'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)

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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' (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)

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

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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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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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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

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

In order to represent the four seasons of Yukon, I decided to use animals engaged in typical seasonal activities. This drawing will be done on the left antler, as you face the carving. The winter scene on the top, changes to spring through the representation of ice breaking up, morphing into birds migrating back to the Yukon for their annual ritual of nesting and rearing young. The birds will 'fly' off the antler and down towards the nose of the skull. This will lead into the fall pattern of salmon spawning up from the nose on the other side and into the antler on the right.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

Well over 150 hours has been spent on this phase. Once the drawings were transferred to the antler, it was necessary to create the remainder of the design in such a way that the animals received maximum exposure for relief work and still looked reasonable from all angles.

Part of the challenge with this piece has been to create a design that is pleasing from the front, as the work will most likely be viewed initially from this angle. If you note from the initial pic of the whole, the antlers are tilted in towards the centre. This means that it was necessary to incorporate the borders of each antler into the overall design, so that the eye is drawn into the composition and the viewer moves unconsciously into a position to see each antler from its most advantageous angle. Otherwise, the relief work, which is intended primarily to be viewed from the perpendicular, will seem flat, distorted and poorly executed.


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

On the left side border, I have chosen to represent the predominant atmospheric conditions during winter in the Yukon, snow and ice fog. These create the impression of a frame around the central composition, enticing the viewer to move into a better position to see the relief work from the proper angle. These two design elements, snow and ice fog, are represented by geometric shapes, hexagons and triangles, and will be carved in shallow relief and of different sizes to represent depth of field, as if the viewer was in the midst of a snow fall or peering through ice fog on a -40 degree day.

The trees at the top of the antler are either stripped of leaves (deciduous) or burdened with snow (coniferous). They are meant to appear at various distances from the viewer - and the ground, composed of negative space, is meant to be covered with snow. In the winter, there is normally less snow beneath the trees, so I have chosen to ground each tree by creating the image of an ovoid depression (in nature, a negative space) as a positive space, relief element. (How true, in art, that often to achieve a realistic effect, "you must 'lie' in order to tell the 'truth'"!)

The moose and the wolf are surrounded by the continuation of negative space, the continued representation of snow on the ground. The back right leg of the moose, seems to disappear behind the wolf because it is in the deep snow. In fact, wolves are able to hunt moose in the winter when the moose are slowed breaking through the crust into deep snow. The wolves, with their large paws and lighter bodies, remain above the crust, retaining superior maneuverability. The lower border of the winter scene is a positive representation of snow on the ground. Note, the paw of the wolf barely sinking into the skiff of powdered snow above the crust.

The segue into spring occurs below this line, with the bank of a river. The rotting blocks of ice that normally line the banks of a river in the spring are represented by the angular edge. The negative space below this represents open water, which always seems to appear along the banks of both rivers and lakes. The larger geometric shapes below the open water, represent the large blocks of ice that race downstream, colliding with each other in their chaotic race for the sea, and which often form the ice jams which cause flooding in riverside communities throughout Yukon and Alaska.

As a final element of spring, I had intended to morph the ice flows into migratory birds, however, the design just didn't work when applied to the antler. Instead, I have created an abstract Sandhill Crane within the ice flow itself. The wings and tail project over the border of the antler, while the neck and head extend along the shaft of the antler that attaches to the skull. The Sandhill Cranes are my favorite migratory bird, as they pass over my home in Faro each spring (and fall) by the tens of thousands.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

This phase saw the removal of the antler forming the negative spaces. In addition to a counterweight, an assistant helped steady the work, while I removed the material using a scroll saw. As in other carvings, the scroll saw blade used was multidirectional. It is important to ensure that you have many blades, since they break rather frequently. With the counterweight system bearing most of the weight, and with an assistant helping to steady the work, I went through far fewer blades than usual. But they do wear out and break after a few cuts.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

Similar to the fourth phase for the right side, 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.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

A great deal of work has gone into this phase of the left antler. The moose, river ice and snowflakes have all been roughed in. The refining of the moose and the detailing of the snowflakes will be attended to in a later phase.

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

I have decided to carve the base of the antler, where it joins the skull, in a way which reflects the nature of ice, thus the overlapping geometric shapes. The base of the other side will be carved almost as is, to represent flowing water in a splashing effect, as over rocks in a stream.

The background of each antler will be carved to contrast with the major shapes represented on the antler. Thus the background carving on the tines of the left side will be rounded to contrast with the geometric emphasis of the ice and snow. Consequently, the right side tines will be carved more sharply to contrast with the smooth flowing lines of the water, land and sun.

Please do not despair about the blockiness or 'rivet-like' quality of the snowflakes. Each will be carved with a unique design or pattern, reflective of the absolutely unique character of every real-world snowflake!


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

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

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

The ice fog, represented by raised, random triangle shapes, has been carved into the right side of the border of the left antler and the wolf has been roughed in, in a rudimentary fashion.

I am not sure whether to carve a bit of the ice fog below the wolf, or leave that space blank.


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

Ice fog is the same as normal fog, except composed of tiny ice crystals instead of water droplets. It generally forms around bodies of open water or settlements at temperatures of 40 degrees (C or F) or colder with no air movement.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

In this phase I have carved the snowflakes and redesigned and roughed out the spring ice and sandhill crane.

Since every snowflake in nature is unique, I decided to carve each snowflake with a unique design. Some resemble real snowflakes and others pick up patterns from the rest of the carving. As such, this allows for the environmental element of snow to serve as itself and as a unique border, blending harmoniously with the whole. Since there is a large sun on the right antler, representing the sun's omnipotence during the summer, there is a correspondingly smaller and less prominent sun/snowflake on this antler (8th from top right). The snowflakes above the sun take on the shapes of winter's night, symbolically representing stars, constellations, the moon, northern lights and the north star (first on right, above the ice fog pattern).

Needless to say, the carving of the snowflakes was delicate and painstaking, involving the NSK micromotor tool and small dental bits.


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

Moving down along the sculpture, you come to the section representing spring, with large blocks of ice breaking up. Though it may have been difficult to see, there was an abstract sandhill crane built into the arrangement of the ice blocks. When I came to refine the area, I noticed that the crane looked a bit like it had been crushed under the ice, splayed out like a bug on a windshield.

So it has been redesigned. The crane (a little more realistically portrayed) now appears to be in flight, emerging through the ice, as spring and new life emerge from the deep-freeze of winter. It has been roughed out in this phase; I'll come back to it again after refining the winter figures in the next phase.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

In this phase, the trees have been refined, the moose and wolf have been mapped out for refinement and the antlers on the moose have been begun.

I have tried to capture some of the unique looks of the various varieties of trees in winter. The aspens are slender and barren of foliage. The pines are blanketed with snow in that Christmassy way, and the gnarly pine supports stooks of snow on its hardy satellites of growth.


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

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

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

The moose has been refined in this stage with a relief design meant to portray something of the power of the animal in its winter coat. You can see the top of the wolf marked with the pattern to be carved in the next phase.

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

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

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

The wolf has been completed in this phase.

It was a challenge creating the impression that the head is angled toward the moose. I wonder if the medium lends itself better to relief efforts that are parallel with the surface of the antler. Though it is technically possible to carve anything that can be drawn, the surface and thickness of the antler creates its own impression of the form which militates against images which are angled into or away from the viewer across the antler surface. A case in point is the carving I did for FNAWS, 'Faro Fannin.' In that carving the sheep's head is turned on an angle toward the viewer. Though the carving is correctly executed, the viewer does not necessarily pick up on the details of the carving, such as the 3/4 view of the nose, which would indicate the head is angled toward the viewer. Instead, the viewer sees the head as a profile and assumes the sheep is looking away from the viewer at a right angle and is then puzzled why the back horn is so much further ahead than the front horn.

It is hard to overcome the limitations of the medium!

If the image were to be carved on a solid background it might be a little easier to introduce the subtler angles, but I am not willing to sacrifice the illusion of fully rounded figures. Each of the figures in this piece are set on an angle, and they seem to work fine here, but in future I may limit the figures to profiles.


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

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

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 11

The Sandhill Crane has morphed again into a more realistic bird. Co-incidently, while I was working on this part of the sculpture the Sandhill Cranes migrated through, passing over my studio in flocks of hundreds and thousands. I was able to observe their feather structure and flight pattern with an eye to duplicating the same in antler. It was indeed fortuitous that they passed by when they did, because the pictures I was using for reference were simply not adequate! There is a little more work yet to do on the receding wing, which will be attended to later, when I change the position of the work on the carving bench.

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

I have found that my back has been giving me a little trouble lately, due to inadequate support from my old chair and the need to work in a reaching or stretched position. I broke down and purchased a new office chair, with a very comfortable seat, firm back support, adjustable arm rests and the ability to raise and lower the chair on a gas cylinder. The new chair has made a real difference, providing great support while allowing my hands and arms to work, on each section of the antler at a consistent height and with consistent support.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

The effect that I was attempting to create with the crane and the ice was one of melding them into one. They are inseparable in nature, the cranes migrate north when the ice goes out and south when the ice returns.

Originally, the crane was to be represented abstractly in the shapes of the ice. No one 'got it', so I added a bit of definition to the crane ice blocks. Still no one really seemed to 'see' the crane. In the previous phase, I defined the crane and kept it merged with the ice. But the more I considered this section over the past year, the more it looked to me like the crane was trapped in or crushed by the ice. So I removed the ice blocks from over the crane, created a back, defined the rear wing vanishing over the edge of the sculpture, and tied all the body parts together, since they were on different planes of the carving.

I am pleased with the effect, as it gives the appearance now of the crane flying over the ice.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

The crane is finished along with the water pattern, flowing beneath the ice. The ice has been cleaned up and finalized.

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

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

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

In this final phase, the ice fog has been cleaned up and the tips have been reduced to match the right side.

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

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'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)

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

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

In the initial design, the migratory birds '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.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

This section of the sculpture has changed the most from the original plan. This is due in large part to the fact that the migratory bird motif entering from one side and the salmon swimming up on the other side, was not going to work. The scale was wrong and the strength of the base section of the antlers needed to be preserved, due to the fact that the finished sculpture will be mounted by those sections.

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

What I have done instead is to carry the themes of ice floes from the left, and water from the right, down onto and across the skull. A raven, representing all four seasons, is situated, flying along the top of the skull, between the antlers. The ice fog and snow motifs are set down the centre of the skull, in the 'air' along the path of the raven. On the right side of the skull, two curly patterns further represent spring as emerging plant life (fern: fiddle-heads).
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

I have begun to rough out the shapes on the skull. You can see the raven, as well as the snowflakes, water and ice patterns beginning to emerge. I am a little uncertain about the trail behind the raven. It is meant to be an indication of the wake behind the bird as it flies through the ice fog, but it looks a little more like an extension of the tail at this point. I'll pursue the design a little further before deciding on whether or not to remove it.

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

What you can't see in this shot are the wonderful holes emerging in the design in the thin sections along the side of the skull. I am going to play with these a little more and show you the results next time I update this section of the sculpture.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

I have focused on the raven this time. In order to get the wing and tail feather structure right it was necessary to observe ravens soaring in the wild.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

After considerable thought and examination of the structure of the skull, I decided to fashion the bridge of the nose into a screen, penetrating the ice-fog shapes through the bone, instead of displaying them in relief. I think the effect is quite striking, as it allows the negative space within the skull to emerge through the openings, giving the whole a feeling of lightness and depth.

In this phase, I have also cleaned up the back of the two antlers, which had remained rough until now, and also further cleaned up the interior of the skull, refining some of the inner lines and lines along the nose.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

The skull is almost complete, except for the snow flakes, final clean-up and sanding. On the right side the pattern has become a dall sheep horn in thin relief. The left side remains unchanged, a combination of ice breaking up and water flowing over from the other side. The raven has been completely roughed out and needs only to be sharpened and sanded. The contrail flowing out from behind the raven proved distracting, ruining the visual flow between the antlers, and so has been removed.

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

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

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

In this phase I completed the snowflakes on the face of the skull (those on the rear remain to be done.) Note the patterns on the left snowflakes pick up design elements from the right of the sculpture and the left pick up elements of the right. This serves to balance the sculpture and provide unity.

The raven has been sharpened up considerably, as has the ice fog grill.


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

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

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

I have decided to break up the lower part of the nose design and introduce an element of space that should add visual interest. I am not sure what the final form of this design will be, so I'll live with the current modifications for a while and see what comes to me.

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

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

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

In this phase, I have designed and refined the stand for the carving. It has been created in such a way as to minimize its presence, obscuring the sculpture as little as possible. The stand is made from a large oak plank: cut, planed and routered. The uprights are drilled from below, then secured by lag bolts and glue.

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

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

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

Prior to finishing with a dark oak stain/varnish, the uprights were tailored to fit the carving and the whole was sanded. The stain was applied in three coats, with a light, steel wool sanding before the second and third coats.

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

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

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

In this phase the centre portion of the skull has been cleaned up and the pattern matched on both sides of the bridge of the nose.

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

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

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

The snowflake behind the raven on the right side has been completed with a snowflake pattern. It was quite difficult to manoeuver the carving tools to accomplish this portion of the carving, due to the close proximity of the right antler base.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

The final two snowflakes are complete. The first one is a border with a hole penetrating the skull to allowing more light to pass through, lightening the overall appearance of the skulls solidity. The second snowflake contains the initials of the commissioner of this work - AB.

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

Note what appears to be a crack in the outer tail feather of the raven. It is part of the natural fissuring of the skull.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

In this view, you can see the entire skull with the antler bases visible and cleaned up.

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

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'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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Duality' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, begin (carved moose skull)

This commission makes use of a moose skull which was found in the bush a few years ago. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see lichens and mosses. This is a sure sign that the skull is very old, since things grow very slowly up in northern Canada.

The design of this piece will further an idea I've been working on for some time. I'm going to simplify the shapes of the skull and then carve a pattern of overlapping planes across the entire surface area. I hope to inlay gold flakes in some of the cracks, for a little extra sparkle.

The finished piece will be mounted on a wooden stand.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose skull)

The skull is a perfect piece of art in its natural state so I will need to be careful what I design in order to complement its natural grace and beauty.

So far, I've used a large Foredom grinder with a round bit on a 1/4" shaft and a smaller cone bit with the SMC Moto Tool, for those hard to reach places. The focus has been to clean up the skull and simplify the shapes. I have removed much extraneous material. I'll probably spend another day or so refining the basic shape of the skull, before proceeding to lay out the detailed pattern of overlapping planes.

One thing I've discovered about the teeth, is that they are quite fragile and tend to flake quite easily. I will reinforce them with glue.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose skull)

I have learned a great deal about the architecture of the skull. It is wondrous indeed! Judicious in its use of resources, just enough material is used to accomplish the various purposes the skull serves. The skull is also extraordinarily beautiful. As mentioned last phase, the internal shapes and structures are both graceful and sufficient on their own as art.

For the last while, I have been engaged in subtraction. Some of the decisions about what to remove were obvious, others not. I concentrated on removing thin and rotten areas first, then turned my hand to removing material that would enable the underlying structures to show. Finally, I spent several days restoring, cleaning and stabilizing the teeth.

Throughout the grinding process, I used both the larger Foredom tool and the pencil thin Dremel. Given the many tight spaces within the skull, the Dremel was the most popular choice. I used double-fluted ball bits, all 1/4" shafts, as they seemed to bounce around the least while grinding in confined spaces. They are also the safest bit for grinding in sensitive areas, since they will not gouge accidentally.

The next stage will involve laying down the design and developing its depth throughout the piece.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose skull)

I have completed the pattern on both sides of the skull. As evidenced from the picture the pattern will be different on each side. The two sides will be tied together by a common thread, evident on the bridge of the nose and the back of the skull. Usually, when laying out the design of a carving, it is necessary to sketch a small area and then lay in an initial carved line - because the pencil marks blur given all the handling. In order to lay in the full design this time, I sprayed the pencil lines with an acrylic spray. The spray protects the lines from handling, but allows the lines to be erased if I decide to change their position.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose skull)

I've completed the left side of the skull.

The surface of the skull varies considerably for carving purposes, some areas are thick and luscious, whereas others are thin and delicate. The mid section of the nose is quite thin and may need to be carved away. I'll leave it as is for now and see how the rest turns out.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)

All of the work these past weeks has been with the SMC Moto Tool and the Dremel. With the former tool I work out the lines and depths, then with the later I even out the planes. If you were to compare this carving process to drawing: the former tool creates the outline and the later shades the image.

There are tremendous contrasts in thickness which I have attempted to use to full advantage. On the top of the head, where the antlers attach, I have created an extruded relief in 3D. Over the thinest sections along the cheek bone, I have used shallow relief, completely removing some of the deeper sections, so that holes form part of the pattern. (Some of the holes occur naturally and I am still debating whether or not to leave them as they are or incorporate them into the design by giving them an angular shape.)

All that remains is some minor finishing work on this side, sand and polish the whole, and then mount the finished work.


Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson (carved moose skull)

Well, it's finally finished!

The final stages involved sharpening up the lines and divisions between the shapes, for which I used carbide dental bits, provided by the local dentist. I then used a Dremel stone grinder to smooth the surfaces and remove the marks left by the various other bits. Finally, I polished the entire surface with a cloth Dremel polishing wheel. This was the first time I've tried the cloth wheel and found that, while it was effective, it covered me and a five foot radius with threads as it disintegrated. In three hours of use it was reduced to 1/8" radius from its original 3/4". Nevertheless, it seemed to be more effective than the felt polishing/buffing wheels and I'll buy another one for next time.

I also added small highlights of gold, purchased in Dawson City. There were small holes in the skull that seemed to detract from the overall effect, which the gold, held in place by ZAP-A-GAP CA Glue, eliminated.


Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson, on stand

The problem of how to mount and display the work took some time to resolve.

After planing the wood beams, taken from pallets, they were glued together and planed to a final thickness. I sketched out a profile on one side which immitated the skull, reproduced it on the other and cut it out using my band saw. I then sanded and routered the edges.

After some experimentation, I found that a single piece of wood, inserted through the large opening in the rear of the skull, could support the weight of the entire skull. The supporting member was designed to echo the negative space at the back of the upper jaw. The pedestal is designed in such a way that the skull does not need to be permanently attached. The skull fits over the end of the pedestal and its weight binds it fast.

LINKS: In Progress Slide Show
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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