tage sprague: The trojan horse

dimensions: 17 inches L x 16 inches H x 8.5 inches W
material: silicon bronze

left view
right view

"Trojan horse" is comprised of fourteen castings,  which were then assembled and chased to completion. This completion was determined by that point at which there was no undesirable evidence of the adversities that plagued the piece from its conception.

The passage from armature to bronze monopolized every opportune moment of five years. Three years would be devoted to the creation of a plasticene model. Cumulatively, another two years would be devoted to the creation of a refined wax model of the piece , and to casting the bronze that would ultimately represent the essence of the piece. It is this final bronze that serves as the source of all future castings.

The time period in question may quite arguably be the true crucible from which the piece was born. This is said with little intention of being autobiographical, but instead to validate the many special considerations which were necessary to address the challenges encountered throughout the sculpture's evolution. Ironically, though most of the challenges presented themselves as adversities, once appropriately addressed, they would all come to ultimately enhance the essence of the completed work.

Though the original plasticene model immediately possessed many of those attributes that have been immortalized in bronze, a notable absence of appropriate studio facilities would have an initially unwelcome effect on the progression of the piece. Primarily, severe temperature variations over the period of three years cracked and lessened the pliability of the initial medium. This misfortune, in conjunction with the application of plasticene over an armature unable to bare the burdens of its future, drew the model to a precarious completion, determined more by unworkability and fragility than by aesthetic catharsis.

To achieve aesthetic catharsis, both desirable and undesirable characteristics inherent to the casting of bronze would have to be manipulated. A thirteen part mold-two(2) piece rubber, eleven (11) piece fiberglass mother mold keyed and bolted- was made of the original plasticene. From this mold, a wax reproduction was generated. The wax itself, consisted of a somewhat intuitive blend of traditional, slushable waxes, and various jeweler's waxes with specific characteristics regarding durability, shrinkage, and workability. The model that it now consisted of, would be sculpted into a "new" original, that would also serve as the one existing representation of the completed piece for casting. As aesthetics were pursued, thicknesses of the wax original became undesirably thick and thin in relation to each other. The potential for undesirable distortion of the bronze to be poured would be inevitable.

In some instances this phenomenon would be advantageous as the anticipated distortion would enhance the piece. In other cases the opposite would hold true. To address this, the wax model was cut into fourteen sections; the divisions of which were determined by an assessment of the casting characteristics of each piece. The converse sides of each piece was then modified either additively or subtractively, as appropriate to affect the ultimate, yet only predictable outcome that would be the aesthetic completion of the sculpture.

As gating and venting are comprised of many concerns related to distortion as well, this process was used to further manipulate the final outcome of the piece. To avoid unnecessary technicality, it may be best to summarize the specifics of the process as enacted to both encourage and discourage contraction by gating according to the desired effect.

Each of the fourteen individually gated sections was then subjected to being cast in bronze via the ceramic shell process. Temperature concerns relating to both shell and bronze were intuitive derivations, achieved by assessing each piece to be cast. Bronze temperature would be determined by color only, and poured with a certain reverence for the metal itself. Of primary concern, was the contemplation of the metal's various forms as it passed through history and what encounters were taking place within the crucible. Each casting proved successful both technically and aesthetically. Assembly was guided by the prior success of the castings. There were no issues of poorly fitting seams regardless of the sometimes substantial modifications that had been induced in adjacent sections of the sculpture.

As the now assembled bronze represented the only existing original of the piece, metal finishing was the final opportunity to put in bronze what had not been able to be put in clay or wax. A mirrored complexion would serve to finish the piece, perhaps giving the viewer a chance to see himself through the perception of that energy which draws him to the piece from the beginning. A majority of work was done with rudimentary hand tools, to allow time to pay homage not only to the bronze that stood sentinel to my vision , but also in homage to those visions that the metal may have guarded in the past.

-tage sprague 03.28.04 x