Question

Why vultures?

Personally, I find vultures beautiful and fascinating. We are a vulture family: years ago both of my daughters and I simultaneously fell in love with a charming, goofy, gorgeous sixty-something-year-old cinereous vulture named Clarence who used to be one of the stars of the San Diego Zoo's bird show. Clarence became the inspiration for my very first vulture sculpture, and after that I was hooked. As sculpture subjects, their shapes are very exciting visually; from an ecological standpoint, these much maligned birds are crucial to the health of an ecosystem, and unfortunately, many vulture species are among the most endangered birds on the planet. My oldest daughter works with one of those species, the critically endangered California condor. Vultures get such a bad rap: most people think of them as creepy, gross, evil - symbols of death and decay. It is my mission to show the world another side of vultures, using my art to highlight how wonderful and important these big, bold birds are.  


Question

How long does it take you to make one of your sculptures?

That’s a tough one to answer. There are several beginnings and endings to each piece, no matter the size. First, there is the actual sculpture to create out of “thin air” – I start with nothing, then add wax (my favorite medium).  A tiny one may take only a couple days, but any one of my big birds takes about 3 months to “finish.” Then, there is the second start to "finish": the mold has to be made from the original sculpture. This can take about a week for small pieces, and up to a couple months for the big ones. The big birds are cut up and made into several molds. The third beginning to "end" is making waxes from the mold. After a wax has been poured into a mold, it then needs to be cut up or re-sculpted (to fit on its base or found object), then it needs to be cleaned up on the inside and the outside of the sculpture – seam lines, air bubbles, patched wax pieces, etc. The sculptures are cast hollow (except for the little ones) so the pieces must be cut up again, creating windows so that inside and outside will both be coated in the ceramic shell. Very small wax sculptures can be cleaned in a day, but the larger ones take a couple weeks, just working in the waxes. The 4th large stage is getting the pieces cast from wax to metal. That can be another 2 weeks to 2 months. At this stage, I am at the mercy of the foundry and their schedule. The 5th stage: after the piece is in bronze, it needs to be finished – cleaning the ceramic shell off, welding back in the windows, grinding all the welds to make them look like they were never there, cleaning and reshaping the extra sprues off. Then the metal, which always moves a little, needs to be mounted on its base, a process that usually requires some engineering. Finally, the patina (color) gets applied. Sometimes the base requires painting or polishing as well. See! No clear cut answer: it can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months (and all the stars need to align). Believe it or not, this is the abridged version of events! 


Question

Why are there no prices listed for any of your pieces?

Every piece I make is unique. While theoretically casting bronzes from a silicone mold means you produce nearly identical pieces every time (allowing for minor flaws in each casting), my incorporation of found objects and antique pieces along with my bronzes means that the cost of materials and amount of time and labor that go into a finished piece can vary widely from sculpture to sculpture (see: PROCESS). I may get lucky and stumble upon a bargain at an antique shop, and then I may spend several hundred dollars on an imported stone fountain. Most of the exact pieces pictured here are sold and no longer available, but as mentioned elsewhere on my site, I can make a similar piece provided I can find another similar object (so, for example, the two bronze crows may not be perched on a 1908 Royal typewriter, but say I found a 1913 Underwood typewriter - similar overall configuration but there may be a difference in my out-of-pocket cost of the typewriters). For price inquiries, please contact me at (818) 720 - 0080 or vulturesculpture@yahoo.com and I'll be happy to answer those and any other questions you may have.