Sighthounds and in this case Scottish Deerhounds have been inspirational for artists, writers and poets through the ages. It is exciting that it is still so in the 21st century. I would like to introduce you to Joan Creel Winner of the Scottish Deerhound Club of America (SDCA) Art Competition at Lompoc California 2010.
Joan is the sculptor of this stunning bronze sculpture which is perfectly homed at Fernhill with Barbara Heidenreich and Richard Hawkins. How phenomenal it is that an artist new to the medium of bronze sculpture would turn out such an outstanding piece as a relative novice. I should have asked Joan how many hours went into this piece, it probably would be astounding. I am reminded again that a latent passion to create should never be ignored; what a pity if a gift such as Joan’s were never to be realized. Thankfully Joan is creating new pieces and will continue to do so I hope.
I asked Joan to tell me a little about herself and her process, I am sure you will be interested to read Joan’s own words.
“After admiring and collecting Deerhound art for decades, retirement to Montana seemed the perfect time to explore a special interest — sculpture. Having a foundry that casts bronze art pieces close by spurred me on, and after taking a short course class in the lost wax process, I started my first Deerhound sculpture, working in clay.
Casting in bronze is an interesting process. First, a rubber mold is made from the finished clay and covered with a rigid shell to maintain the shape. Melted wax is poured into that mold to create a wax replica of the clay original, and when it has cooled, the shell is broken off to reveal a wax replica of the original clay. A system of wax rods called the sprue is attached to this wax replica to ensure that molten bronze will fill extremities, such as legs. Next, the wax replica is encased in a heat-prooof material called the investment. When molten bronze is poured into this investment, the wax burns out and is replaced by bronze. Once this cools, the investment is broken off and you have a bronze sculpture, ready to be finished. If the sculpture has been cast in pieces, they are welded together. Then the sculpture is chased, or polished, to remove any rough spots, and the sculpture is ready for a patina. Because the rubber mold of the original is not harmed by this process, a signed and numbered limited edition can be cast following the same process.
My first bronze, called “Dusk” in honor of one of Isak Dinesen’s (Karen Blixen’s) Deerhounds at her Karen coffee plantation in Kenya’s highlands, turned out pretty well, so I donated one to the SDCA for a National Specialty fundraising auction.
Several people other than the winning bidder were interested, and pieces from the edition of ten were cast to order for them.
Most important, Barbara Heidenreich and Richard Hawkins of Fernhill became my mentor/collectors, critiquing clays in progress as I moved on.
The next project was for them — a larger outdoor bronze that now resides at Fernhill and can be seen on the Fernhill web site. Step one in this process was to complete a small version, the maquette, or model, that an enlargement company used to measure data points that were entered in a computer-driven machining tool that carved a styrofoam enlargement of the desired size.
After refining the styrofoam a bit, then covering it with a clay layer and doing the surface detailing, two large bronzes were cast, one for Fernhill, the other for Mary Ann Rose, who joined Barb and Richard in supporting the project. The maquette size piece became “The Chase” my second tabletop bronze. Again, I donated one for auction at another SDCA Specialty.
For this year’s Specialty in Oregon, my auction donation is a bronze from my newest limited edition, “I Know Where I’m Going”, featuring a pup and named after a film beloved by Deerhounders.
Just completed in clay is “On the Beach”, a maquette for a piece initiated by Kris and Bayard Smith and Joan and Joe Giles after they visited Fernhill and saw my first larger bronze. This maquette will be cast in bronze by Specialty time, where the Smiths and Giles will show it in hopes of generating subscribers for a Limited Edition of ten signed and numbered large bronzes. The concept of sharing appealed to me, since dividing production costs among ten collectors makes sculpture far more affordable, and it gives me another opportunity to work on a larger scale.
It’s been over six years now since I retired, and the time has flown, thanks to the most perfect creatures under heaven and the wonderful people who breed them.”