Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Manolis' Workshop

Today we visited Dad's friend Manolis at his workshop. Manolis makes high quality brass cast sculptures, and my dad is one of his wholesale customers.

Mr. Manolis and his wife welcomed us with great cheer, and I quickly saw that this is a man who loves his work. When he found out that I have a degree in sculpture, he proudly showed me around the shop and explained the casting process. From what I understood (my Greek is still limited) it's as follows:

First, a prototype is commissioned, carved from soapstone; this piece is very detailed, but it is fragile if dropped!
The prototype is laid into a bed of sand, removed, and the molten brass is poured into the depression. This is done for both front and back, and then the two pieces are joined. Then, the edges have to be cleaned and the piece gets sanded and polished. This first casting then becomes the working prototype, and the stone version is put safely away.

Every step of this process is handled with great care-- casting is really not a process to try to undertake unless you are meticulous-- and there is a lot of work involved even after the casting step is complete.

While I've made molds out of plaster and latex, I've never seen one made of sand, and I was grateful to see the process. The amount of detail retained by the sand impression is amazing, and the cast sculptures are beautiful, even more so after Manolis finishes them with an acid oxidation process, adding mottled green and black and brown tones, and finishing with a wax process to make the piece smooth like glass.

After showing me the process, Manolis threw one of the statues on the concrete floor and I startled, but he laughed saying that they never break once cast in brass-- if you burried one today you could dig it up a thousand years from now and it'd be the same. The same for the patina; the color is fast.

Of course, I can't help but entertain the idea of immortalizing one of my own sculptures in bronze... and I am grinning because Manolis has promised to demonstrate casting on one of our next visits!

Here is Manolis at his workbench, buffing away the patina on this sculpture so that the shiny brass surface shows through.


Two large brass helmets with a black patina; they will have more work done to the patina and then they will be polished with wax.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home at Last

A week ago today I was frantically trying to get to my home town in Ohio, from a wedding three hours away in Michigan, after my car broke down on the way. I had a flight the next day, you see, and I was already going to be getting very little sleep, even without car troubles.
Let's say, hilarity ensued. I got where I needed to get, didn't I? Let's leave it at that and forget it all. Because right now I am sitting with my dad on our porch in Hersonissos, Crete-- my real home town-- and enjoying the clean dry air, and the smell of good food from the restaurant below us, and a glass of Cretan Raki.
I'm going to have a lot to write-- already the things I could tell you! But right now, I just want to relax, and enjoy being home for the first time in six years.