In 1991,Morgan Faulds Pike created a series of drawings that quickly demonstrated the concept of the statue envisioned by the sculptor. From these drawings, a small clay study, or maquette, 20 inches high, was made by her to design the three dimensional composition that was submitted in an international design competition to the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association (GFWA). The basic gestures and proportions of the figures were determined in this small scale where change was relatively easy. When the concept had been approved by the GFWA, the clay maquette was cast in plaster using the waste mold process.
After a careful search, a suitable boulder, weighing about 20 tons, was found for the base for the bronze figures. A structural engineer designed the massive 20-ton foundation and the anchoring system to withstand frost, wind, and water damage. The boulder was installed at the site in June 1998 in order for the scale model to be built accurately from it.
Landscape designer Ann Gilardi Johnson, working closely with the sculptor, created a site plan that would be crucial not only to the sculpture’s appearance in the context of the landscape but to the experience of the visitor to the site.
A half size, (4 foot high) scale model was completed in January 2000. In this model, all of the important aesthetic, anatomical, gesture and clothing details were worked out. To begin, a surveyor’s transit was used to make careful measurements of the top of the boulder base in order to duplicate it in half scale so that feet of the figures would stand correctly on the uneven surface.
Using the maquette for reference measuring, an armature (skeleton) was carefully constructed from steel and wood to support the clay. The clay was laid on the armature as nude studies were made from models prior to adding the clothing. The scale model was waste-mold cast into plaster. The sculptor then worked directly on the plaster.
The full size clay, 8 feet high, completed by the sculptor in November 2000, was an enlargement of the scale model. A plaster cast was made of the top of the boulder base. On this plaster base a strong armature was built from steel and wood. Selected locations called points were transferred from the scale model to the full size armature using a pantograph (pointing machine). Flexible rubber molds were made on the clay and these in turn were backed up with steel reinforced plaster “mother” molds.
In the winter of 2001, at the bronze foundry, wax positives were made in the rubber molds. The wax was in pieces that were the exact thickness that the hollow bronze would be. The sculptor worked on the waxes to improve and correct details. Gating channels, made of wax, were added to the wax pieces to provide routes for the melting wax to escape and for the bronze to flow into the mold. The waxes were dipped into a liquid material and a ceramic shell was built up by dipping and drying many layers. The shell was baked hard and the wax melted out.
In late spring 2001, molten bronze, at about 2000°F, was poured into the molds. After cooling, the ceramic shell molds were chiseled and broken away and the rough bronze pieces were exposed. The gating channels, now solid bronze, were cut away. The pieces were welded together using the same alloy as the poured casting. The feet were fitted to their particular locations on a second plaster cast of the top of the boulder base.
With a propane blowtorch, the metal was heated and various chemicals were applied to achieve the desired color or patina in the metal. A thin coat of wax was applied to bring the patina to life and to protect it. An anchoring system for attaching the bronze to the boulder was specified by a structural engineer.
On June 21, 2001, the bronze was trucked to the site where the boulder base had been drilled to accept the stainless steel rods and the strong epoxy grout bonding the feet of the figures to the granite. The bronze patina will be maintained by washing and waxing it at least once a year.
Contributions towards the maintenance of the memorial are welcome. Please send your tax deductible contribution to:
2 Blackburn Center
Gloucester, MA 01930
(make checks out to GFWM, Inc.)
For more information about the memorial, or to learn how to inscribe a granite pathway stone, please contact Mary Ann Genovese either by telephone at 508.344.9225 or via email at [email protected]