Foaming the Armature

Since we last spoke, I have finished the chicken wire cage assembly and have begun to fill the cage with foam.

I use Great Stuff foam and shoot it in through the mesh of the chicken wire. Here is what I use.

Remember, this stuff will expand so don’t put in too much. These three images were taken about ten minutes after filling.

I allowed the foamed armature 24 hours to cure and the images below show the results.

Like I said don’t over fill the chicken wire cage. However, fear not if you do. There is an answer if you do:

There is always your handy-dandy Swiss Army Knife. Use it wisely and the results will amaze you.

And so after a bit of delicate cosmetic surgery, this where the Great Horned Owl armature is as the sun sets on Sugarcreek Ohio.

I Got Chicken Wire

The last time we talked, the sculpture base looked like this (More or Less”). Today I’ll be starting to build the middle section of the sculpture.

The first thing to do is to reinstall the PVC tubing assembly that was removed earlier. Next build a foam blockage between the two legs keep this area free of the insulation foam that comes next. I used a folded thickness of aluminum foil, and this foam. This was completed before the chicken wire was installed. I used this foam, but any brand will do.

Once the foam is cured, I usually wait overnight, before I begin to install the chicken wire. I begin by cutting a strip the width of the bird’s shoulders, and long enough to fit loosely between the tail and the foam plug at bottom, and attach to the shoulder PVC tubes.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the foam is to define the shape of the bird’s torso. The chicken wire, once it is shaped, will be to contain the foam.

Cut a second strip of chicken wire long enough to attach to the shoulders, and reach/attach between the bird’s legs.

Remember this second strip should be long enough to bow out and form the belly of the bird. Attach securely.

Now cut short lengths of the chicken wire to attach between the front strip, and the back strip on both sides of the bird. When you are finished, the PVC Armature should be incased in a chicken wire cage about the size and shape of a football. The head will be completed after the body is complete.

This is the chicken wire I’ve been talking about. you can get it in a good Crafts Shop. It’s 4 inches wide

I’ve recovered from Thanksgiving

It’s now a few days since Thanksgiving, the family has dispersed, and I have gotten back to building the base for “Hootie” (I’ve decided to shorten the name from “Great Horned Owl” to “Hootie”). It’s been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so here are three.

This is from the right rear of the “Base” and shows the start of Hootie’s tail. The two PVC connectors will eventually attach to the rest of the armature. The aluminum-foil is only there to support the two-part epoxy until it hardens. It will disappear into the bird somewhere down the road.

This one is from the right front and shows the feet beginning to take shape. I have formed steel wire. (I would normally use copper, but this is what I had on hand.) Eventually the wire will be covered with epoxy and shaped into the talons of the bird.

This is the left rear, and tail attachment from this side. This about all of the detail of the base I will be doing for now. Once the epoxy sets up, usually overnight, I’ll start attaching the armature for the rest of the owl.

The next time, the “Post” will be about building the rest of the armature and attaching it to this base.

Still working on the Base

Hi Folks,

You are probably saying to yourself—“I don’t recognize either of the two images above!” That’s because you have never seen them before.

Last week was the week of Thanksgiving, and I was busy doing Thanksgiving stuff. My wife Judy and I were scurrying about, meeting and greeting, shopping, talking to family, shopping, playing with grandchildren, shopping, and cooking meals.

Actually, Judy was doing all of that; I was running around trying to look busy, and checking out what I had done so far on the Owl Sculpture. That’s when I realized that while Judy was doing great getting ready for Thanksgiving, I was not doing so well getting the Owl Sculpture off the ground.

So anyway, I started all over again last weekend, and the images above are the results of where the sculpture is right now.

Instead of all the extra detail of putting in branches that contributed nothing, other than adding to the confusion of the overall piece, I now have the Owl sitting on a single tree trunk. I’m back into the original 24-inch height range that I originally had planned on, and the Owl’s feet are beginning to take on some shape.

I expect to continue to work on the tree trunk and feet for the next few days, so it will probably be next before I write again,

Just a Quick Look Back

Last night was the Opening of the Tuscarawas County Art Guild’s “Fall Show”. The Guild will be detailing that event in their “Newsletter”, but it did allow me to gain access to the “Quail Explosion” sculpture that I have been writing about in previous Blog Posts and get some photos.

These are photos on the finished “Quail Explosion”. The quality leaves a lot to be desired, however, if I get the sculpture back from the show (It is for sale and “Hope Springs Eternal” – Alexander Pope) I will take some better images.

You will notice in the upper image there is a crowd gathered around a picture on the right wall. You will also notice that they have their backs to my sculpture. Here’s why:

This is what the Folks are looking at. The heads are all carved out of individual potatoes, dried, and mounted in a weave pattern inside the frame.

The piece won a well deserved award. If you get a chance to go to the Tuscarawas County Art Center before the show closes in December, it will be well worth your time.

Click to go to website

The Bird Needs A Branch

This is the start of filling the inside of the sculpture with something lighter, and much less expensive than two part epoxy. The aluminum foil wrapping this future branch cost less than 50 cents. If I had used solid epoxy it would have cost over $10. Incidentally the total investment so far, including the turntable is less than $25. (The turntable was $12.56, the wood base was about $4.00, and the PVC $6.00.)

I found that the easiest way to apply the foil was to make folded strips, 6 to 8 layers thick, and wrap those around the PVC pipe until you achieve the thickness you want. Don’t get too neat with this process. Wrinkles are good. They create air pockets, and add to the bulk. Squeeze the foil around the pipe as tight as you can.

I’ll be applying the epoxy to this branch next. It will help stabilize the sculpture, and help with proportion to the rest of the sculpture as I proceed.

Just a side note. The Tuscarawas County Art Guild Fall Show opens with a reception this Saturday Evening (November 20). If you’re in the New Philadelphia area stop in. I’ve got a couple of pieces in the show, so I’ll see you there.

Owl Base Armature

Hi Folks,

Pictured above is the armature for the base of the owl. The 3/4 inch plywood oval is 12 X 16 inches, and if you look closely you can see the 12 inch turntable that it is attached to.

The 1/2 inch PVC pipe that forms the armature, is standard material and can be purchased at any Menard’s store. It has been mounted to the plywood using the same two-part epoxy that the sculpture will be made of.

At this point the pipe joints are not secured so that I can adjust the angle that the Owl will sit at. The two “T’s” at the top of the base armature is where the bird will attach.

The next step will be to form aluminum foil around the pipe to build up the diameter of the branches, then begin to lay on the epoxy.

Just a “Heads-Up”. I intend to go into considerable detail on this Blog concerning the sculpting of the Owl. However, I will only be hitting the highlights on Facebook. If you want to be aware of the steps involved it the detailed construction, I suggest you “Subscribe” to this Blog at the bottom of the page. You will get an email when I add a “Post”. Otherwise, you can just “Follow” on Facebook.

The Beginning of an Owl

Hi folks,

It’s November 15, 2021, and I am beginning a life-sized sculpture of a Great Horned Owl.

Just a bit of engineering data. A sitting Great Horn is from 20 to 24 inches tall. I’m shooting for an overall height including the base of 24 inches. The base will be oval with overall dimensions of 18 X 16 inches, and will be mounted on a hidden lazy susan turntable. The sculpture will be in Two-Part Epoxy, and to keep the weight down the armature will be constructed of PVC pipe, insulation foam, and chicken wire.

These are the plans I am carrying around in my head, but at my age, I never know how it will actually come out.

Stay tuned for further developments. If you “Subscribe” at the bottom of this page, I’ll send you an email every time I “Post” so you don’t miss anything,

The Quail March On

Hi Folks,

When we last talked, I was optimistic about finishing up the sculpture in October. This is where I was at that point.

However, this is when I decided to modify the piece a bit. So I began to make some minor changes. I didn’t think that the log did anything to tell the story, and in fact cluttered things up, so I whacked it!

This left me with a dead bird.

It also created a weakening of the overall structure, so the solution was to make things worse. I removed another bird with the intent of switching places with the dead bird.

There’s a leg inside the McDonalds cup, but the cup makes a great support for the bird while I am modifying it.

So as I end this “Post”, here is where the sculpture is today. The brush and scrap of former log are holding the birds in place while I rebuild the internal support system, and I am less certain of completing this sculpture by the end of October.

Someone once said, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking the eggs, but you can sure make a mess”,

Remember This

Hi Folks,

I have been really busy all summer, and I am way behind on my “Posting”, but I’m going to try to catch up starting now.

Remember this????

Not exactly my finest piece of Art!!!!

Not exactly my finest hour. Other than being ill conceived, poorly executed, and created using the wrong material; it was “practically perfect in every way” (Mary Poppins)

So after asking my artist friends what I should do, and receiving their advice, (Which generally voiced the opinion of “Lose that piece of Cr–p!!!) I decided to re-engineer it.

So after a couple of months of work, a change in design, and a change of material, I am now at this point.

It still has a long way to go, but the sculpture is now in two-part epoxy instead of Sculpey, has six birds instead of five, and can be picked up without breaking something off of it. The glass turntable is back to being a work surface instead of being part of the overall sculpture, and I have a glimmering hope that the piece will be completed by late October.

Have Great Day,