Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Mentor Program: Treacher Collins Syndrome

Cari Amici,

Today, the 31st of July, is my birthday. I turn 44 officially at 6:09 p.m. (‘ gotta get that power of three from somewhere!) Mathematically speaking, I should have twice as much fun as when I was 22 and four times the fun of my “terrible twos.” Right? I am looking forward to this . . .

But for now, I want to introduce you to “my kid” Rudy. OK, so he is not technically mine and he is no longer a child. I met Rudy Sanchez Jr. on 13 February 1992 through the City of Austin’s Mentor Program. I was working in image preservation back then and 11-year-old Rudy, along with 13 other children considered “At Risk,” waited in his elementary school library to meet their new mentors. As my co-workers and I walked into the room, Rudy enthusiastically shouted, “Who’s my friend?”

In all honesty and shame, being the queasy type, for that first moment, I had hoped it was not I. However, we still reminisce fondly about that day and celebrate this anniversary each year. Rudy rarely ceases to teach me things.

Rudy was born with Treacher Collins’ Syndrome. It is a facial-cranial birth defect that left his head severely deformed. Rudy has been in surgery more times than anyone I have ever heard of. His first one happened shortly after his birth to repair a cleft palate.

Rudy has a few other struggles, but he has always taken one day at a time. He is more optimistic than most and a smile is never far from his lips. He has learned how to play the drums and the guitar and teaches children at his church these skills. He often helps his parents in their print business and finds other jobs where he can.

Unfortunately, Rudy has been without teeth for about three years now. The doctors pulled out his last remaining teeth he had so that they would have a blank canvas with which to work after they did more surgery to extend his lower jaw. His mother tells me that Medicare will not pay for teeth because they are considered cosmetic. She was told she had to raise $13,000 to buy her son some teeth.

So, Gail Ferris at Modern Renaissance and I are pooling our resources and starting a fund raiser to help Rudy. I am in the process of choosing some of my images from Italy and we will create an edition of canvas giclée prints.

I have been working a lot on a private bronze commission and so I have not had time yet to fully prepare my images and the Web page for this canvas print project for Rudy, but I will be posting more information over the week or so. In the meantime, please visit what I do have online at:

Teeth For Rudy

So, as you add to your personal art collection or give the gift of art to others, know that you will be helping a young man to enjoy the simple pleasures of eating a healthy meal.

Wikipedia’s page on Treacher Collins Syndrome

The Craniofacial Center in Dallas, Texas USA

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bronze Sculpture Patina

Cari Amici,

Are you interested in watching this bronze sculpture patina process? I hope so. I find it fascinating, while at times frustrating. In my earlier post I described how after the “chasing” of the bronze sculpture (in which I re-sculpt or touch up any details after the sculpture has been cast into bronze and welded together), I thoroughly clean the metal sculpture.

There are two basic kinds of bronze patina: hot and cold. I tend to prefer the hot. But that is only the beginning of the choices available. The patina I have chosen for this bronze sculpture titled “Against the Dying of the Light” is a somewhat classical and translucent coloring for bronze.

We used a chemical called liver of sulfer in this initial application. Normally this can be applied cold, but we used a torch for a different effect. In this photo, you can see how amazingly splotchy and random the first application was. I do love this mixture of rust, blue, purple, and yellows that results (and for some pieces of art in the past I have wanted – in vain – for this effect to stay).

But I must admit: I am often baffled and amazed at the perseverance of the first person(s) who came up with such elaborate processes. Some of the patinas I know about and/or use require multiple layers and complicated steps – often mixed with some luck. I mean, how many steps does one take when the result appears to be going in the non-desired direxion before one gives up hope that the project is salvageable? (This is a valid question in many areas of life, is it not?)

There are so many tricks and variables with chemicals and heat. Temperature is a most sensitive part of the equation. If the bronze is too hot, the reaction is too swift and the results often look burnt. If the bronze is not hot enough, very little happens. If the bronze (or leftover investment mold inside) is too thick or of inconsistent thickness, results will vary tremendously. It takes quite a lot of experience to get a feel for why the metal is heating up as quickly or slowly as it is and what to do about it.

Once the bronze metal has become the desired temperature in any given area, the liver of sulfer is applied. This can be done in a variety of ways, usually by hand with a paintbrush or with a sprayer. The effect is different with each application.

Allora, I save the rest for another day as I must return to work now.

But for your reading pleasure, here are some other goodies I ran across recently:

Wanna see images of Michelangelo, the brute?
Click here
This in conjunction with a related exhibit at Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy.
Portraits of Michelangelo
The museum’s English site

Here is an article about art being used as loan collateral:

Quotes from article (please read full article in context):
"Art now is seen as a definite asset class which is traded,"
“They may loan against a specific work, several works, or a whole collection, generally up to 50% of the market value of the collateral.”
“Often, a collector who borrows against his art can keep it on his wall.”