. I agreed, and we began meeting and talking. She observed me working in my studio, and noted that she had never actually made anything with her own hands, and was not familiar with using tools. She commented that her father had a shop, but she had never worked in it.
- Emily expressed a desire to try her hand at making a sculptural piece. I was designing a series of humorous floral sculptures for the Sculpture in the Garden show at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, so we decided that Emily would attempt to make a similar piece. Here is Emily with my prototype design. Over the next few weeks, Emily came to my studio and worked under my watchful eye to ensure that she used tools and materials safely.
Her first task was to envision her piece, and start on an armature, the skeleton of the sculpture. She cut petals from 100 year old tin roof shingles that I had in the shop. She then hammered them into shape She assembled the petals into the flower’s face by wiring them on a hardware cloth circle. She added chicken wire to complete the armature.
Emily then mixed a concrete composite of Portland cement, screened peat moss, an acrylic fortifier and water, wearing a mask to keep dangerous dust from her lungs. She sculpted it onto her armature, being careful to protect her hands using surgical gloves. She made glass eyes by painting the backs of half-marbles.
After the concrete cured for a few days, Emily coated her flower with a bronze acrylic, and tarnished the metal surface with an acid stain. She allowed the tarnish to act for a few days, and then applied a wax to burnish the surface into a lustrous glow
Here is Emily and her flower in my garden in Fearrington Village. She has now graduated from UNC, and lives in the Atlanta area. Her flower adorns her family’s garden.