Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chubby Mouse and his mission from God...

Here's something really touching for my 200th blog post!
Recently Christian Brown contacted me to see if I could modify a bronze mouse to install in his church for a very special purpose.
Since his words tell the story much better than mine could, I'm reproducing his telling of Chubby's latest adventure (from a recent email he sent me).
Take it away, Christian...
Federated Church is located in the village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, just 20 miles east of Cleveland

'Steve - I have lots of pictures to share, but wanted to let you know the mouse was a home run.  There were over 600 people attending the two services.  The Congregation LOVED it, and so did Larry.  Larry's family was really enjoying your handwritten note, and said they were going to frame it.  I told several people about your installations throughout parks and institutions west of the Mississippi and that this was the first one to come east, and the first one in a church.  It is not yet installed, so I can't take pictures of that yet.  

Below was my speech, verbatim, in case you want that background.  We are going to publish an "Ode to Larry" this month in our newsletter that is also available online - called "The Spire".  Pictures to come....'

Larry has run the sound board in the sanctuary for his entire career

Dedication of Larry the Church Mouse: Larry Trace is retiring after 47 years of ministry, as Head of Properties for The Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  
There is no doubt that Larry knows this church building better than anyone.  He knows every nook and cranny, floor to ceiling, basement to bell tower.  It is kind of like children’s story of the church mouse, which doesn’t just live in the church; the mouse is a part of the church.  Even Larry’s office, a space behind two short walls, under the stairwell, is so small that it barely fit for a mouse.  Larry is Federated Church’s mouse, his presence may not always be known, but he sees all, hears all and knows all.  
The church mouse has another meaning for me.   When I was three years old, my family moved to West Bloomfield, MI, and we attended Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian, a large, beautiful church outside Detroit.  In the narthex of the church resided a small mouse beautifully carved into woodwork.  Each Sunday the first thing I would do is run up to the mouse, pat him on the head and have a little conversation.  Like so many other children in that church, we developed a relationship.  He was a dependable, friendly character, and I was excited to come back to church each Sunday.
A few years ago I was back in the area for business and I went back to check on that church mouse, and he was still there, his head had developed a rich patina from all the hands over those 35 years.  I realized that day that my relationship with that mouse was really the beginning of my relationship with Christ.  I wondered how many generations of people have been drawn closer to that church and to God, through their relationship with that church mouse?
And Larry, through his 47 years of service, ministering to this Congregation, he has been that friendly, dependable figure as children of all ages enter the sanctuary through the Narthex.  Generations of people have been drawn closer to this church through your presence.  
But unfortunately, Federated’s Church Mouse is retiring.  So in honor of your service, The Congregation and Staff would like to dedicate this bronze mouse to Larry, which will be permanently installed into this building, for children of all ages to discover, to touch and to deepen their relationship with this Federated Church.  
So Larry, and the Congregation, I would like to introduce you to Federated Church’s newest member, Larry the Church Mouse.

Christian Brown and Rev. Hamilton Throckmorton, Senior Pastor, congratulate Larry Trace on is 47 years of service

The children of Federated Church take part in a standing ovation lasting several minutes

Larry Trace is making friends with Federated's newest member, Larry the Church Mouse

Steve back again now: I'd like to thank Christian Brown and everyone at The Federated Church, at Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Here's my mouse page on my regular HERE
For more Chubby Mouse posts type 'Chubby' into the 'search this blog' bar at the top left I believe.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store where Chubby often hangs out, CritterVille

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque - final patina stage

A couple of posts ago I showed the early stages of a special plaque I was working on.

Here is the conclusion.
Once it comes back from the foundry in bronze it gets metal chased (sprues cut off, washers welded to the back side for hanging, cleaned up etc) and sandblasted ready for the patina.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

First I soak it in Sulphurated Potash solution, which apparently stinks like rotten eggs.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

I say apparently because I've never had a sense of smell.
Which is not to say I've never smelled, of course.

That oxidizes the surface and turns it black, so then I rub it back with scotch brite pads to leave darkness in the  crevices and bring the bronze back out everywhere else, especially the high points.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

Not that they are that high. Most of the plaque exists within 1/8th of an inch of the  background plane.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

Then you heat it with a leaf burner and spray on the nasty stuff!
That turns it a nice rich traditional bronze color, which darkens a little when I brush on hot wax which is later buffed to a shine with a horse hair shoe brush once it's cooled.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture

A bit of wire in the back and voila!
One finished chicken plaque.

Chicken and Mouse bas relief plaque progression picture
It was received very well I must say. The guy I made it for happened to be in Santa Fe on business around the time I was due to ship it, so I met him for a natter and  he took it in person.

He later told me that his wife cried on their anniversary when he gave it to her.
It's especially gratifying to be a part of something that meaningful.

I'm thinking of re-working the top part.
I could leave it blank, put in some clouds, or a quote or saying and make a new piece out of it since I'm really enjoying its storybook feeling.

If any particularly favorite quotes spring to mind, I'm all ears - leave a comment.

Or maybe I'll put some acorns and leaves up there as a prelude to the sky falling down.

Pretty soon I'll be posting a story that I think will be my best ever blog post, since it's true, and way better than anything I could dream up!

So stay tuned for that!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Sunday, September 2, 2012

And the winner isn't...(Hockey Rules never got in touch), so...

A quick contest update....

My 'Win a bronze Winged Angel Mouse' contest has a new winner...

Hockey Rules was a no-show all month, so according to my rules (which may differ from the rules of hockey), the next closest guess wins.

That was 198.6

3 people guessed that, so I assigned each person two numbers on a dice, and now I will throw the dice out of the door while I'm strolling along on my treadmill...

...Right, I heard it land and hit the skirting board, now to go and see who won...

It's #3.

Congratulations.....(drum roll please).....Mary Black!

Unless you don't respond to my email, in which case I'll roll again next month. Eventually my winged mouse will find a home!

On to a new home...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille