Toussaint’s Blue Coat And Everything Blue!
By Dominique Dennery September 5, 2017
I realized I was well ensconced in my Blue Period when I chose, yet again, to put a blue patina on a sculpture. Something about this colour strikes me as royal, as in the fleur de lys. Other shades of blue remind me of the deep blue sea I so love: the aqua blue of the Caribbean, the navy blue of the Atlantic or the peacock blue of the South Pacific.
Bronze is gold when it comes out of its ceramic casing at the foundry. Acids can be applied to give it different hues. The foundry professionals spend years learning how to heat the metal to the right temperature, how to add the acids of different colours with a brush, how to use water to cool the metal down and then apply more colour until you have the right intensity while also maintaining a certain transparency for the shine to come through.
So much can go wrong! You heat too much and you tarnish the metal for good. The brush can leave marks; the layers can be too thick and opaque. But what a beautiful effect when all is done! After the colour, liquid wax is applied to seal it in and also add shine. Antioxidants and other chemicals can be added to protect the statue from the elements.
I decided I would work with blue for the French uniform worn by Toussaint Louverture, the hero of the Haitian Revolution.
I hadn’t told my clients in case it didn’t work out and we had to revert to dark brown or black. Well it worked! The royal blue turned somewhat lighter during the process but the effect is like faded wool or cotton and absolutely wonderful for the costume of a military man who waged war in the 18th century!
The unveiling of Jean-Jacques Dessalines at la Maison du Citoyen (Gatineau)
It was a real honour to witness the unveiling of the bronze bust I sculpted of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, founder of the Haitian Nation at City Hall this week. An emotional moment in the presence of the Haitian Ambassador and leaders of the Haitian community who commissioned the sculpture, the Mayor of Gatineau and the President of the Arts and Culture Committee, friends and family.
From concept to clay to mould to bronze required 10 months of labour with coaching from my mentor Rosemary Breault-Landry, who refused to let me give up in frustration. Working on a historical figure where there is little agreement on what he really looked liked (!) was already a challenge. Add to that building a historical costume in clay — complete with shirt, cravat, vest and decorations, Napoleonic hat and plumage — as the clay is drying fast, and you have a recipe for an Artist meltdown. Thank you to all who provided loving support.