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!
While Toussaint was being royally treated, another foundry professional was working on two miniature versions of my Medusa. Medusa is represented today as a monster but was once a matriarchal goddess who was the bridge between the material and spirit worlds. (See more… about Medusa). One of statues was commissioned by a client for his wife, and the other was a flight of fancy. And my flight of fancy is of course blue!
This time it’s a mysterious deep blue that takes on some green accents as it moves into the snake headdress. How I love bringing an ancient myth alive!
Which do you prefer, the classic gold and soft verdigris of an ancient Mesopotamian treasure or the mysterious magical blue of fictional Atlantis?
I expect I will come out of my blue phase some day with a deep desire for another colour, but not quite yet.