I. The Design
II. The Maquette
III. The Enlargement
IV. The Final Sculpting
V. Epilogue
 
'Its About Time'
The Sculpting of the General James Longstreet Memorial
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The Enlargement

Many years ago, I watched my brother Ben as he hammered at a piece of wrought iron. After it had taken the shape of an ax head, he laid it aside and picked up a long piece of curly maple. He cut, carved and sanded the slender, tapered handle smooth. Small pieces of silver plate were cut to size and inlaid into the wood with a watchmaker's precision. Fine silver wire, hammered flat, was installed against the inlays to create a twisting, turning lace-like filigree. Finally, he assembled all the pieces, engraved the metal and completed the wood shaft with a warm reddish stain and oil
finish. In the end, he cre-ated an extremely beautiful eighteenth century chief's grade tomahawk. What had originally been only a collection of common ele-ments, in the hands of a true craftsman became a work of art.

The Longstreet enlarge-ment was to become a for-midable project. Wood, steel, wire, clay and vari-ous other items would eventually be turned into a larger-than-life figurative sculpture; however, I was not to complete the task by myself. Other artists and craftsmen would be in-volved in the preparation of this stage as a prelude to the final sculpting effort.

First, a meeting was held with the foundry personnel. We discussed how the project was to pro-ceed and the responsibility and duties of each person involved in the work.

Those constructing the steel armature began calculating the dimensions of the horse and rider. Relating to my earlier discussion of size versus my idea of heroes at ground level, it was determined to make the sculpture 30 percent larger than life. This required that for every 1 inch on the maquette, it would equa17.5 inches on the enlargement.

Armed with projects drawings, plaster maquette, cutting torch and arc welder, the foundry crafts people at Art Research Technology began the arma-ture with vigor.

During the armature construction, I began gathering the appropriate uni-form and other gear from the studio. Along with these, the notes, project file, model photos and a collection of books formed the nucleus of information I would use during the enlargement and final sculpting phases.

My recent move to Gettysburg allowed me to meet old friends at the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute. Before long, I was graciously given studio space in the West Building on the campus of the College. A clean up of the room was top priority, after which, a banner reading, "The Official Gen. James Longstreet Studio", was hung above the door in anticipation of those traveling to visit the work in progress.

With the room in readiness, I returned to the enlargement to assist the foundry staff in any way I could.

During the months of preparation of the enlargement, I was constantly searching for the perfect horse model. Hero was my anchor beneath Longstreet, a mooring, the perfect muted pedestal on which the General was to be seated.

Soon after my relo-cation to Gettysburg, I was driving along the Mummasburg road when I happened to see a beautiful, large, mus-cular horse grazing in the field. After I stopped the vehicle and walked to the fence, the massive animal came trotting to the fence as if to say hello. I reached out to touch her head and she immediately nuzzled her soft white nose into my hand. Being a country boy, I got the message. Not having any sugar in my pockets, I quickly walked the fence row picking the choicest green stocks of grass to offer my new-found friend. Offering "my sugar" across the fence, I felt her thrust her nose into my hand again and she began eating.

After the feeding episode, I walked across the road to inquire at a near-by house as to who owned the magnificent horse. I knocked, but had no re-sponse, so I left a business card in the door with a short note scribbled on the back. Later that night, I received a phone call from Mr. Jack Bucher, who identified himself as the owner of the horse in question. I found him to be extremely interested in the project, and he offered his assistance as well as Summer, his horse.

A few days later, I met Jack at the barn, and he introduced Summer to me. Little did he know that we were already buddies. I reached into my shirt pocket and gave Summer her sugar cube, which, I later learned, she would expect at each reunion.

I knew Summer was a large horse; I soon found that she stood at nearly 16 hands. Her soft, furry coat was a beautiful reddish color with bright white stockings and flash on her head. Her blood lines were a mixture of Belgian and Quarter horse. The thick neck and muscular shoulders, legs and rear quarters offered the perfect broad seat for the General. Her head was quite large with a sculpted bone structure around the eyes and ears giving way to soft flowing lines toward the nose. The hooves, more than 7 inches across, were the base for the towering, muscular, powerful legs that reached upward to a round barreled form. Thick fur on the rear of each leg came streaming down until it reached the hoof and then spilled over like a water fall. This long flowing fur, I learned from Jack, was called feathering.

With Jack's insistence, Summer began trotting around the enclosure near the barn. She held her head high like a champion, as her muscles flexed and her long streaming tail floated in the breeze. Each hoof pounded out a mes-sage of strength and resolve. As she set her pace, the feathering on each leg resembled a tall silver maple tree bowing in a high wind with the leaves fluttering and fanning the breath of nature. On that bright, sunny afternoon, I found a model; I found a war horse; moreover, I found Hero.

Jack helped as I took the necessary photographs and measurements. I completed a few thumbnail sketches of Summer's key elements, and pro-ceeded to enjoy the company of a both a fine horse and a gentleman. After-wards, driving through the area, I would make it a point to stop with sugar cubes and renew my friendship across the fence.

Back at the foundry, a wood base capable of supporting an armature of clay and steel was being constructed. Four 8-inch rubber swivel wheels were attached to the base for mobility. This feature would come in handy when rotating the piece for better light when I was sculpting.

The steel frame armature, covered in expanded metal and representing stick figures of horse and rider, was attached to the base. Because of the size of the door opening at the studio at Gettysburg College, it was necessary to build the armature in two pieces. These pieces consisted of a major portion of the lower half of the horse and rider, just below his waist line. The upper portion consisted of the upper torso of the General and the neck and head of Hero. Attachment of a chain hoist hook from the ceiling into the steel rings welded to the armature at the head of the horse and rider, allowed the two elements to be separated by raising the chain hoist. A male female slip joint fitted with a locking pin was located in the neck of the horse. This joint allowed for a solid, safe and true alignment connection.

Now that the armature was complete, the next step was to begin applying the soft clay to the expanded metal. The clay was in cardboard boxes ready to be opened and used as needed. Each box contained 50 pounds of 1-inch-square by 6-inch-long bars. Every bar was molded by hand, mallet or roller before being placed in a strategic location on the armature. Around and around, ly-ing on my back, hanging off the ladder, measuring and remeasuring, checking every detail to assure the initial shape conformed to the project drawings and maquette - this was the procedure followed.

Days, then weeks passed during our labor. Finally, we stood before a mal-leable, soft-edged form of Longstreet and Hero, devoid of detail. As we looked over the work, my eyes caught the rather large stack of empty boxes. After a count of the containers, it was calculated, to our astonishment, that a little more than 2000 pounds of clay were consumed in the effort. Even though a ton of material was applied layer by layer, possibly 200 to 300 additional pounds would be used to complete the equestrian.

Now that the enlargement was completed, it had to be separated and trans-ported to the studio at Gettysburg College. With assistance from the foundry personnel, the operation began with the removal of the locking pin and at-tachment of the chain hoist front and rear. I took up the cutting wires, previ-ously installed in the front and rear of the armature segments, and pulled and began severing the piece as the chain was tightened. Quickly; the top segment became a floating figure above the larger base. After the top segment was placed on a pallet on the foundry floor, the base element was wheeled across the floor to the waiting van of the truck. Deposit-ing the base into the van, workers returned with a forklift loaded with the top half of the enlarge-ment on its forks. The top half placed into the van, both pieces were then strapped securely for the journey to Gettysburg.

By now, safe to say, the Longstreet enlargement was big news. Already, local television and newspaper coverage had given the project tremendous ex-posure. The day of delivery to the studio was special for everyone involved. It was tangible evi-dence that the goal of placing Longstreet on the field at Gettysburg was nearer to becoming a reality. Albeit, in two pieces and un-finished, the work drew a crowd of friends and well-wishers to greet the truck delivering Longstreet. Representing the media on that momentous day were Moon House Media, The Gettysburg Times, The Hanover Sun and The Civil War News.

When the truck came to a stop in front of the studio door, its large van doors opened. The crowd, now including college staffers and members of the National Park Service, eagerly peered into the darkness to catch a glimpse of the mighty figure.

Immediate action by the media became the order of the day. Snapping pictures, roving video operators and point-to-point interviews went on as the truck driver, foundry crew and I discussed the best approach in trans-ferring the two segments into the studio space.

A fork lift driver from the college maintenance staff was given the task of removing the two segments from the van of the truck and placing them on the pavement immediately in front of the studio door opening. During this time, a chain hoist was being installed in the ceiling joists of the studio. The wood base on wheels, and containing Hero's body, and powerful legs and the General's legs, was rolled toward the door of the studio. The fork-lift then was used to lift the lower segment in an effort to deposit it into the studio room. Because of the existing elevated walkway, however, it was impossible to get the forklift close enough to the door to get the armature segments entirely into the room. The driver backed up the forklift, placed the armature segment on the pavement and left. Later, he returned with a front-end loader with a backhoe bucket attachment. By rigging the bucket with a set of forks and a chain, the crew was able to keep the armature in place securely. Confidently, the driver moved toward the studio door, inch-ing his way closer and closer with the weight of his load causing the in-flated rubber tires of the loader to jerk and weave in a disturbing manner.

During this time, Sport, my beagle and Shepherd mix and my studio dog for 13 years, lay soundly asleep on his rug in the studio. After a time, sufficient noise was produced to awaken him. After yawning and stretch-ing, he came strolling out to determine just what all the commotion was. He immediately drew the attention of those present. This quiet, loving ani-mal kept following me, his master, as I moved from place to place observ-ing the action. He seemed to have a calming effect on those present, as they petted, talked to and whistled at him. Longstreet, the man of the day, for just a short time took a back seat.

A council of war met, involving the foundry staff, David Swisher, of the College maintenance department and me. During the Sporty-coming-out--party, a last- minute measurement of the double door entrance into the stu-dio was taken. The latest dimension revealed that the base armature was nearly 1 inch too tall to fit through the door opening. Therefore, the informa-tion dictated that we remove not only the two metal doors, but also the wheels on the front end of the base segment before moving it through the opening. Once through, the operator of the backhoe proceeded to elevate and tip the piece just enough to allow the replacement of the wheels previously re-moved.

We were all ex-tremely proud. A po-tential disaster was averted by resourceful and talented individuals. Now, it was just a little more than releasing the chains and straps securing the base to the forks and pushing it onto the concrete floor of the studio. This completed, the base segment was moved to the side of the room directly beside the chain hoist hook.

During the initial moving ordeal, I stood outside the studio door, offer-ing assistance only as required, while cajoling the backhoe operator to ease the tension. At this time, it was brought to my attention that the calmest on the scene were Sport, now sunning in the yard, away from the noise and commotion, and I, leaning against the building, arms folded with eyes peak-ing out from under my wide-brimmed straw hat. My response was that, "There are times in your life that only complete trust will get you through.
And, if I cannot trust those about me, especially the foundry crew who would eventually be entrusted to mold, cast and erect the General, then whom could I trust?" Sport, in the meantime, ambled over to the pond near the building, took a swim, then returned to inspect the progress.

The filming, interviewing and photo snapping had lessened a bit by now. But then the operator lifted the top entity of the armature, consisting of Hero's head, thick neck and the General's upper torso, sitting atop the wooden pallet. The media's interest, returned to the rhythm previously experienced.

Moving toward the studio door in the bobbing and weaving fashion witnessed during the first delivery, the final portion was to be inserted in the room. In as much as my father related earlier in my life, that experience is the best teacher, we all were confident souls that this piece would be an easy fit. And so it was. With little effort, the pallet, with its cargo, was successfully set on the floor directly under the chain hoist and a collective sigh of relief filled the room.

The loader operator was sent away with a hardy pat on the back and con-gratulatory statements by all present. Sporty even went to his side and looked up at him as if to say, "Job well done; now, pet me!"

The rattle of the chain hoist signaled that the lifting of the top portion of the armature was to take place shortly. The foundry staff attached the hooks to the armature ring connection and began to hoist away. With a few tugs of the chain as it noisily moved through the steel wheel, the General floated upward. After the segment had been hoisted to its highest point, we moved the bottom portion into position. It was found that a higher connection on the ceiling joists was required to get the top segment to a higher elevation, thus allowing the bottom element ample room for fitting into position. So, Longstreet floated back to the floor, and the hoist was readied for the next attempt.

Confident that the correct height was now obtained, the clanking of the chain hoist began in earnest. This time, success was our reward. Mov-ing the base segment into position, directly under the top portion, the chain operator began the slow de-scent. As the two halves came to-gether with some hesitation, the male female connectors needed to be reintroduced and finally forced into position with the use of a bar and strong arms. During this time, the cutting wires, previously used to sever the clay at the separation point were replaced to be used again in the near future.

We were satisfied with the connection of the two segments; the locking pin was screwed into place, and the enlargement delivery was complete.

Many weeks, months, even years, had gone by to this point. After all the fund- raising, traveling, meetings and telephone calls, the Longstreet Memo-rial Fund and its contributors were now welcome to come to the studio to watch the sculptor bring to fruition their combined efforts.

For now, it was just a smooth suggestive form. There were no eyes or beard on the General. His uniform was not defined by folds or braid. Not even a button existed.

Hero, as well, did not possess his muscle tones, flustered tail, bulging eyes or flaring nostrils. The saddle, harness, bags, reins and valise were only visions in my mind. As my grandmother had said, "Dreams (visions) are just the first step before becoming reality." Now, my hands and talent were entrusted with this task, to change dreams into reality.

The dedication of those before me had paid off. Now, I had to dedicate myself further to the final stage to complete this project. As I closed the door and walked away from the studio that day; after all the others had gone, I had only one thing on my mind: It's about time; finish it!

 
 
'Its About Time'
The Sculpting of the General James Longstreet Memorial
 
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