Creature Feature: Cat

Cat, 2016
14” x 30” x 10”
Bronze

A 02 low res

My process is very organic and usually begins with textures found in nature. I rarely have an exact idea or image in my head of how a piece will look in my initial development stages. One of my latest sculptures, Cat, is the product of several inspirations, not all of which might make sense at first. I find this process very exciting as I can often be surprised by the direction I’m going in depending on what I encounter during my creation process.

As with much of my work, Cat began with tree bark. In 2014, I was hiking Mount Hurricane in the Adirondack Mountains when I came across the most interesting texture:

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I’m not exactly sure what species of tree this is or what kind of beetle or moth created the markings, but I was immediately drawn to the texture. At the time, I didn’t have a plan for it, but I knew I wanted to use it eventually, so I cast a mold using a silicone paste to pick up the grooves and details of the surface. The silicone mold is a portable substitute for the tree that I can manipulate and shape before casting in metal.

The idea for the form didn’t begin to evolve until 2015 after I saw a Tasmanian Devil in Australia during my travels. That same year, I saw a beautiful cat-like bronze sculpture in a Japanese museum that interested me.

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The combination of the Japanese sculpture, an actual Tasmanian Devil and some really interesting texture began to lead me in a feline direction. The Tasmanian Devil provided Cat’s long, flat tail and the Japanese sculpture inspired the body and its sense of stealthy movement.

As these ideas and inspirations percolate in my head, I begin by sketching and creating paper molds. Sometimes, these molds don’t exactly take the form that I want them to take. For example, this unfortunately looked more like a hit and run accident than the sleek, feline I had envisioned:

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After some experimentation, I decide to create a figure out of polystyrene and then used the wax mold of the tree texture to wrap around its body. Now I was getting somewhere!

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The end product, prowling around my foundry in Spain, embodies the essence of a feline. It’s small, yet strong, and bold, yet elegant.

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