Field Notes

wolf species

Creating a Red Wolf Sculpture

wildlife conservation
Photo: Rebecca Bose, Wolf Conservation Center

A red wolf sculpture was not on our minds when we visited the NC Zoo last spring. But after seeing their red wolves for the first time, we learned the only wild red wolves in the entire world (yes, the entire world) live in our home state of North Carolina. And with less than 40 left in the wild and just over 200 in captivity, they are critically endangered and may soon become extinct (again) in the wild. For the whole story see our red wolf fact sheet.

Wow, we wanted to help protect the red wolves so Dale came home to see if he could find the perfect piece of stone to create a sculpture to bring awareness to the plight of these magnificent creatures. And was there?

Is There a Red Wolf in the Stone Pile?

As he looked at his stone stash (and he has quite the pile of rocks), he came across a piece of Utah alabaster that screamed red wolves with red and greens in the stone. And inside the stone, he could visualize two red wolves, a mom and her pup.   Can you look at this piece of raw stone and see 2 red wolves? Well, I couldn’t either but Dale saw them clearly.

red wolf sculpture
April, 2018. The raw stone, Utah alabaster

A Bas-relief

Since the reddish coloring in the stone is only in the first several inches of rock, Dale decided to carve a bas-relief. A new challenge for him. It turns out bas-reliefs can be much more difficult than full depth, three-dimensional sculptures. You have to achieve the perception of depth without having much stone with which to work.

Getting Started

After spending literally hundreds of hours studying photos and talking to red wolf experts, he is ready to get started. First, he sketches the mom and pup on the stone.

Sketching the red wolves

Next, he begins carving an outline just to get a feel for the stone.

red wolf sculpture
Beginning to carve the red wolves

The Pup is Proving Challenging

Creating the pup is proving to be most challenging. First unearthing the head and front paw and then moving back into the leg and shoulder. You can see from the photo below the sculpture, Dale is modeling the pup on a 2-week old baby.

wolf sculpture

Finally, the pup begins to emerge. Note all the safety equipment Dale has to wear while he carves.

 wolf sculpture
Beginning carving

Months Later…the wolf sculpture is taking shape.

Four months later, Dale is still at work. The next stage includes roughly carving (or blocking-in) the mom and then fine-tuning some details into the pup. He periodically puts water on the stone to see how the colors of the stone are developing. In the photo below, he has put water on the mom but not the pup.

wolf sculpture
 wolf sculpture
The mom and red wolf pup are taking shape

Finally, it is time to carve the fur.

wolf sculpture

With the sculpture finished, Dale treats the stone with numerous coats of clear sealant to enhance the coloration in the stone and protect it from the weather.

Stay tuned to see how we plan on using the red wolf sculpture for conservation. It should be very exciting. In the meantime, here is how you can help protect our last remaining red wolves.

wolf sculpture
“Just Settling In”, the finished wolf sculpture
Feb 2019

How You Can Help

Tell your politicians you support red wolves, organize a talk to a scout group or other youth group, or talk to your Rotary or Kiwanis club.

Write letters to the editor or articles for your local newspaper.

Check out Red Wolf Review which has some great resources including a checklist “How to Help Red Wolves”. Very handy.

Visit one of the 43 places which breed red wolves located throughout the US. You might be surprised to find one in your own backyard.

Follow wolf conservation organizations on social media such as the Red Wolf Coalition.

And of course, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see the latest updates on the red wolf sculpture & red wolf news.

Donate to a red wolf conservation organization. Some are listed below.

NC Zoo. Designate their red wolf captive program

Defenders of Wildlife

International Wolf Center

Endangered Wolf Center

Be Passionate & Curious. And Share!

Join us in working to save our red wolves. Together we can make a difference!

wolf sculpture
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