Field Notes

wolf species

The Red Wolf Sculpture is Finished. Now What?

We didn’t think red wolf art would be in high demand. We were way off base!

Once Dale completes a sculpture, an obvious question is where will it go? What does one do with a 200 pound sculpture of a red wolf and her cub? Probably not hang it in our living room! And to read more on the inspiration of the sculpture, read our blog Creating A Red Wolf Sculpture.

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“Just Settling In” by Dale Weiler

Because we want to use all of Dale’s sculptures to do the most good for wildlife, we started talking to red wolf experts to get their ideas for using the sculpture. First stop was Chris Lasher, at the NC Zoo. Chris is in charge of coordinating all red wolves in captivity for breeding and their healthy survival (SSP). He also coordinates the SAFE program which works to ensure the species does not go extinct. He’s a true red wolf champion.

Chris Lasher holding a red wolf puppy at the NC Zoo

A Limited Edition Casting?

Our collective initial thought: Given that the stone original is a one of a kind and can only be displayed in one place, make a limited edition casting of the red wolf art to share with various captive breeding facilities throughout the US. Eureka! We’ll cast a pack of wolves and get them in multiple places where they can help heighten awareness and raise funds.

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Chris & Dale check out the red wolf sculpture on the way to the foundry.

After seeing the sculpture, Chris thought many of the captive breeding facilities in the SSP would be able to use a casting. So, the next question was which facilities should be contacted? We kicked around a lot of great ideas and identified some prospective locations.

Next stop, Ben Prater at Defenders of Wildlife to get his ideas and feedback on our initial thoughts. Ben is in charge of the Defender of Wildlife red wolf programs and is another champion in the fight to make sure red wolves don’t go extinct in the wild (for the second time). Again, we discussed some great ideas including Defenders sponsoring several of the castings.

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The Defenders of Wildlife team visiting our studio, Ben Prater, Jamie Rappaport Clark, Nina Fascione & Dale

The final outcome from discussions with Ben: definitely do a casting and try to get it to as many red wolf conservation organizations as can use it to raise awareness & funding for the red wolves. This would not only include SSP facilities, but other organizations involved in wildlife conservation education. So, we added some additional prospects to the list of potential SSP facilities generated from our meeting with Chris.

So How Do You Make a Casting?

Ok, so how do you make a casting? First, you look at options for materials; resin, fiberglass, cement and bronze are the most popular materials. Bronze was counted out because of the high cost and the limited coloration that could be achieved.

Resin and fiberglass might look and feel too much like plastic so we focused on cement, a new medium for Dale. It can go outside or inside making, it more versatile than the stone original. While we were researching casting medium options, we happened to be in California visiting the San Francisco Zoo. Wow, do they have a cool sculpture garden! Not only did they have a wide variety of animals on display, they had them fabricated in all of the medium options we were considering.

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Two bat sculptures hanging at the San Fran Zoo

Bats, a life-size whale, a platypus, and even a hellbender (one of our favorite animals) are scattered throughout the garden. And they are so lifelike. We wondered who is the sculptor who created all these masterpieces?

Turns out, Scientific Art Studio, right in San Fransisco, is the creator. Dale talked to them and they were up for the challenge of making the red wolf castings. Ron Holthuysen, the owner of SAS, agreed that cement would be the optimal medium to create the new pieces.

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A hellbender sculpture at the San Fran Zoo

First, You Need a Mold.

So, how do you make multiples of a one of a kind original? To back up a little, the basic process for making a casting of a sculpture is carve a sculpture, determine the material from which you want your casting to be made, have a mold made of the original and make the casting. Not as simple as it sounds. Each casting is poured individually and then hand painted (or in the case of a bronze, hand patinaed).

But back to the mold. Of high importance is getting the sculpture to the mold maker without damaging it in transit. Luckily, Carolina Bronze, a foundry we use for molds is a short 3-hour drive from us. This avoids the risk (and cost) of shipping the stone original out to California to have the mold made.

A mold is made by pouring silicone over the sculpture and letting it harden. Once hardened, the sculpture is carefully removed from the mold. The mold is then shipped to SAS in California.

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A mold of the red wolf sculpture

Then, You Need a Casting

Next step, off to California for the final coloration of the casting. We initially ordered 10 castings with the ability to make more as we find homes for the sculptures.

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Caroly describing the coloring process on a white cement casting

We met with Caroly Van Duyn, the artist working her magic on coloring the castings. Check out her website, Artistystone, where you can see some of the beautiful handpainted tiles she offers. She explained that each casting needs to be “cured” for 7 days before she applies color.

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Caroly works with Dale on getting the colors right.

Since every casting will be hand colored, each will have its own unique characteristics. There will be no two alike!

Working with Chris Lasher & Ben Prater, we now have homes for the first 9 out of the original 10 castings. Each will be going to a red wolf conservation center to help bring more awareness/funding to the red wolf. We hope to be announcing the individual facilities shortly.

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One of the sample castings

Do You Know of a Good Home for Wolf Art?

If you know of any conservation organizations that can benefit from a casting or you need additional information, please let us know at loti@weilerwoods.com. We are committed to making sure any red wolf facility that can benefit from one, gets one. And the only cost to the red wolf facility is shipping and installation. Go red wolves!

And where will the original be going? Stay tuned…

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