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Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Riley... Maureen Riley... a sculptor, but enough about me.

My latest piece is called "A Good Carry". The twist of the body and the tension of the front legs, show that moment when relaxation is starting to work its way through the body after hard work, with an eye to well deserved praise and affection. I am happy to be able to present it to Spaniel Journal, along with an a brief tome about the process of creating a sculpture. Just in time to celebrate a most favored time of year - today I felt fall in the air, and for me, a sense of anticipation for the season and the presentation of this new work go hand in hand. What a lovely way to celebrate the season.
"A Good Carry", an origional English springer spaniel sculpture
created by Maureen S. Riley

The Process of Creating Sculpture... a Sculpture of a Spaniel

The reasons for making a spaniel sculpture are two fold: first, many requests and second, the athletics of the field bred English springer spaniel are high drama - and my work is all about motion. Ironic that my first sculpture should depict a spaniel spent from retrieving a bird.

For my approach, I start with research. I try to get out and study the subject first hand by spending time observing the dog in the field. I enjoy getting to know each dog personally - spending even more time just sitting near them touching their shoulders and studying their paws. All of this works well in getting a feel for my subject.

From these impressions, I sit and draw from life while I am with the dog or dogs and take numerous photographs to work with back at the studio. Once back in the studio, I have an area to spread out all the images and just study them. I then take my sketch book and start creating compositions. Some ideas I save for later, but one usually rises to the surface. It is that one which I refine and ponder, trying to recapture a sense of the time spent with the dogs.

Next, I make small maquettes or models of the composition in clay. Finally settling on a composition, I create an armature to support the clay of the sculpture. Work from here on is like that of creating any artwork. It involves lots of hard work, tearing apart and rebuilding until what I see in my mind is what I see in clay.

Once I am happy with the sculpture, the piece is photographed from all angles and the original is sent to the foundry to be molded and the casting process is started..

"The twist of the body and the tension of the front legs, show that moment when relaxation is starting to work its way through the body after hard work, with an eye to well deserved praise and affection."

Creating bronze sculpture involves an interesting process. It's very old, one might say ancient. It is steeped in tradition and unknown to many. The process involves creating an original piece in clay or wax. Once completed, a rubber mold is made. This mold is used to create each edition in wax. Each piece in the limited edition is truly a one of a kind as each must be reworked in wax to make certain all the details are accurate to the original sculpture. The wax copy of the original is used to create the edition in bronze by the lost wax process, much as fine jewelry. Once cast in bronze, the metal needs to be hand worked to correct any problems that may have occurred in the pouring of the molten bronze. Traditionally, chemicals are applied to the surface with heat to create a chemical reaction on the surface, to protect and color the piece - creating the finished patina.

It is an old process that I hope to use to bring about something new.

Maureen Riley

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