Sunday, October 24, 2010

George Washington Carver sculpture

Below are 3 photos I took over break at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri. My mom and I have been going to this place almost every Fall Break since I was 4. GWC (born 1864) was the son of slaves on the Carver Farm in SW Missouri. George went to school and later too college to study horticulture because of the love for plants that he developed growing up on a farm.

He went to grad school at Iowa State University in Ames and got a masters I believe. Then he became a professor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. There he focused on one crop that he planted as a child; the peanut.

He created over 100 different uses for peanut for the food industry. He is most known for creating peanut butter. Earlier forms of peanut butter had been around, but he created the kind that we enjoy today.

This sculpture is made out of bronze and was creating using the "lost-wax" technique. A clay model was made by an artist. Then a multi-piece plaster mold was taken from the clay model. The plaster mold was reconstructed without the clay model inside leaving a void. Hot wax was then poured inside and allowed to cool. This clay replica was then covered in a ceramic shell of slurry and fine silica sand. The wax model and the shell attached was then placed into a "burn-out" kiln to melt the wax out leaving another void. This hot shell was then immediately moved near a heated furnace with a crucible full of hot bronze in it. The crucible was then "tipped" and the bronze flows inside of the shell and allowed to cool. The shell is then knocked off revealing the bronze sculpture. Minor details and errors were "chased" with grinding tools and the piece was sand blasted, polished and sealed.

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