Friday, April 15, 2011

Sculpture and Expenses

 I needed 6 gallons of rubber to make the molds for these two carvings.
Nesting birds, carved concrete, 24"x 12" x 6" ©Patrick Gracewood
"Rich Autumn" carved concrete, 24"x 12" x 6" ©Patrick Gracewood

You can see where I ran out of rubber on the right side.
Somehow I confused gallons of rubber with pounds of rubber. It's sold by the pound. The result?  I was mixing and pouring rubber when I realized there wasn't going to be enough.

Stuck halfway. Go forward or retreat?

It was an expensive failure and a lesson in sculpture economics. To finish the project I need an 80 lb kit. That's $462.44 of material that I can't justify right now. So instead of buying more rubber, I'm scrapping the mold, and going to show the prototypes instead of casts.

The mold rubber I use is called Poly 74-45. It's made by Polytek, a company in Pennsylvania. I went online to see if I could get it directly from the manufacturer and save some money instead of buying it through Fiberlay, our local Portland supplier.

Polytek sells an 80 lb kit for $440.00, Fiberlay sells the same for $462.44. Their markup is only $22.00, which includes shipping it across the country! Comparison shopping made me realize what a slim profit margin Fiberlay makes on this product. A little understanding makes me appreciate them much more.

All this goes to show some of the material costs (and emotional costs!) involved in making sculpture. 


kara rane said...

I wish more non-artists (clients) knew how expensive art materials are. Recently was in SF, & one of my favorite art stores is now gone (Pearl). I understand ordering online but much enjoy the actual store, too, and how difficult it is too keep a brick & mortar biz going.

Cindy Michaud said...

Fascinating information...tragic loss, I guess new rubber and set rubber don't "marry"? Can you modify the mold and cast only one side? This has me on the edge of my seat.....

and re: Kara rane - I think it is our "job" to educate the non-artists, just as Patrick is doing here.

Patrick Gracewood said...

You are right.Nothing beats holding a real material-paper, drawing or sculpture tools in a store. Virtual is vastly overrated,no?

Cindy, Most folks have NO idea the number of steps, stages and materials involved with sculpture. It's so expensive to make, That's why I'm working in cast stone instead of bronze!

It turns out that yes, new rubber will bond with older rubber. I was so disgusted with myself for confusing pounds and gallons, I needed to stop.

Did get the nesting birds recast by a pro when I made the St Francis sculpture. He's expensive but I LOVE writing him the check. It's one stage and big headache of my work I'm happy to job out!

Theresa Cheek said...

The agony and the ecstasy! I am constantly having to find a way to keep integrity on a job without it breaking the bank!

Angeline-Marie said...

@Kara & Theresa - I wish more non-artists understood, too!!!

Patrick - NICE way of explaining the pain of work and cost! With everything becoming more expensive, your alternative of using concrete is still very beautiful.

Can the rubber molds be re-used?