St. Augustine Footsoldiers Monument
The making of the sculpture


  These images show the clay model of the sculpture at the Artist's studio. The is one step in the process of creating a bronze sculpture.

See the entire collection of photos on ...
flickr logo
An Overview of How It's Done
by B. R. Owens
  The images at the top of this page show the "full scale clay model" of the sculpture. The heads are life-size.

The sculpture was entirely recreated in bronze by hand using methods invented about 3500 years ago, probably by civilizations located near the Mediterranean Sea. These methods were later brought to a very high level by the Greeks who perfected the "lost wax" method of bronze casting.

But before any bronze work is begun, the first step is to develop an idea; a design. This sculpture proceed in 3 stages as is customary for this type of commission. During the first stage, I proposed my ideas by developing a "preliminary design" in the form of illustrations. When these illustrations were accepted, the client moved forward with their fundraising. Work on the sculpture officially began on September 4, 2009 during a contract signing ceremony held in the Plaza de la Constitucion on the spot where the completed bronze was installed.

Hence, the second stage (to complete the full scale clay model) was underway. With the full scale clay model complete, the client could finally see what I envisioned from the beginning and with a "thumbs up" from the Client, I was free to proceed to the third stage: The irreversible process of bronze casting.

So labor intensive is the process of bronze casting, that most artists (wisely) employ the services of a foundry, where bronze is cast into special molds and finished by highly skilled metal workers (many of whom are sculptors themselves).

A trusted colleague and myself delivered the bronze sculpture from the foundry to the Site by truck on May 10, 2011. A forklift was used to lift the sculpture off of the truck and lower it into position on the cast-stone base. Once we were certain that everything was perfect, a custom-made, lockable cloth cover was installed over the sculpture to conceal it from the public untill the unveiling ceremony a few days later.

As an artist, you have to stop working at some point and when you do, you're not really sure that you got it right. So I listened with great interest to the comments of people who were watching the installation, people who were seeing the sculpture for the very first time before it was covered; seeing the sculpture in a proper setting out of doors as I intended it to be seen; people with no vested interest in whether the sculpture succeeded or not.

To create a sculpture in bronze is no small investment. Bronze is an alloy. You cannot go out and find it in nature. You have to make it. The invention of bronze - the deliberate fusing of 2 dissimular metals to create a new metal with properties different from its constituent parts - was a vital step in the "Ascent of Man". So important was this new metal and the new way of thinking that accompanied it, that we have marked off a whole section of human history and labeled it "The Bronze Age". Now, we launch our robotic probes into deep space and tinker with things so small that they can no longer be called "things" at all and still, we never tire of this ancient alloy. When we need to depict the people and events that show the human species at its very best, we return again to the metal that started it all, the first metal invented by men.
  foot soldiers memorial sculpture 1
It was decided that the Sculpture would be installed on City property in this corner of the "Plaza de la Constitucion", near a renovated structure (on the right) that was used to auction slaves.
The street on the left is Martin Luther King Boulevard, so named because he marched in St. Augustine (yes, St. Augustine) in 1964.
  foot soldiers memorial sculpture 2
Someone famous said: "Begin with the end in mind". Well before I started working on the clay model, I began suggesting ideas on how the entire Site might look when finished.
This was an early architectural model of the Site, with an earlier wing-shaped version of the Base. The area behind the Base is a donor-recognition area. This concept was set aside in favor of a Base of simpler design.
  st. augustine foot soldiers 1
In this concept, the donor-recognition area included names engraved in granite and bronze plaques.
The final Site design is more elegant and straightforward. Sometimes "less is more".
  st. augustine foot soldiers 2
First, a structure was made from steel and plastic coated foam on a rolling table. Everthing is designed to be adjustable.
The clay model (shown at the top of this page) was sculpted over this.
  st. augustine florida 1
By this point, I knew how I wanted the four figures to look: Their apparent age, expessions and emotional states. All of the clay is sculpted at the same rate, more or less. This type of project is like a chess game: You are always thinking ahead by as many moves as possible.
  st. augustine florida 1
The clay is sculpted carefully in order to achieve a balance
between the need for creativity, the need for precision and strength and the need to stay within budget.
  st. augustine florida 2
The bronze casting process involves many steps. One of those steps involves recreating the clay sculpture (shown at the top of this page) in wax. On the left above, you see the wax version of the Crescent Shaped Base; the base that the four "Subjects" connect to.
When the wax is perfected, you're not even halfway through the process of bronze casting.
  florida civil rights movement 1
The temperature of molten bronze is taken using a pyrometer
at Bronzart Foundry, Sarasota, Florida.
  florida civil rights movement 2
Molten bronze is poured into special ceramic molds
at Bronzart Foundry, Sarasota, Florida.
  st. augustine statue 1
A model of the cast stone base designed by Enzo Torcoletti
and built by Pedroni Cast Stone in Jackonville, Florida.
  st. augustine statue 2
A huge concrete mold was fabricated
to produce the cast stone base.
  st. augustine public art 1
Enzo Torcoletti inspects the curved bronze plaque
that will be installed on the front of the cast stone base.
  st. augustine public art 2
The cast bronze "subjects" and the "relief" are test fitted
using a jig that holds it all in position.
  st. augustine foot soldiers 3
The cast bronze "subjects" and the "relief" are test fitted
using a jig that holds it all in position.
  st. augustine foot soldiers 4
This "bird's eye view" shows the four "subjects" suspended
in air in front of the bronze "crescent-shaped base".
  florida civil rights 1
This photo shows how one of the bronze "subjects"
is supported from below.
  florida civil rights 2
The cast bronze of "Subject Three"
after the surface has been perfected
but before the patina was applied.
  st. augustine remembrance project 1
A large forklift lowers the 7500 LB Base into position.
A custom footer lives beneath the concrete pad.
  st. augustine remembrance project 2
With the sculpture suspended from above, the mounting
holes are carefully filled with adhesive.
  florida civil rights history 1
Commissioner Ken Bryan fits his custom-made cover
over the sculpture to conceal it until the unveiling
ceremony a few days later.
  florida civil rights history 2
After a moving ceremony under a structure that was
once used to sell slaves, the sculpture was unveiled.
  dr. robert hayling, an american hero
Dr. Robert Hayling - one of the father's of the Movement in St. Augustine; a community dentist whose hands were deliberately broken by a mob of segregationalists - was one of the speakers.
  hank thomas, freedom rider
Mr. Hank Thomas, who was raised in St. Augustine, is one of the few living "Freedom Riders" and was the ceremony's keynote speaker. One of the things I admire about Mr. Thomas is how he told his story - a ghastly story of survival - without turning the audience off. I presumed that all of my heroes were dead until I met Dr. Robert Hayling and Mr. Hank Thomas.
  civil rights memorial statue 1
The "installation site" also includes a walkway and
custom-made benches with donor-recognition plaques.
  civil rights memorial statue 2
The completed sculpture is 675 LB of bronze connected to 7500 LB of cast-stone connected to a concrete pad. The concrete pad is centered on a footer (below it) made of portland cement.
  civil rights statue unveiling 1
The sculpture is located near the corner of King St. and Charlotte St. in the southeast corner of a public park named the "Plaza De La Constitucion" (or, the "Plaza" for short) in the city of St. Augustine, Florida. This is almost certainly the oldest public park in the United States that still functions as a park.

The four subjects are anonymous, as were most of the Foot Soldiers, but represent who they were (as best I could anyway, given the limitations I had to work with): A white, male college student; a black man in his 30's; a black woman in her 60's; a black girl, age 16.

The relief illustrates a mass protest that took place in the Plaza where the sculpture is now installed and faces the buildings where the first direct confrontation with authority was made.

This sculpture - commissioned and paid for by the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project, Inc. - was given to the City.
home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back home back telephone
home l biography l sculpture l portraits l drawings l paintings l pastel l press & media l articles by Owens l services l private l links l what's new? I contact info