Cycle of Life: Sea Turtle Glass Sculpture

by Kathleen Sheard

A sculptural exploration of sea turtles and the threats to their existence created at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass.

THE CYCLE OF LIFE

“Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out” — James Bryant Conant

cycleoflife-logo

The Passion

Sea turtles have long been a passion of mine.  I want to start with WHY I need to bring this piece of art that lives inside of me to life.  I am both humbled and blessed to have the support of family and friends and community.  I begin by sharing the words of others about me and my work.

“Friends and family of nationally recognized wildlife artist, Kathleen Sheard, would agree she has surrendered a “comfortable” life in favor of a good life. A good life, rich with purpose, forged by relentless devotion to the exacting creation of stunning and astonishing massive glass wildlife depictions coupled with passionate advocacy for the subjects of her art.

Kathleen’s lifelong passion for wildlife, particularly those endangered and threatened, has inspired her to create a life-size glass sculpture of the Loggerhead sea turtle as well as hatchlings of the other species and their complete cycle of life. This sculpture will expand the magnificence and boundaries of glass as well as be a wonderful educational tool.

Loggerhead Hatchling
Loggerhead Hatchling

“The beauty of art has the ability to draw people in and touch the soul in a way that education becomes seamless and brings many dividends in public awareness. No time should be lost in bringing greater awareness to the harm and even eradication of sea turtles and indeed, all marine life, caused by oil spills, pollution, and trash, almost exclusively brought on by human action. The recent oil spills only serve to remind and further highlight how fragile and vulnerable our wild native spaces are. I feel a special need to bring attention to how our actions negatively affect ocean life.” says Ms. Sheard.

This inspired and very complex sculpture will take nearly a year to prepare for and will culminate in May, 2016 at The Studio in the renown Corning Museum of Glass , where Ms. Sheard and her team of six professional glass artists will have access to the equipment and kilns necessary to build a piece of this magnitude.

Resources are required to bring this vision to fruition. It is estimated that this project will cost nearly $75,000 in materials, equipment and studio space to complete. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” The truth of these words is deeply profound and yet, how many of us live it? It is possible through support of projects such as these.”

The Project

This multimedia sea turtle sculpture will be called The Cycle of Life.  It will incorporate multiple glass cast and fused components on a 5’x6’x21″ wooden platform.  The cast glass sculptures will include a life-sized mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle (the most ambitious casting), cast eggs and hatchlings of all seven threatened and endangered sea turtles. Potentially, pending space availability, the sculpture will include a juvenile sea turtle coming in from the ocean and the official sea turtle nest sign that is used universally by patrols.

Graphite Drawing of The Cycle of Life
Graphite Drawing of The Cycle of Life

A kiln-formed “oil spill” will incorporate vague skeletal images of a gull, dolphin and a ghost crab and/or other ocean wildlife that are also being destroyed by the same forces.  The tracks will highlight the intentional destruction of a “marked” sea turtle nest by four wheeler beach traffic.

Initially, my first life size sea turtle sculpture was going to be two sea turtles as they were swimming in the waves.  Then came Tropical Storm Claudette, Hurricane Gustav and other storms drowning many sea turtle nest eggs in 2009 followed by the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.  Seven sea turtle species are officially threatened or endangered.  Their cycle of life is threatened.  My focus changed to the environmental degradation of the sea turtle species.  This sea turtle sculpture is a work in progress. Instead of the sea turtles dancing in the waves, my prototype clay sculptures are on a beach that is encroached on by an oil spill.

Oil Spill Kiln Test
Oil Spill Kiln Test

I have begun the physical manifestation of a vision I have had for over 38 years.  A new and larger process.  A passion that continues.  To persevere to move forward and embrace change – a constant in life.

The Components

The Cycle of Life installation will include multiple glass components including the cast, fused and slumped glass sculptures.

  • Mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle – interlocking cast glass sections – estimated overall size – 34″x22″8″ (8 or more sections)
  • Seven Sea Turtle Hatchlings – Australian Flat Back, Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Olive Ridley – individual cast glass pieces (7 pieces – for the seven endangered or threatened species)
  • Sea Turtle Nest – Sunken nest and berm created by mother’s flippers, nest and eggs – individual cast pieces (estimated 20 pieces)
  • Oil Spill – Various sections on top and side of box – fused and/or slumped glass (estimated 12 pieces)
  • Skeletons/oil covered Wildlife Bodies – Fused and/or slumped glass (estimated 2-4 pieces)
  • 4×4 Tire Tracks – Cast and/or slumped glass (2-6 pieces)
Sea Turtle Nest - Clay Prototype
Sea Turtle Nest – Clay Prototype

The Team

Due to the number of components and complexity of the integration, this project will require a team. Six professional artists, passionate for the environment, the turtles and glass have committed themselves to collaborate with me on the manifestation of The Cycle of Life.

Glass Scute Artist Study
Glass Scute Artist Study

The following is a short introduction to my team and the individual strengths they bring to the team.

Pat Arnold – Pat is an artist and organizer from Alexandria, VA. She has extensive experience as a student and teaching assistant at The Studio at Corning. Although she does not work as an artist full-time, her experience as a systems analyst and arts organization leader will help us work most effectively with the Studio and maximize the results of our Collaborative Residency. I am thankful to her for her professionalism in orchestrating the presentation of this proposal.

Cathy Coverley – Cathy, from San Diego, CA, has hands-on experience with large castings and I value her painterly knowledge of inclusions in cast glass. She has been a Resident Artist at Uroboros Glass Works in Portland, Oregon and has been a teaching assistant twice at the Studio, once for Gerry Newcomb and once for me. She has studied casting with Bertile Vallien and Linda Ethier and recently took a workshop from Irish glass artist Karl Harron that will vastly help us to create the sunken sea turtle’s nest. She brings incredible knowledge to the team and helped work on the initial clay proto type of “The Cycle of Life” sculpture for my one woman show. Her insights into nature and her love of sea turtles translate into her glass.

Carol Webb – Carol owns a glass studio in Duluth, Georgia where I have taught since 2008. We have met for several sea turtle patrols in Florida. Her love of glass and exploration of all aspects of how it works is invaluable. A recent commission involved creating unique molds for draping and slumping glass leaves. I have asked her to ramrod the oil spill section of the sculpture. She and Pat will also be working on the fiber skeletal forms that will be indicated under the oil spill.

Michelle Kurtis Cole – Artist, environmentalist, engineer and educator Michelle Kurtis Cole has been creating with glass for over 40 years, and scuba diving for about the same amount of time. She is currently working with Scripps Institution of Oceanography testing glass sculptures as substrate for coral regeneration. She has studied internationally with master glass artists of high regard. Her work is held in private collections across the US as well as Japan, Czech Republic, Italy, England, Hungary and Spain.

Katie Patten – is a native Montanan working with art glass since 1978, including stained glass commissions, retail, and teaching in the Missoula area. Currently she and her husband market kiln-fired glass with an emphasis on the intentional manipulation of glass qualities, creating plates, bowls, sculpture, wall pieces, hanging panels, lighting and jewelry. She has studied with Kathleen in her Montana studio and looks forward to contributing to the Cycle of Life process.

Dennis McCloud is the official mascot, cook and chief engineer for the Cycle of Life projects. Dennis is the husband of Pat Arnold, another member of the team. Dennis brings his engineering and project management skills to the project in addition to his culinary talents. With the nickname of MacGyver, he has a way with electronics and mechanical systems. Computers that are acting up suddenly start working when he enters the room. Dennis has already invented a steam attachment system to remove wax from the many molds used for the Cycle of Life project.

Kathleen Sheard – I am the designer of this complex, yet exciting sculpture. I want to make a strong statement about not only protecting all the turtles, but protecting all wildlife. To draw people in with the beauty of all the glass – but to educate and say….”Hey- Look what we are doing here. Remember this. Remember to walk with the wild ones and not destroy”. I have asked these artists to collaborate with me to bring this vision to reality. I asked each one because of the integrity of who they are as people and artists and that with our collective technical skills and accrued knowledge we can create a powerful statement.

We all want to make a strong statement about not only protecting all the turtles, but protecting all wildlife.  To draw people in with the beauty of glass and to also educate.  I have asked these artists to collaborate with me to bring this vision to reality and to create a powerful statement.

The Location

The Cycle of Life will be created in The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.  While the piece will be started at the various locations of the artists involved, the art work will be finished and completed in the studio at Corning.  This will be a month long process for the seven of us to accomplish.  We have rented work spaces in The Studio, including the kiln room, mold making room, cold working room and other equipment for May 2016.

Corning Museum of Glass - Corning, NY
Corning Museum of Glass – Corning, NY

The Funds

This immense piece of work will only come together through a team of glass experts using high quality materials and the finest equipment. Unfortunately glass is not an inexpensive medium. Glass takes both collective physical and financial strength. The cost estimate is $75,000 to fully fund the project in its entirety. This is a bold and courageous undertaking and the largest scale I have ever attempted. While it may seem daunting to some, my team and I are passionate and driven to see the project through for both the value of the art and the irreplaceable value of sea life. We are excited to be on this journey and invite you to join us.

How You Can Help

Personally endorsing this project is just one of the ways you can become an advocate for not only sea turtles but all wildlife. Of course, we deeply appreciate your monetary support, but volunteering with organizations which support wildlife can make a real and meaningful difference. Ways to be effective in saving our planet’s sea turtles can include simple acts like picking up litter from the beach, bringing in beach furniture to turning off beach house lights so hatchlings head to the ocean instead of inland.

If you are interested in sponsoring this art education project or making a donation please contact Kathleen via this website. for the details in making a payment. The sea turtles and the project team thank you!

Hatchlings
Hatchlings

THE PASSION + THE PERSEVERANCE = THE PROCESS

THANK YOU

Without the blessings of many kind and supportive souls who I have had the good fortune of knowing over the years, this project would not be nearing its stage of manifestation. You are my cheering section, prayer partners, sounding boards, hands and hearts. I thank you. I profoundly thank you. There are so many, but I offer special and heartfelt gratitude to my team of artists and dear friends who continue to help fulfill this dream of large cast glass wildlife. Listed, but not limited to – Pat Arnold and Dennis McCloud, Heather Carter, Curt and Stacie Chandler, Michelle Kurtis Cole, Cathy Coverley, Sam Demas, Heidi Elliot, Dick and Judy Estler, Cynthie Fisher, Sandy Gadd, Melonie Housman, Cindy Martin, Katie Patten, Mike Phillips, Diana Tracy, Bill Wargo, Carol and Paul Webb, Vanessa Wheeler and Claudia Whitten. Amy Schwartz and Harry Seaman from The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass – for their help in setting this up and their continued help as we set up through this next year into May 2016 and the culmination of this special to my heart educational art work.

Field Photos

Bucket Hatchling - This little guy was too small to make the frenzied march to the ocean. He will stay here for a day until he has matured just a little more and will be released to make it to the ocean.
Bucket Hatchling – This little guy was too small to make the frenzied march to the ocean. He will stay here for a day until he has matured just a little more and will be released to make it to the ocean.
Kemp's Ridley - I had the honor of helping to release this turtle back to the ocean after being caught by a fisherman.
Kemp’s Ridley – I had the honor of helping to release this turtle back to the ocean after being caught by a fisherman.
Here is a great shot of a Loggerhead Hatchling that just peeked through its egg to get its first view of life.
Here is a great shot of a Loggerhead Hatchling that just peeked through its egg to get its first view of life.

Risks and challenges

The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass has granted us a 3.5 week lease in May, 2016 to kiln cast and fuse the sea turtle sculpture, The Cycle of Life. In all the time preceding May, 2016, my team and I will be focused in preparation of the parts, artist studies and molds so they will be ready when we reach the museum’s facility. All that can be done in advance, will be done, as to use the leased space in the most effective way possible.

Even with well thought out, effective preparation and execution, it is possible for something to go awry. In fact, it likely will. I accept this. It is the organic nature of glass that at times can make it unpredictable and that’s one of the reasons I find it so magical.

Being a glass artist for nearly forty years has gifted me nearly every possible thing that can go askew and if it hasn’t happened to me personally, it has likely happened to one of the team members. Working with glass gifts you with becoming a proficient problem solver. Every contingency plan for every possible scenario has gone through my mind a thousand times. Please be assured, we are prepared and we are ready to soar.

If you are interested in sponsoring this art education project or making a donation please contact Kathleen via this website. for the details in making a payment. The sea turtles and the project team thank you!


Project Updates

Update 37

The beginning of the glass frenzied hatch, Corning May 2016

Update 36

These photos are from Ann Cady, ARC Photographic Images, who graciously came in to The Studio at Corning and documented the process of the sculpture. Thanks, Ann!!! These photos were taken May 27th and you can see additional oil spill sections on the side counter. We need to finish the oil sections, slump the carapace and the sea turtle nest, and finish the hatchlings before we can do the final assembly. Dennis McCloud, has designed a system that is very cool and effective, to attach the oil spill and healthy ocean sections that will be draped over all sides of the base. This is our “draft” lay out as we continue to finish the final cast and fused glass sections.



Update 35

More cast glass Mrs. Loggerhead being taken out of the plaster and a photo of the carapace.



Update 34

Closeup’s of the cast glass Mrs. Loggerhead
Here is the mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle, life sized, in glass, just waiting for her shell to finish firing in the kiln. I’m back from a month at the Corning Studio of Glass, NY. working on The Cycle of Life Sea Turtle Sculpture project.



Update 33

Ecology Project International opening night
Watching children come up to touch the glass oil spill, having their parents follow them and then get to have a short chat about oil spills and plastic in the ocean and how it is harmful to sea turtles and all marine life – were multiple special moments in last nights opening at Ecology Project International headquarters in Missoula, Montana. Thank you to Haley Hanson and all the team for inviting me to participate in your annual First Friday event!


Update 32

Here is a short photo collage of current progress photos that was also posted on Facebook. Carol Webb and Katie Patten have made great progress on the oil sludge sections. Cathy Coverley is creating a beautiful carapace for Mrs. Loggerhead in multiple panels. Liz Braun has joined the team and is adding her expertise to the hatchling mold making process. The Olive Ridley hatchling clay model is in the silicon mold.

There is a board member meeting at a sea turtle hospital/rehab center and new to be children education center this week. When we know officially where the sculpture is going to live I will announce it.






Update 31

This is the plastron cast glass tail section of Mrs. Loggerhead.



Update 30

Thank you to all you have donated and have been watching our progress.  The Team
is at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass and we are finishing the environmental education sea turtle sculpture Cycle of Life.  We continue to accept donations in support of this project if you are so inclined and are offering thank you gifts for some levels of donation.  You can contact me for further details.

Pat Arnold catagorizing photos so we have full documentation of the sculpture

Pat Arnold catagorizing photos so we have full documentation of the sculpture
Australian Flatback and Leatherback – glass cast ones begin this week

Australian Flatback and Leatherback - glass cast ones begin this week






Sculpture base work in progress – Dennis McCloud

Sculpture base work in progress - Dennis McCloud



Mrs. Loggerhead Cardboard mold for Carapace




The clay mold that the carapace of Mrs. Loggerhead will be slumped into.




Team member Cathy Coverley, Phoenix Art Glass, from San Diego, is in charge of creating Mrs. Loggerhead.





1/2 Plastron mold for Mrs. Loggerhead – Cathy Coverley

The images are the two sections of the plastron of Mrs. Loggerhead. The tail section and the head section. Both are currently in separate kilns. The tail section we should see in 2 to 3 days. The head section will not be ready to open the kiln door till May 23rd. We then will have to wait a couple more days to remove the plaster until all is at room temperature.









Glass oil spill sludge – Carol Webb and Katie Patten

There is the assembly phase of each oil section with Katie Patten, Mercurial Arts, Missoula, Montana, cutting all the base plates and slivers of multi-colored water sections. Carol Webb, C3 Studios, Duluth, GA. applies the “wonder goop” that becomes the oil sludge in multiple firings. Kathleen and Carol add accents of coloring and litter.







Alginate is poured over wax sludge to form a mold. The “wonder goop” is mixed with Bullseye 1119, Sienna Brown, to form the base glass sludge in the second firing. Other Bullseye glass opals are added to accent sections of the sludge.









Again – Many Thanks!  Kathleen Sheard, Ms. Turtle Sister.

Update 29

Everyone should try traveling with clay hatchlings, copper wire armatures, plastilina clay, sharp pointy tools and pliers and sea shells and other organic items to make textures!:-). Oh, yes and glass samples in an assortment of shapes! I never leave home now without any of these things and my bags are searched each and every time! The first image is my clay Leatherback hatchling in progress in a traveling container which is nestled in a small tub with all other items for my studio on the road.  My special thanks to Dr. Sam Rivera, veterinarian and turtle expert extraordinaire, for the reference photo for the plastron of a Leatherback hatchling.

Travel mode for clay Leatherback Hatchling Carapace and other parts
Travel mode for clay Leatherback Hatchling Carapace and other parts
Photo reference of plastron (bottom shell) of Leatherback Hatchling - photo courtesy of Dr. Sam Rivera
Photo reference of plastron (bottom shell) of Leatherback Hatchling – photo courtesy of Dr. Sam Rivera

Update 28

Clear carapace for the miniature Mrs. Loggerhead study
Clear carapace for the miniature Mrs. Loggerhead study
Artist study flippers, head and tail for the miniature Loggerhead
Artist study flippers, head and tail for the miniature Loggerhead
This is the mini Mrs. Loggerhead - scutes will be added to the clear shell base
This is the mini Mrs. Loggerhead – scutes will be added to the clear shell base
Initial layer of scute with clear base and cut sheet glass
Initial layer of scute with clear base and cut sheet glass
Second layer of accent colors on single layer scute
Second layer of accent colors on single layer scute
Third layer of color with glass powders on single scute
Third layer of color with glass powders on single scute
A shelf of single layer scutes pre firing
A shelf of single layer scutes pre firing
Single layers that will be stacked and fused for scutes
Single layers that will be stacked and fused for scutes

Team member Cathy Coverley, Phoenix Art Glass, from San Diego, California is busy assembling a miniature version of the full size Loggerhead sea turtle that will be on the finished sculpture.   The images of the scutes that are shown (individual sections) of the sea turtles shell will be pre fused two or three layers deep to give more color and dimension to the sea turtles upper shell.  As in the flippers, head and tail a variety of amber’s are used to see what will work the best.

Update 27

Detail of healthy ocean with oil sludge encroaching
Detail of healthy ocean with oil sludge encroaching
Healthy ocean with oil sludge draped over edge of surface
Healthy ocean with oil sludge draped over edge of surface
Artist study of healthy ocean with oil sludge in it
Artist study of healthy ocean with oil sludge in it

Team Member Carol Webb of C3 Studios, in Duluth, Georgia continues her studies of making a realistic glass oil sludge.  In the over all sculpture we will have glass oil contaminated ocean with a small viable section of healthy ocean.  We call these pieces artist studies as we continue to experiment with different colors of brown, both transparent and opalescent, to find the best options.

Update 26

Stanchion layout with undetermined panels
Stanchion layout with undetermined panels
Stanchions with shrimp trawler netting panels
Stanchions with shrimp trawler netting panels

Team Member Dennis McCloud, has established this link to show the making of the sub base of the Cycle of Life wood sculpture base.  Please click on the link to view the images.  In addition I have posted two drafts that he sent me of the stanchion posts that we will post around the sculpture.  We will refine until we figure out what best protects and accents the artwork.
https://flic.kr/s/aHskxfnBFj

 

Update 25

Artist studies of scutes for Mrs. Loggerhead
Artist studies of scutes for Mrs. Loggerhead
Same scutes in natural light on window sill
Same scutes in natural light on window sill
Tiny flipper artist study for color selection
Tiny flipper artist study for color selection

COL Team member Cathy Coverley is busy with a miniature version of Mrs. Loggerhead. Artist studies of scute coloration are the first two images. One image on the table and the other in a window for natural light. Also a tiny little flipper as she experiments with Opaline glass so the flippers, head and tail will have a slightly different transparency then the carapace and plastron of Mrs.Loggerhead’s main body.

Update 24

Artist study of full size section of glass oil spill
Artist study of full size section of glass oil spill
Detail of glass oil spill
Detail of glass oil spill

Cycle of Life

Glass oil spill section successfully slumped over edge
Glass oil spill section successfully slumped over edge

Sea Turtle Glass Sculpture – Art Education Project – team member Carol Webb is busily working on the prototypes of the sections of the oil spill. She has successfully slumped the first section over a 3/4 radius.

Update 23

Waxes and clay models of hatchlings and pipped hatchlings
Waxes and clay models of hatchlings and pipped hatchlings
Hatchling clays covered with rubber silicon
Hatchling clays covered with rubber silicon
Shells and a rock covered with rubber silicon
Shells and a rock covered with rubber silicon

I have been traveling in connection with my sculpture and thus the time between postings. As we head into the next six weeks I will post as I can but many parts need to be finished up before we get to The Studio at Corning. Trying a new silicon rubber on the plastilina clay for the hatchlings. Also making silicon rubber molds of sea shells and rocks that will be incorporated into the oil spill.

 

 

Update 22

Cathy Coverley, our team member from San Diego, CA., a fantastic glass artist in her own right, is working on the prototype of Mrs. Loggerhead. This model is about one third size of what the final cast glass mom-ma sea turtle will be. Once Cathy fine tunes the clay she will be making a plaster mold and going through the steps to create a cast glass Loggerhead, including more glass color studies. When this is finished we will have discussions on what needs to be modified a bit and she will orchestrate the life size clay model. Then Cathy will make the plaster molds that we will take to Corning where Mrs. Loggerhead will be completed for the sculpture.

Mrs. Loggerhead left side view clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead left side view clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead's prototype right flipper clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead’s prototype right flipper clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead's prototype head clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead’s prototype head clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead full body facing forward clay model
Mrs. Loggerhead full body facing forward clay model

Update 21

Close up Loggerhead hatchling waxes
Close up Loggerhead hatchling waxes
Close up clay to wax pipped hatchlings
Close up clay to wax pipped hatchlings
Silicon molds, clay to wax models
Silicon molds, clay to wax models

From clay to silicon rubber molds to waxes. Next to fine tune the waxes, make wax feeder molds – then the plaster molds over the wax, melt out the wax and then put molds in kiln – add glass to plaster molds and FINALLY more cast glass hatchlings. I am going to find a firmer Plastilina clay and another test size of silicon rubber. Working this tiny is continuing to add to my never ending glass art education. JOY!

Update 20

One more clay hatchling to finish and then back to mold making.

Getting close to final color selections for seven hatchling species
Getting close to final color selections for seven hatchling species
Three color samples and two clay hatchlings
Three color samples and two clay hatchlings
Four of the color samples for the hatchlings
Four of the color samples for the hatchlings

Update 19

Getting closer to replicating real Florida beach sand with my color combinations of fine particle size frit.

In the bottom container Florida beach sand. In the cup my combination of glass frit to replicate the real sand.
In the bottom container Florida beach sand. In the cup my combination of glass frit to replicate the real sand.
Shades of gray frit for shading in sand
Shades of gray frit for shading in sand
Background frit in sand color study pre firing
Background frit in sand color study pre firing
Larger photo of latest study. Dark to light moisture in sand in nest.
Larger photo of latest study. Dark to light moisture in sand in nest.
Earlier squares of sand color samples and latest color study
Earlier squares of sand color samples and latest color study

Update 18

In break times from working on the sea turtle base I worked on my clay sea turtle hatchlings. I am redoing the Loggerhead hatchling from earlier and when finished will make some more waxes and molds to cast the next round. In the last image Michelle Polland, a volunteer on Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol, is holding a loggerhead sea turtle egg with the hatchling just starting to emerge from the egg. This is called a “pipped” hatchling.

Reference photos and clay parts for hatchlings
Reference photos and clay parts for hatchlings
Parts and finished clay hatchlings
Parts and finished clay hatchlings
Clay hatchlings in progress
Clay hatchlings in progress
Clay green hatchling on top of plastic six pack
Clay green hatchling on top of plastic six pack

Update 17

I was in Corbett, Oregon last week to meet with Lee and Diana Tracy, and Fritz Muntean to determine final measurements and divisions of the custom wood base for the sea turtle sculpture. In the first image samples are shown for the edge radius, tabs to hold the oil spill in place and corner braces to protect and secure the ends.  In image two you are looking at the underside of the proto-type base that will have an indented area at the bottom I call a kick plate.  Lee Tracy, standing, and Fritz Muntean are in image number three discussing options for the best over assembly of the base.  The final image is of the general overall layout of the top and sides of the sculpture base.

Samples for parts to hold oil spill glass in place
Samples for parts to hold oil spill glass in place
Under side view of sea turtle base proto-type
Under side view of sea turtle base proto-type
Fritz and Lee talking through options for base
Fritz and Lee talking through options for base
Overall layout of sea turtle base
Overall layout of sea turtle base

Update 16

Trash on the Beach, Atlantic Ocean
Trash on the Beach, Atlantic Ocean
Detail of trash on the beach
Detail of trash on the beach
It appears to be a pristine beach.............
It appears to be a pristine beach………….

When I was in Florida last month, I was on several beaches. In less then an hour, in a short span of beach, I picked up this trash. It could be any beach on any continent. There are clean beaches, but there are many abused beaches. In December 2016 I will have an exhibition at the Holter Art Museum, in Helena, Montana, in their Aquarium Gallery. This exhibit will continue my pledge to educate about threatened and endangered sea turtles and other marine life. It will include my art work and some examples of the perils that confront marine wildlife daily.

This is one of the reasons there will be plastic trash on my beautiful glass sculpture.  To tell the story to the people, to make lasting impressions so that all will pick up their litter and it will benefit man and wildlife alike.

Update 15

Working at Carol Webb's Studio on glass oil spill
Working at Carol Webb’s Studio on glass oil spill
Carol mixing Alginate for mold for glass oil sludge
Carol mixing Alginate for mold for glass oil sludge
Carol mixing gel she developed with glass frit particles
Carol mixing gel she developed with glass frit particles
Glass oil sludge out of alginate mold
Glass oil sludge out of alginate mold
Glass oil section sample in progress
Glass oil section sample in progress

Carol Webb, C3 Studios in Duluth, GA, with the help of team member, Katie Patten out of Missoula, Montana, will create the molds for each oil section prior to the team heading to The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in May 2016. I was in Carol’s studio to verify the sizes of each glass section, working within the perimeter of the size of the kiln we have to use for this at Corning. In addition we were working on converting the wax oil sludge to glass oil sludge. Carol has developed a gel like medium that mixed with powder and fine glass frit will give us the dimension and details I desire for this project. The fourth photo is the gel mixed with the glass particles removed from the alginate mold. The last photo is the beginning of a layout for a test section of oil spill. Carol is out of her studio for the next month so photos of this procedures results are on hold.

Update 14

Archie Carr National Refuge November 2015
Archie Carr National Refuge November 2015
Trash on the Beach, Atlantic Ocean
Trash on the Beach, Atlantic Ocean
Little girls shoe left on the beach
Little girls shoe left on the beach
Empty sea turtle egg Archie Carr National Refuge
Empty sea turtle egg Archie Carr National Refuge

Prior to working in Carol’s studio in Georgia, I headed to Florida for the wrap up pot luck of the Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol. Got to meet some team members that I had not yet met and made some new connections for more sea turtle information!:-). I am sending off work to a new gallery, Fusion Art Glass, in Santa Rosa Beach – a beautiful gallery, with a high energy staff, and great marketing. Thank you Cher Austin for the introduction!!! One of the main reasons to go to Florida was to go to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. The first refuge designated for the conservation of sea turtles in 1991. Twenty miles of beach intermingled with refuge and private and parks. And where approximately 14,000 loggerhead nests and 14,000 green sea turtle nests were recorded this year. AMAZING!!!! On Alligator Point we had 21 nests this year. Peak season is over but I still was up at the crack of dawn one morning hoping to find a frenzied hatch of loggerhead baby turtles heading into the surf. I did not find hatchlings but I did find a few sea turtle eggs that had once been occupied – and with sadness much debris. This is not just at Archie Carr beaches – this is all over the world. Instead of collecting sea shells – I now collect mostly plastic trash. I hope to never have to see another video with a straw being pulled out of a sea turtle nostril. I will, and I know that I will witness sea turtles that have died from ingesting plastics – but I will now collect that trash in effort to help save marine wildlife. Being at the refuge was still like standing on hallowed ground. The gift shop in the information center is ran by the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Many gifts made from re purposed materials and knowledgeable and friendly staff.

Update 13

When the team was in my studio in August we steamed wax out of the molds we were making. As a bonus the recycled wax, on the bottom side in the water – looked just like oil sludge with a bit of seaweed in the wax oil as that extra extra bonus. Before I headed to Florida and Georgia, I made two boxes full of “wax oil sludge”. I have some still in the studio, but I shipped a box to Carol Webb and she will be incorporating the waxes I made into molds to give our glass oil spill a extra 3D look.

Oil spill sludge on proto type sea turtle sculpture base
Oil spill sludge on proto type sea turtle sculpture base
Wax in alginate to replicate oil spill sludge
Wax in alginate to replicate oil spill sludge
Alginate flipped over to be filled with molten wax
Alginate flipped over to be filled with molten wax
Aliginate filled over model of wax sludge
Aliginate filled over model of wax sludge
Making an alginate mold for wax oil spill sludge
Making an alginate mold for wax oil spill sludge

Update Number 12

My dog Sparrow is now officially a turtle dog with her new collar
My dog Sparrow is now officially a turtle dog with her new collar
Drawing full scale schematic of sea turtle sculpture base
Drawing full scale schematic of sea turtle sculpture base
Detail from schematic for sea turtle sculpture base
Detail from schematic for sea turtle sculpture base

I completed a couple weeks ago a full scale drawing of the sea turtle sculpture base. This was necessary to give Lee and Fritz the specifications for the engineering and the fabrication of the wood base the whole sculpture will sit on. I also sent a copy to Carol Webb at C3 studios in Georgia, where I have just returned from. We worked on the divisions of the glass oil spill sections and started a large glass artist study of shape and colors to figure out how the sludge would be included and the draping of the oil spill over the edge of the base. Also pictured is my dog Sparrow. Now officially a turtle dog with her brand new sea turtle collar.

Update Number 11

First comes a table full of reference photos and notes. Then the sketches and drawings. Next Cathy and Michelle will do a small artist study in clay. And that will become, through a series of steps, a small version of the life size cast glass Mrs. Loggerhead. After all of that the final clay model will be made, then plaster molds that will be filled with glass at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass next May.

Reference photos for drawings of Mrs. Loggerhead
Reference photos for drawings of Mrs. Loggerhead

I have been working on the sketches of Mrs. Loggerhead for the Cycle of Life sculpture, firing the next round of sea turtle eggs, a 3D hatchling and a new tire tread, and setting up to complete a full scale drawing of the sea turtle sculpture base so I can send copies off to the gentlemen who will build the base and Carol Webb, who is building the molds for the glass oil spill. The sketches of Mrs. Loggerhead will go off to Cathy Coverley in San Diego, who is orchestrating the model and molds for this large as life 3D cast glass turtle. Michelle Kurtis Cole will be instrumental with Cathy in giving Mrs. Loggerhead life.

Options for sizing
Options for sizing
Detailed sketches from different angles
Detailed sketches from different angles
Layout on the proto type sea turtle base
Layout on the proto type sea turtle base

More on the new cast artist studies in a couple days….but a sneak peak. The pieces have to be trimmed up and I am doing tiny billets:-) to find the color combinations that will work for my seven hatchlings in the final sculpture.

A kiln load of sea turtle eggs, tire tread and a hatchling
A kiln load of sea turtle eggs, tire tread and a hatchling
Post firing
Post firing
Cast pieces ready to be trimmed up on the diamond saws
Cast pieces ready to be trimmed up on the diamond saws

And many thanks to Bobbi Dye for our new logo!!! Posted today is the graphic just on regular paper. There will be T-shirts, cards and stationary for promotional purpose for the Cycle of Life Sea Turtle Glass Sculpture – Art Educational Project! Taking a vote – do you like the cyan or the black version better? Potentially the cyan will be on a dark blue T-shirt background – but I would take input on shirt/logo color combinations too. Thanks!! Ms. Sister to All Turtles!

The Cycle of Life Logo
The Cycle of Life Logo

Practice Makes Perfect

There is a reason there needs to be practice sessions before the main event. Especially when the team leader decides she has to design modify the firing program. My sincere apologies to Michelle and Cathy for thinking and then going ahead and only holding the temperature for about 1/2 the time at the highest melting point. All the hatchlings are so tiny (I thought I would fry the glass as they are only about 1/2 lb each)…..and I do need a new more scientific scale – I measured in grams, but with the tiny amounts I did not get accurate measurements….so I left glass in the flower pots and my first attempt has hatchlings with no flippers. That makes me incredibly sad and it is my own fault!!! Also the colors are dark and so my accent colors have to be lower percent and my base colors a higher percentage. In the photo with the chip of glass billet – color Topaz -the hatchlings that look very amber, had a color called Butterscotch for an accent – way overpowered the topaz. Both the Green and the Leatherback hatchlings are black/dark gray in real life. Even at 1 1/4 thick at the deepest point….the glass hatchlings are too dark using minimal dark transparent gray. And the eggs are too white even mixed with a larger proportion of clear. I have not done any casts so small and with the flower pots. (flower pots have added another thermal point to the mix) Even after 38 years in glass there is always something new to learn and figure out!!! My apologies to the non glass people and to the glass people as well. This first round is a muddle, yet I have gleaned information. The biologist, artist and scientist in me will make improvements with the next round of molds. I must give birth to happy healthy whole glass hatchlings!

How’s about an update?

Oh how time flies when you’re having fun! I did not mean to disappear so long between steps. But August is gone and September is almost over and the time was filled with a workshop, other projects in the studio, and all the paper work that goes into a project like this so we can continue to proceed. In this firing of what I normally call artist studies – I will call these experiments in color combinations – there are four hatchling studies, two sea turtle eggs and a small study of a tire tread. I am using the flower pots as feeder cups so the glass will melt and then swirl and mix down into each mold. You see the empty molds set up. The solid glass billets of color that in the next photo are broken up as I am doing tiny forms. My color combinations are weighed and then put in the flower pots. The last photo a close up of the flower pot with a combination of billet pieces and frit over an open face hatchling mold. On Friday we will see what has “hatched”.

Teamwork in Action!

WOW!!!! The COL team was in Montana this last week!!! (Claudia was at a show but she will catch up!) The team of Coverley and Cole – Cathy Coverley and Michelle Kurtis Cole (my sub team with in the overall team:-)) flew in from the San Diego area and orchestrated great molds for me to start filling with glass from hatchlings, to sea turtle eggs and a 4 wheeler tire track. Michelle and Cathy’s knowledge is limitless when it comes to ideas and implementation of casting all parts of my sea turtle sculpture and I am very grateful to have them on my team as well as all members!!! Carol Webb out of C3 Studios, in Duluth, Georgia, is the Queen of Gadgets and Tools. She and Katie Patten out of Missoula, Montana worked on the slumping of the miniature prototype of the oil spill, acquired a 4 wheeler tire to make an actual cast for us to use and then took on the making of the flipper berms that Mrs. Loggerhead leaves as she moves away from the nest. Katie is also a marvel at procuring items needed as we went through the week and assisted in all “departments”. Katie became our official photographer and taker of videos on scene this week. Many thanks!!! Carol is one of the MacGyver’s of our team. The other is a new addition who came fly fishing….which he did a lot of….but now, along with his wife the amazing logistics coordinator of our team, Pat Arnold – we have a co directorship of logistics and project organization. Welcome Dennis McCloud!!! Dennis is another MacGyver as he reconfigured my steam system for the melting out of wax of very small molds. WE HAD GREAT DISCUSSIONS AND CONVERSATIONS AND INVALUABLE INFORMATION SHARED as we move forward to May 2016 when we will cast this project at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass. With more and more plastic debris and other junk in our oceans and on the beaches. With oil spills and other natural and man made predators, it is very timely that we collaborate now to implement this sea turtle sculpture as an educational tool to give a visual guide and help to inform all that see it about what they can do to help save sea turtles and other wildlife.

On our last day we set up parts on the sculpture base to get an over all view. The base has grown from 5'x5' to 5'x6'
On our last day we set up parts on the sculpture base to get an over all view. The base has grown from 5’x5′ to 5’x6′
Wax sea turtle eggs attached to the feeder cups. A feeder cup is a vessel of sorts, that once the wax is melted out of the plaster, glass can be put in the cup to melt down into the egg and become a solid glass sea turtle egg.
Wax sea turtle eggs attached to the feeder cups. A feeder cup is a vessel of sorts, that once the wax is melted out of the plaster, glass can be put in the cup to melt down into the egg and become a solid glass sea turtle egg.
This is Mort, the Ghost Crab, created by Cathy Coverley. He is a bit on the large size but we are going to slump glass oil over him. Mort, a baby dolphin and a Black Winged Gull will be covered with oil in this sculpture
This is Mort, the Ghost Crab, created by Cathy Coverley. He is a bit on the large size but we are going to slump glass oil over him. Mort, a baby dolphin and a Black Winged Gull will be covered with oil in this sculpture
Plaster molds ready for glass. Hatchlings, sea turtle eggs and a 4 wheeler tire track.
Plaster molds ready for glass. Hatchlings, sea turtle eggs and a 4 wheeler tire track.

Oil Spill Studies

Here are some oil spill studies that team member CAROL WEBB has made.  These are the first of many until we get the look we are going for.  Check them out!