Having built one 4 x 4 relief, we started the second by fabricating an identical frame. As promised, I rewarded my three assistants by fabricating three smaller frames for their own reliefs.
As the first relief was built during summer break, the beasties got to see the artistic process from the very beginning stages of design and pencil drawings, all the way through the various stages of fabrication, right up to delivery and installation of the completed work. They were integral in solving design issues, critiquing work in progress, and supplying much-needed pairs of steady hands.
I talked out loud for weeks, walking them through my thought process. Even while I was standing still and just staring at the material I tried to verbalize the various issues I was contemplating, asking questions: 'If we don't put the backing board into the frame before we weld the tabs in place on the back, then we're never going to be able to get the board into the frame - it doesn't bend, right? But if we put the wood in first and try to weld, we're going to char the board - and we have to paint the background on it, right? So how do we get the board in place and protect it from the flame and heat while we weld the securing tabs in place?"
Then I encouraged them to solve the problems, and asked further questions until they came up with a workable solution.
All three were very interested in designing their own reliefs drawing dozens of proposals, working on mockups with bits of steel and wood . And of course, they enjoyed painting and working on their stone carvings. As the oldest, Kelly had the best focus, able to shift her attention from her own design work back to the Seascape design over and over again during the course of a day. I think some days she was painting a canvas, pausing to help me, then drawing a bit, then assisting the little ones, then back to painting her canvas again - all at the same time.
During the busiest days, all three would stop their own projects to help me and we worked as a real team. Very precious days . . .
The second piece for my friend who opened a wine bar this summer is nearly complete, so I thought I'd give you a visual tour of the steps we've gone through to complete this piece of art.
Three of the four pieces needed to create the steel frame sit on the work bench. The edges will be finished with the grinding wheel so that I have four identical pieces, each with 45 degree angle cuts on both ends.
The nicest thing in the world: my three beasties are getting older, so grown up, so full of purpose and ideas and things to say, say Loudly, proclaim to the world and each other - jostling, pushing, tumbling over one another to have their voices heard - and even still, the first thing they do when they come in the front door every afternoon is call my name out, locate my whereabouts, and come give me a long hug.
Philip Williams is the author of The Griffin. He is also a sculptor, a painter, and the father of three amazing beasties.
Enjoy simple pleasures. Push the envelope. Love what you do. Take nothing for granted.
Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself, 'How did I get through all of that?'