Gold Star Mothers Family Mounument

Making a Statue

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Creating the Gold Star Mother Statue

This slide show illustrates the general process of creating a bronze statue. The particular statue shown here, created by Andrew Chernak, was installed in Veterans Park in Kent, New York on July 2, 2006. A similar, but larger, statue and memorial is proposed for Washington DC.

Posing the Model

The mother is in a 1940’s period dress. The time of greatest American war casualties. The statue imparts a sense of grief and pain. The flower stand has a picture of her son. In her hand, the dreaded Western Union telegram. A small flower pot, on its side, symbolizes her world devastated.

Sculpting the Maquette

Bronze statues start small. A scale model is created, reworked where necessary, and revised as the sculptor becomes more firm in his vision. Imagine the work involved if a full size model was created only to be changed and redesigned many times over.

Building the Enlargement

This is a technical phase using lasers and computers to enlarge the model to life size while keeping every proportion and angle exact, as the sculptor intended. In the past a mechanical method was used. This process saves months of work "re inventing the wheel" and therefore saves much cost.

Working the Clay

The enlargement is assembled but is almost devoid of any detail. The sculptor applies slices of clay over the enlargement and starts to roughly form the statue.

Working the Clay

After the clay has been applied it is worked and refined to the image in mind. At this point fine details such as hair, dress patterns, wrinkles, jewelry, are painstakingly added. The creation of the clay model takes about 5 months.

Molding in Latex and Plaster

The finished clay is now at the foundry. The mold maker cuts off arms and table parts for separate mold work. A separation line is established and latex rubber is applied to the clay. After the latex cures layers of plaster are applied one upon the other, re-enforced with steel rod, and is allowed to cure for a week.

Unmolding

The mold is then cut, trimmed, and opened as a two piece, front and back mold. The clay that took 5 months to create is then removed and thrown away, having served its purpose.

Detailing the Wax

The mold has hot wax painted in the cavity. The edges of the wax are trimmed flush to the edges. The mold is assembled and hot wax is poured into the seams of the two halves together. The end result is a hollow wax copy of the statue in pieces. The wax copy is "touched up" and super detailed.

Wax into Shell

The wax parts are now put into their own molds. Connecting rods of wax are attached as well as a solid wax funnel. These will become the entry ways for the molten bronze. The wax is dipped into a porcelain slurry and then sand is blown onto the wet surface. This is repeated many times with drying time in between sand applications until the mold is of proper thickness.

Wax Burnout

The dry porcelain molds are placed in a super heated furnace to allow the wax to melt completely out of the molds.

Molds to Sandpit

The hot molds are placed in the sand pit and packed around their circumference with sand to prevent the mold from moving. Tin plates cover the molds to prevent any sand or foreign objects from entering the mold until the master caster is ready to pour.

Pouring Pot is Heated

The pouring pot is pre heated before filling it with Bronze. This prevents the bronze from loosing temperature when transferred to this pot.

Induction Pot is Skimmed of Impurities

The raw bronze ingots are placed into this induction pot. Induction quickly brings the bronze to a molten state and a 2000 degree casting temperature. Impurities, dust, and dirt are skimmed off the top of the molten metal.

Molten Bronze is Poured into Pouring Pot

The pour pot is filled with molten bronze and hooked up to a winch. The pour pot is then set to be several feet off the floor. The pot is moved into position over the sand pit with the waiting molds.

The Pour

The master caster and his assistant use control wheels and handles to maneuver the spout over the mold. A second assistant removes the cover of the mold to be poured. The pour is made in order of size or intricacy depending on the velocity of the metal leaving the pot. Many years of experience are required to be a master caster.

Shell Removal

Seen here is the picture frame being released from the shell mold and what it looks like after the finishing process. All of the cast parts are freed from their shell molds with hammers, chisels, and air hammers.

Chasing and Prepping the Parts

All parts are prepped for welding by cleaning and grinding the surfaces to be welded.

Welding and Chasing the Parts

The statue is assembled by welding torch. Where two pieces have been joined together, fine grinding and file work must be done to restore the original artwork along the seam.

Sandblasting

When the statue has been completely assembled, it is sandblasted to remove all grinding marks and welding burns. The statue has a clean raw surface ready for the final process.

Applying the Base Patina

The statue is heated in small areas to open the pores of the bronze while a chemical solution is applied to stain the bronze. Additional coats of chemicals give the statue its rich traditional color while other chemicals can add hints of color to bring out the fine details.

Waxing the Statue

Again the statue is heated to take a penetrating coat of wax for protection from the elements.

Applying and Buffing the Wax Coating

The base coat of wax as well as additional coats of wax are applied and buffed. This is what gives a statue the rich look and luster of the finished product.

Installing the Statue

All bronze statues are hollow. Though hollow, it still weights over 400 pounds and must be lifted in place with a small crane. Stainless steel pins bolted to the base will line up with holes drilled to the base. Epoxy anchor cement will keep the statue in place.

The Finished Statue

After more than a year of work, the finished sculpture is in place, ready for unveiling.

For Them

The tears of just moments ago when the statue was erected are now smiles of appreciation from the mothers of our nations greatest HEROES.

A Gold Star Service Flag

Each Gold Star Mother displays this service flag in her window, its gold star now covering the blue star which she displayed while her son or daughter still served. Remember what it means when you see one.