The second project in our case studies began as an unusual request for an enormous granite teddy bear. Our client was the head of a large Dallas-based development company, an avid art collector, and traveler for whom we had done one other project in the previous year. (A massive group of standing stone monoliths on his family "farm" in East Texas.)
In this case our clients' project manager handled all of the details and arrangements for the entire project aside from the sculptural aspects. This was a rather large public art project that involved the client, town council, mayor and Park Advisory Board, and residents of the community, as well as landscape architect, general contractor, and an engineering firm. Our client was donating the sculptures, and matching funds for the site amenities to build a small park surrounding the bears, to the community.
Work began on the site well before the sculpture arrived with the creation of a winding stream with a small waterfall and arched stone foot bridges. One hundred and ninety-three different varieties of azaleas, and an array of fragrant plantings and landscape lighting made this small park an award-winning construction project.
Our task was to create the focal point. Scale was important. The largest of the group of bears was ten feet tall and weighed nearly twenty tons, but next to a next large body of water and trees, its scale was perfect. This bear needed to maintain a fluffy, friendly, toy-like softness or its size would frighten the children it was meant to please, and it presented an interesting sculptural challenge. Also critical to the overall "feel" of the sculptures was texture. Rough enough to simulate a stuffed toy, but smooth enough to climb on. The features - eyes, nose, and footpads - were all polished for contrast and to reveal the true color of each of the different granites.
Siting the foundations for each sculpture was also a challenge as the available land was a relatively small strip between an embankment and the lake. As the site-work was evolving, the blocks for the sculptures were quarried and shipped to different sawyers for dimensioning. The largest block, for the ten-foot bear, was quarried as a single fifty ton block that was sectioned into three manageable pieces; one for the head, and one for each half of the body. A sawyer with a fourteen-foot diameter diamond saw was required to make a clean slice for the matching body halves, so the joint line between them fit perfectly without a gap.
On to Part 2 »