Blue Heron: State Bird of California

Los Angeles, CA  – I chose the California State bird as my first flying sculpture. There are many wild blue heron near our home that fly around the Sepulveda Dam. If you’re quiet and pedal or walk down around the man-made lakes there (especially early in the morning), you’ll see quite a few of the blue heron among many other species native to the Western states.

GOALS – My initial plan is to sculpt one bird, then cast a mold and duplicate the bird a few times to finish out this piece. I’ll keep posting my progress.

CLICK ON EACH PHOTO ABOVE TO READ ALONG AND DISCOVER DETAILS ABOUT THE PROCESS AND THINKING BEHIND THE ‘BLUE HERON’ SCULPTURE!

The “Photo Journal” will remain just below, and I’ll add NOTES during the sculpting process. Scroll down to read these.

1 Original wire frame

1 Original wire frame

Original wire frame - INTRICATE WIRE SKELETON – The first photo above is the most intricate, wire frame structure I’ve ever done. It’s a third the scale of a young heron based on heron skeletons I found online. I actually created a number of temporary tools to help thread and wrap the sculpting wire so the dimensions of each feather was correct.

2 Making feathers

2 Making feathers

Making feathers - I've slid some foam rectangles in between layers of clay so that each feather was 'roughly' the same shape and size. It was easy to mass-produce these 'feathers' with a few scrapes of a Spackle knife (one of my favorite sculpting tools)!

3 From rectangles to feathers

3 From rectangles to feathers

From rectangles to feathers - each square shape was attached to the individual wires to easily shape and re-position the movement

4 Details of Right Wing

4 Details of Right Wing

Details of Right Wing - the process of moving from square shapes to feathers might not be the quickest way to build the bird's wing, but I found it the most pleasing ... and I know this process will help me later on.

5 Heron will 'float' above water when finished

5 Heron will 'float' above water when finished

Floating - When considering HOW this work would be supported on its own, some swirls of the sculpting wire gave me the idea to have the left wing attached to what would end up being simulated 'ripples in the water.'

6 Added more details to both wings and head

6 Added more details to both wings and head

Details - This photos shows a little more work being done. Since I've snapped this shot, I've realized the proportions for the head are closer to Pterodactyl, so I'll begin to tear down and redo the head, body and legs. I'm happy with how the wings are coming along though!

MUSIC – I feel it’s important to make note of the soundtrack that help this sculpture come alive. The iPod is loaded with full albums. A conscious decision, I’ve abandoned the shuffling of individual songs, so the work these bands put into their whole album can work their way into the creative flow. Along with the “blue can” RockStar energy drink, influence include: PINK FLOYD’s “Dark Side of the Moon,”TOM WAITS’ “Beautiful Maladies,”THE POLICE “Greatest Hits,”KRIS KRISTOFFERSON “Greatest Hits,”THE WHO “Who’s Next,”RAVI SHANKAR “Chants of India,”SNATAM KAUR “Grace,” … and more to come.

PICTURE ADDED – Decided to use a spiral-shaped post to secure the top wings to the base. The photo shows the positioning only. I’ll have to locate a strong but thinly-shaped metal that is either already blue or something I can paint.

NOTES ON the WORK IN PROGRESS – Changed up music to the online RHAPSODY radio. My preference is to jump around many ‘stations.’ I’ve found the “MC5 ~ Kick out the Jams” is a great collection of tunes that includes the SONICS, NEW YORK DOLLS, etc. By the way, if you never saw this before: my son got to play with Wayne Kramer from the MC5 at a fundraiser once (check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFT_RJJDYHM&list=PL62D2C6E588D03EDF&index=8 ).