After a ten year layoff, I’m back in the studio making the sawdust. What you see here is the beginning of life-sized Babe Ruth in-action statue, hand carved out of solid wood–a one of a kind. The feet are, like always, solid black Walnut, and the body is mostly 3-inch pine. I had started this statue in 1997 or so and have had the wood laying around all this time. Since it’s a shame to waste it, I figure I just might be able to get this thing done before 99 arrives in July. We’re going to give it the old college try in any event. It’s tough though, to come home from work and then go and get dirty and work a few hours but every once in a while you get that little payoff of looking at the thing at the end of a night and thinking, “I actually did that?”
Most folks don’t believe me but doing this kind of work is more about patience and sticktoitiveness than any amount of artisticness or skill. The piece goes so slow that you have plenty of time to look at photos and measure and just go slow. You do the easy parts first, and thus the hard parts all eventually, become easy parts. You just can’t be stubborn. The piece tells you where you need to work. You just have to listen to it.
It’s amazing to do this again after a ten year break. Your memory plays lots of tricks on you. I found that I do miss it and forgot what fun some of it is. It is also far easier with some newer tools as I just didn’t have the money years ago for certain things (like a cheap bandsaw) (I also love the smell of walnut and pine wood!) . I am constantly amazed at how I used to do things and now how I solve the same problem. I laugh because I got a whoooole lot smarter in ten years! haha. Still, some of the old tricks work fine.
I am doing another Babe Ruth (many recall Babe was my first) because quite frankly, he is the statue that made the biggest splash and he is a fascinating character. I don’t think people really understand just what this guy was to Americans. The ultimate rags to riches story. He embodies what America is all about. You don’t need connections. You can be relegated to an orphanage and yet, if you can excel on the diamond, you can be an idol to millions.
The pose I’m doing is actually turning out to be a more tricky one than I thought at first, but recall I started the statue in 1997, having done both feet then. It will depict Ruth all coiled up after whaloping one good. I’d say “in action” but it’s more like, “just after action”; a split-second. I’ll post the progress shots and everyone can see how it is coming along.
I am scheduled to give a talk at the Westchester Meadows Nursing Home around March 1st, to coincide with the start of Spring training. My Mickey Mantle statue will be on display at the Home for a few weeks and we’ll kick it off with a talk about how I got started and techniques I use and some anecdotes about lugging these big statues around to shows and to Yankee Stadium and what not. Below is a shot of my last statue, completed in 1997. Joe DiMaggio. It was sold in a Leland’s auction and resides in Seattle:
This is solid wood (as they all are) and is hand painted in acrylics to look as life-like as possible. I chickened out on the pin striping and did the road uniform. Actually, the master photo that I worked from was a road game, so I’ll hang my hat on that. –fog