A Visit to Polich-Tallix Foundry

Last week, I traveled to Polich Tallix Foundry in Rock Tavern, New York. I visited there for a progress update on the casting of my sculpture Lament, which will be placed at the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C. this fall.

The wood model  Lament,  seen here outside my studio before the casting process at Polich Tallix Foundry.

The wood model Lament, seen here outside my studio before the casting process at Polich Tallix Foundry.

About the Foundry

Polich Tallix is THE foundry for sculpture and one of the best-regarded in the art world. It was founded in the late 1960s by Dick Polich, the owner and master craftsman.

The list of artists and projects Mr. Polich has worked on and sculptures he has fabricated and cast over the years is impressive. Some of the most significant sculptors of the late 20th and early 21st centuries have come through this foundry, including: Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Joel Shapiro, Isamu Noguchi, and Frank Stella among others. I was also pleased to notice the work of a friend and colleague of mine, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, whose work littered a large area of the working space.

Mr. Polich and one of his staffers, the delightfully green-haired Ms. Stephanie Minor, gave my publicist and me the full tour of the foundry and showed us the various stages of the "lost-wax casting process", a lengthy and labor intensive procedure that is being used to create the bronze cast of Lament.


The Casting Process

We first viewed the area where the rubber molds are created and carefully adhered to the surface of my wood trunks. After the pink "bubble gum"is applied to the trunk, and dried, the material is peeled off the wood, revealing a mold of the wood model.

Next, a special wax is then poured into the molds, creating an exact replica of the wood model. Because of the size of Lament, the craftsmen had to divide each trunk into 3-4 wax sections. This is the stage that Lament is in now.

Finally, the wax sections of the mold are then given a hard sand-like stucco outer shell, into which bronze will eventually be poured to complete the cast.

With the process of casting the work well under way, the final step will be to apply patina to the bronze. It is my role to choose from a variety of colors that could coat the work.

1. One of my trunks in the mold stage of the casting process.

2. Here are the wax sections of one of the trunks of Lament.

3. Here I stand with Mr. Polich, sampling and selecting different types of patina, an important step in the process of casting a work.

Installation at the Kreeger Museum

The goal is to have the bronze cast shipped back to Washington, D.C. the week of October 12, 2015. Once here, it will be installed at the Kreeger Museum near American University.

The installation poses various challenges, including making sure that the space and the sculpture are placed in a way that is complementary to one another. Also important will be testing out how the sunlight affects the work at different times during the day.