Mountain Dew Corp. used a design firm out of NYC (Golin) to get in touch because they wanted to surprise Andrew Hawkins with his own portrait bust. We discussed 3 options for materials: traditional bronze (most expensive), cold cast bronze (resin with bronze powder), and ceramic with a bronze painting technique (least expensive). We also discussed life size or 3/4 size. They decided to go with a ceramic portrait at 3/4 size.
First, I collected as many images as I could find that had good lighting on his face from different points of view. Thankfully, being a celebrity, I was able to find many pictures of Andrew Hawkins (former NFL player) online. Here are some of the images I found…
Next, I opened a box of stoneware clay and started forming slabs into a rough shape of a human head.
Next, I started measuring and forming the details of the face using the reference photos.
Finally, I got to a point that the customer was happy with. Here are the pics at this stage…
Next, it was time to do a scary step – cut it in half in order to carve away the thick areas down to 3/4″ max thickness. If the walls are too thick, they can blow up in the kiln firing!
After hollowing out was finished, the joint surfaces were scored and slipped and pressed back together and smoothed out or re-textured. Now, it is set in a humidity controlled area to let it dry slowly and evenly for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks, the clay is a dry chalky color and very fragile! It was carefully placed into the kiln to warm at 200F for two days. This allows any remaining moisture to be released. On the 3rd day it was fired to cone 04 – a slow, 15 hour firing.
Firing clay is the most risky part of the process. Clay always moves when it is fired, so you never know if you’re going to have issues like cracks as a result. Also, if there are any trapped air bubbles in the clay, it will blow up during the firing. Thankfully, there were no issues in the face, just some minor cracks on the sides of the neck.
Small cracks like these are easy to fill with this Elmer’s wood filler…
Next, I took 80 grit sandpaper and smoothed areas that needed cleaning up. Then, I mixed black and brown acrylic paint to create a dark brown and painted the portrait bust. This step makes the clay look like a dark metal cast like iron.
Next, a metallic wax called Rub-n-Buff European Gold is brushed on the surface ever so lightly to create the metallic sheen. This is what produces the illusion of a cast bronze piece. While that was setting up, I found a nice piece of sapele wood to use as a base. I routed and clear coated the wood and then used construction adhesive caulk to secure the clay to the wood base.
Andrew co hosts a popular sports podcast called The Thomahawk Show. Mountain Dew presented the bust to him on air surprising him!
Photo provided by Golin
Watch these videos. They will show you the time lapse footage of the process in step – by – step fast motion.
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