Reflection,(self portrait)

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Reflection,(self portrait)

I have here a brief explanation of the method of fabrication since it is not necessarily self evident,and is an interesting process I hope to put on video one day to share with other metal sculptors.
First off I start with thin SHELL MOLDS. I use the same material a doctor would wrap a broken arm with. It's called SPECIALIST WRAP and is a gauze impregnated with plaster that is activated by hot water. I lubricate the model's skin with a high viscosity sun tan oil (Bain de Soleil works well),so that the mold will not stick to their skin,(hair removal is essential as well). In this case I was the subject and I taught my models how to take the molds...
MY whole body was taken in this case by 4 sections each about 45 minute poses. The thin and fragile molds are set aside for 24 hours to harden in preparation for the next step.
I then build boxes that roughly contain the shape of each mold . This is to contain liquid plaster that will be poured beneath the mold as it's inner side is facing up. In this way I can build up a thick layer of plaster that adheres to the OUTSIDE of each mold surface,strengthening it and allowing it to remain intact and accommodate the heat of welding and the weight of the steel parts as they are added.When this restructuring of the molds is accomplished I can then start to fabricate the figure within it,hand forming each metal bit with a ball pein hammer on the anvil until the bit fits PERFECTLY against the inside of the mold. Only when the scrap punch part fits just right is it welded to it's neighbor,and thus the form is built up meticulously and slowly bit by bit. The four molds that make up the body are thus fabricated in this way and in the final phase are welded to each other ON THE OUTSIDE of the figure.But all this diligent concentration and sustained effort has it's reward in that the end result is AN EXACT copy of the person's body,not smaller and not larger,but precisely the form one started with...
It is interesting to note ,that I had the figure headless for a year,feeling it just wasn't quite complete,when I thought of the contrivance involving NEGATIVE SPACE with the head.
I frenetically got out a mirror set it up and did a face mold of myself. With this face mold and the process stated above ,I was able to complete the figure with my own peculiar profile. When I welded it on the body and set it up in the studio for the final critique and saw the exact likeness of myself in steel I went into some strange resonant altered state of consciousness. It is such a peculiar feeling to see yourself PROJECTED OUTWARD manifested on the physical plane SEPARATE but EQUAL...Words are insufficient to describe the experience...but even as strange as it was,it was also most INTERESTING and totally engaging. This effect ,at least for me, is one of the hidden benefits of making metal sculpture both figurative and abstract,it seems to marshal all my forces,life experience,awkward sympathies,addiction to beauty ,and like some psychic MENTAL FLOSS,allow me to process and integrate the salient features of my life...

Eamonn Higgins's picture

quality work sir, nice to

quality work sir, nice to see top artist sharing their talent

Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

Quality Work

Stephen Fitz-Gerald

Kudos back at ya Eamonn.
Your fisherman's face taps into something archetypal and primordial. Have to respect anyone working with the figure LIFESIZE.
I often fantasize that I'm continuing a legacy of metal art exonerated by my Celtic Tribal roots,but I see this even more clearly in your work...

SteelyJan's picture


Hi Stephen,

That is an amazing piece.....the process sounds complex, but the result is awesome, one of my favorite pieces.
I love using small repetitive scraps of metal , this would be the ultimate of that technique....again , thanks for sharing...Steelyjan

Jamie Santellano's picture

You did an exceptional piece

You did an exceptional piece of work here my friend...exquisite!...beautifully put together. I admire your patience and persistence in the creation.


Jamie Santellano

Jeremy maronpot's picture


That piece is astonishing. The process is brilliant. When I see something I like this much I can't help feeling a little jealous I didn't think of it. Kudos to you sir! Thanks for the insights on your reaction to the piece as well. That is almost as interesting as the artwork itself.

Jeremy Maronpot

Patryk Nieczarowski's picture

You make amazing stuff

You make amazing stuff Stephen ...very oryginal :^)
Expresion & Beauty created from very simple pieces ...My favorit one is "Crucify" made by You - Pain in steel ...I like it ...absolutly :^)