It took Elden Tefft four tries to make his sculpture "The Fourth" work. Hence the name.
He first cast a tiny model of the work in metal, he said. Then he went to ceramics, but ceramics couldn't handle the size of his design. So Tefft, Kansas University professor of art, finally got it cast in bronze, and about 50 artists are in Lawrence this weekend helping Tefft make a mold of the sculpture, a figure of a person that Tefft has been working on since the '50s.
The artists are participating in the first Mold Making Workshop at KU, sponsored by the Kansas Sculptors Assn., the KU Sculpture Research Center, Cast-Tech Co. of Olathe and Smooth-Onc Inc. The workshop started Friday and will end about noon Sunday. Sculptors and craftsmen from all over the Midwest came to KU to learn from each other.
SOME CAME to the noisy foundry in KU's Art and Design Building to work on their own sculptures, and others joined Tefft in the next room to mold "The Fourth."
They also sought the expertise of mold master Bill Olin of the KU Sculpture Center. He has been working at the center on a volunteer basis for 13 years and helped organize this year's workshop.
"We're just trying to show them how to work with these materials," Olin said.
Ron Bernhardy, a Blue Springs, Mo., dollmaker, said he came to the workshop to learn more about molding. He was working on a doll's leg Friday afternoon.
"I went to Cast-Tech and bought some materials, and I just wanted to learn how to use them," Bernhardy said. "I'm fairly new at dollmaking. You have to have a mold for it."
PARTICIPANTS worked with materials donated by Cast-Tech, a company that manufactures urethane rubber, silicone rubber, mold releases and clays.
Bill Farmer, a sculptor from Omaha, Neb., spent his time Friday afternoon working on a piece called the "Three Levels of Being," a sculpture he was commissioned to do.
Farmer took his sculpting interests to Nicaragua recently, where he helped build a foundry in Managua. He returned to the United States on Dec. 7, he said.
"Before I went down there, they said that they had propane and butane fuels available," Farmer said. "But when I got there, they didn't have any of that, and we had to use diesel fuels. I didn't know anything about diesel."
But Farmer left Nicaragua with one more foundry than it had before his visit.
JENNIFER WALKER, a graduate of the Art Institute of Kansas City, didn't finish her own sculpture in time to bring it to the workshop Friday. So she joined the others on "The Fourth."
"It's nice to know that there's a facility for this," Walker said. "It's a marvelous opportunity. I'm learning a lot watching other people."
She said Friday that she planned to bring her own work to Lawrence today to take advantage of the resources available at the workshop.
"Not having my own sculpture has freed me up to see the projects that other people are doing," Walker said. "There is a lot of opportunity to learn this weekend."