I have been sculpting for thirty years, and am now embarking on what I refer to as my magnum opus.
Some readers may have heard me mention this sculpture over the last two years. The project is a larger than life size Mad Hatter Tea Party in bronze. Families can come to visit the sculpture and bring their lunch and join in the tea party. I’ll post more on the location of the park in another post.
I work both digitally, sculpting in the computer and traditionally sculpting in clay. Many times I use both. I just completed a book on these techniques titled 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling. Focal Press 2015. This project uses all of these techniques and more.
I started with a quick digital design. Over the last two years, the digital design has morphed into several different sizes and versions. The design will morph quite a bit more from the digital design, as I take each character and make them my own and sculpt them in clay.
The Scope of the Project
The characters are larger than life measuring approximately 8 feet tall. I revert to the original John Tenniel illustrations for my inspiration. However, the Hatter scene I am creating is really contrary to the original illustration of the Tea Party. In Tenniel’s illustrations, all of the characters are at one end. In my sculpture, Alice, the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse are spaced out. In fact, each character interacts with a guest that is not yet present at the tea party. The scene needs interaction from visitors to be complete. The sculpture lures individuals to bring a meal and share at the table. The table seats between 6-8 guests. The sculpture titled “Move One Place On” entices visitors to change places in the middle of their visit, just as the characters did in the story.
A Treasure Hunt
There is much more to this scene than meets the eye. Along with the tea party, there is a dedication plaque in the shape of an oversized storybook set upon an old tree trunk. There are small tree stump steps for children to climb to see the words. Sitting on a leaf of this storybook is a mouse that reads the dedication. Moving to the top of the storybook, you will see the feet of a small rabbit jumping into a hole. Move around the tree trunk, and you will not only see a rabbit in the cutaway section of the tree, but you will see a tiny Alice falling down the hole. And so… the treasure hunt begins. Found within all of the bronze pieces in Alice’s Wonderland are many different hidden objects and even more meanings behind each of those objects. How many of these can one find on this curious journey? Well, 150, of course. I have dedicated 150 in honor of the 150th anniversary. On July 4th of this year, the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Digital sketch of the Hatter’s tea party by Bridgette Mongeon
The ScheduleBy the official anniversary date of July 4, 2015 I hope to have enough of the scene sculpted so that camera crews can come in and film. My team and I will continue the sculpting. I have awarded the bronze casting to Shidoni Foundry in New Mexico where more documentation of the process will take place. I am working diligently to hit the target date of installation scheduled for summer of 2016. It would be wonderful if that date were close to the 151st anniversary of the story.
New Book Projects
As you may know, I recently completed a book titled 3D Technology In Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting, and Milling- Publisher Focal Press. I expect this book to come out Summer 2015. It is my goal to use this sculpture, Move One Place On and create two books- for which I am presently seeking a publisher. The first book, is tentatively titled Finding Alice: An Artist’s Curious Journey of Combining Traditional and Digital Art to Create a Monumental Bronze Sculpture. In my previous book, I focused on the many different types of digital technology that I and other artists around the world use to create art. This new book focuses on one job from conception to installation and all of the steps in between. I will be sculpting using the traditional sculpting processes and using some of the digital processes I cover in my previous book. I include even more technology in this project. For example, I created Humpty Dumpty digitally and will have him 3D printed. I will then embed the 3D printed piece in the clay before it goes to the foundry and is cast in bronze. There will be many treasures created this way. The second book in this project is Finding Alice- A Field Guide This book gives clues to the 150 different elements found in the scene. It is written in Carrollian style using such things as rhyme and riddle. In the light of that, let me give your first clues in the Finding Alice Field Guide.
The tree stump begins the adventure of finding the hidden objects. A mouse sits on the leaf reading, At the top of the book is a hole in the tree stump, a rabbit is jumping in the hole. Walk around the stump and you will find Alice falling. Here visitors begin their search for the many hidden objects and meanings embedded in the bark of the tree stump, and scene of the tea party.
Searching for Lily before the game
A mother to two- they are the same.
Here she reclines-facing east
Believing this many ‘fore morning feast.
This riddle holds four of the 150 elements in the field guide. The book contains a place for an individual to fill in the blanks. I’ll give you these answers. You will have to find the other 146 answers on your own.
1. Who is this character?
The White Queen
2. What is pertinent to the creation of this hidden object?- See Finding Alice- Process book.
She is the White Queen but is also in the image of the artist’s mother.
3. Where is this physical piece located?
I guess I can’t answer this for you as I have not placed her, and how on earth I will get her to face east is going to be a challenge.
4. What is the literary reference?
(Hint—it is a number. Include the sentence written by Carroll.)
Six “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Chapter 5)
Of course, I have been writing the books as I work on the commission. However, I need to place the bronze sculpture before the book is complete. That delay means I won’t have final images of the installation for the book until July 4th 2016 and it does take a while for a book to be published. Maybe the books will be ready by July 4th, 2017? I’ll let you know after I secure a publisher.
Media and Press Page
I am delighted with this project and the work it will entail. If you are interested in publishing a story about the project, I will soon have a media page with some images. I will be adding more images to the page as we progress on the project. If the media page is not up yet, it just means that I have been terribly busy. Just fill out the contact form and I’ll zip some images and information off to you. If you know of anyone who would like to document the creation of this sculpture as a film documentary, please let me know. I think it would make a very interesting film.
I’d be delighted to share the project through speaking engagements and lectures. I’m already planning a speaking tour about art and technology and will be delighted to share this portion. Maybe I’ll even pass on a few more hints for the field guide.
There are many ways that educators can use this sculpture and the works of Lewis Carroll to encourage education in such things as history, literature, and math. Educators can also use the technology and art aspect of this project. The artist will be providing curriculmn associated with this project on this website.
If you live in the Houston, Texas area and are an artist that is available from March- September and would like to intern on this project, contact me through my contact page. Be sure to let me know your availability and give me links to your work.
I’m also looking for an assistant to help with the publicity for this project and will be interviewing individuals immediately.
I’ll share more later, but for now… I must jump in the hole with Alice.