Many steps and many materials are involved in making this cast edition Wolf panel by Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza. The first is to create a rubber mold from the original red cedar carving. The next step is to apply a layer of composite that contains metal shavings, which is then backed up with a polymer resin, gypsum and fiberglass composite. Our caster, Jack, uses his own recipe with raw components sourced from several different locations to make the materials used for these editions. He has been working with the gallery for many years and it is always interesting to see how he uses this material to bring out the best elements of the original carved panel.
After the layers have been poured Jack has to rotate and move the piece around for an hour and a half to ensure the piece is flush and there is an even coating. Once it has set and dried the piece is removed and then hand scaled to remove the oxidized/rough surface. At the first metal layer he adds either copper, bronze or a mix of white metals. He uses a chemical reaction to create different patinas. If the metal layer contains copper he is able to achieve a wide variety of blue, brown and green. Bronze allows for a rich shades of brown, and the white metals are how he creates a pewter patina. The piece is then finished with either a special metal lacquer or it is waxed.
This material has been used in the Northwest Coast art world since the 1980s. It was originally an industrial material but was adopted by Northwest Coast artists as it allowed for large scale casts in both sculptural and two dimensional formats. Over the years the techniques have improved and the patinas have become more sophisticated. To see other forton pieces in the gallery, click here.
"People respect the wolf for its strength, agility, intelligence and capacity for devotion…Wolf is sometimes an agent of transformation, and is a popular figure in crest, story and shamanic art…Wolf serves as an inspiration and a charm for hunters and fishers, and skilled hunters often have Wolf spirit guides." (Shearar 2000:115). – Understanding Northwest Coast Art: A Guide to Crests, Beings and Symbols