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Monday, May 30, 2016

Faxon, bronze sculptor, explains his art during Chapel talk

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Russ Faxon
Russ Faxon, a bronze sculptor with numerous commissioned pieces that are publicly displayed, was a chapel speaker at The Webb School earlier this month. Faxon, a resident of Bell Buckle, showcased some of his sculptures in a display and a slideshow as part of the presentation.

He also explained the ages-old casting process he uses known as "Lost Wax."

"Each sculpture is originally made in clay. Once the clay figure is complete, a rubber mold is made around the clay figure to capture every detail of the work. The rubber mold is removed from the clay figure and used to recreate the original clay figure in wax.

"The wax duplicate is then 'chased,' seam lines and imperfections repaired. Wax rods or 'gaits' are attached to the wax figure and are united at a central 'spru cup.' A ceramic shell mold is made around the gated wax figure and placed in a burnout furnace of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit to melt out all the wax. Two thousand degree molten bronze is then poured into the ceramic shell mold to recreate every detail of the wax model.

"Once the bronze has cooled sufficiently, the shell mold is broken off to reveal the casting. The gaits are cut off and any defects in the casting repaired. It is then cleaned and acid patina applied to give the sculpture color. Wax is applied for protection and highlight and then mounted on an appropriate base.

"Each reproduction of a figure must be reproduced in wax from the original rubber mold that was made from the original clay figure. This makes each bronze reproduction unique in and of itself."

Faxon grew up in Bowling Green, Ky., and earned a bachelor's degree in art education from Western Kentucky University in 1973. After graduation and teaching in Nashville for two years, he traveled to Europe to study and pursue his passion for sculpture. In Italy, he learned the fine art of bronze casting at the Mariani Foundry in Pietrasanta.

In 1979, he moved to Bell Buckle and established Selah Studio. In his work, Faxon concentrates on capturing the expression, emotion and spirit of the human figure. Ranging in size from table models to large figures, Faxon's sculptures are designed for specific locations, personal interiors and public spaces in the United States and Europe.

Some of the artist's life-size bronze sculptures include Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.; Chet Atkins at Bank of America in Nashville; John Pemberton, creator of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Ga.; Uncle Herschel and Stella at Cracker Barrel Corp. in Lebanon, Tenn.; Gov. Ned McWherter in Dresden, Tenn.; Johnson Memorial Plaza at Nashville's Belmont University; Bedford County Veterans Memorial in Shelbyville, Tenn.; and the Korean War Memorial for the State of Tennessee at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

Faxon has had 26 public commissions to date and has exhibited his work throughout the United States and internationally. He received the Elliot Gantz & Co. Foundry Prize at the National Sculpture Society 75th Annual Exhibition in 2008 and was inducted into WKU's Hall of Distinguished Alumni in October 2012.

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