Each sculpture displayed in this gallery is an original work of art. From design concept to completion, Tracy Maisel is 100% hands on in the creation of her work. Using photographs of wildlife, graphics of fantasy and images born from her imagination, Tracy combines her architectural background, her love of fantasy and her years spent as a photo-realistic painter to construct her dragons, birds of prey and furniture.
Starting with new, clean sheets of copper, bronze rod and occasionally brass or nickel-silver, each pattern is designed specifically for one sculpture. Using all natural materials for bases, such as manzanita wood, amethyst or other semi-precious stones gives each piece an organic place from which to grow. Often, the shape of the base dictates the posture of the sculpture. You can find herons fishing from amethyst ponds, castles sprouting from craggy rocks, flying ships suspended from glass balloons…whatever your imagination desires. The uniqueness of each base itself creates new and interesting challenges in the design process.
Once the base has been chosen, body patterns are cut from sheets of copper, cut and welded into place to form a three dimensional framework. Once the heads, wings, tails, and other necessary parts are added on, time is spent cutting each and every feather, scale or flower petal, by hand, using tins snips and aviation shears. Comparing closely between eagles, seagulls, peacocks, etc., one might even notice how different the feather shapes are on different birds. Every detail is attended to, down to the configuration of the claws and the scaling on the legs. Again, the handmade nature of each individual piece guarantees that your sculpture will be unique.
Heads, hands, feet, beaks and details are puddle welded, or “free-flowed” from bronze rod, using an oxygen acetylene torch. Rods are heated to near liquid, pushed and pulled by hand to stretch or bubble shapes into form. This ensures the originality of each and every piece; no two will ever be alike.
Once the piece is shaped around its base, the same oxy-acetylene torch is used to attach the feathers, scales, etc. One at a time, each is added and layered to the framework, creating texture and adding that realistic touch to the sculpture. Colors are added, mostly through heating techniques with the torch, though sometimes a variety of patinas and acids can be used to render greens, blues, blacks and more. A hard lacquer finish is applied, once all of the fire scale is removed and color added, to give the sculpture a high shine and to protect it from the environment. Occasionally, waxes may be used in some locations where weather conditions warrant extra protection from the elements.
The final touch to these pieces comes with the addition of semi-precious stones for the eyes. Using a variety of cabechons such as tiger eye, obsidian, carnelian, malachite, paua shell or turquoise breathes life into the finished sculpture. Sometimes additional stones maybe added in claws or hands to further enhance the work.