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Iron Backbone was finished and the photoshoot was in the can. Just when I thought “everything is just as it should be,” I walked into the studio, and lo and behold Raleigh Joe Hamilton, the third rail worker was collapsing! He literally was in the process of breaking in half in the middle. What the hell had happened??? I couldn’t wrap my head around it, this has never happened to me before! All kinds of mishaps happen throughout the creative process. Like the time when the male figures of Selfless Valor slid off the table and onto the floor. Miraculously, they survived as my sister-in-law Marla and I stood there in disbelief. That definitely called for a glass of red wine. Another time, when sculpting Herr Drosselmeyer (The Gift), he too fell off the sculpture stand. When I picked him up he actually was in a better position than before. But breaking in half, right there on the track… Now what?

The lyrics to Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” began to rattle around in my addled brain. “And is it over now, do you know how, to pick of the pieces and go on?” First thing to do was to remove him off the track and try and figure out what went wrong. I had to set him down and walk away for a few days – while simultaneously petitioning for divine intervention. I let the dust settle and began analyzing the problem. I initially thought that maybe the studio got too hot and the clay had become too soft. I quickly dismissed that theory as my other two guys: Erskine MacBride and Hank Crawford were unaffected by the temperature – they were just fine. My next thought concerned the type of clay that I had used. I hypothesized that if I were to pack harder/stiffer clay in the crack, which by now had become a cavern, that that could be a possible solution to the problem. That too proved to not be the answer. No matter how much clay I packed in the cavern, the steel rod which is part of the armature continued to wobble – much like a flag on a windy day. This was definitely a bad sign. To digress here, an armature is a framework that braces and supports a sculpture. As I continued my analysis, I began to suspect that maybe the armature had broken. As poor Raleigh just laid there, I got a knife and began exploratory surgery… I don’t think he felt a thing! Yes, it was true, the aluminum wire within his torso and literally snapped in half. It was at this point that I realized that I had no choice but to start over. I know it sounds like a tragedy, but in reality, it is not.

Over the years I have gotten really good at starting over. My natural predisposition is to look for the positive in a negative or adverse situation. Here is what is good that came out of this apparent disaster. First, it gave me a great idea for the topic discussed in this blog post. Second, I was able to salvage Raleigh’s head which will be reattached to his new body. If he had fully collapsed, his face would have been smashed to smithereens and unrecognizable and unusable. Third, most importantly it forced me to create a stronger body for Raleigh. His collapse in the studio instead of on the way to the foundry was a blessing in disguise. I am sure as I recall the journey of recreating his body I will find more things to be grateful for. You find what you look for!