Placing Titania on the Fountain

Monday, April 6, 2009, 1:15-1:30 pm
Weather: Cloudy, 34 degrees, wind in the SE 8-10 mph, misty mixed rain & snow.

Hello! We finally did it!

After a blissfully warm and sunny weekend we set to work on Monday
to place the final pieces on the “Midsummer Play” fountain. It was
cold, windy and spitting rain but we were lucky, because the next day
we had a nice little snow.

Many, many hours of planning went into making sure that the 9.5′
bronze figure of Titania would be ready to come to her safe resting
place atop a sculpted tree in a fountain at the entrance to Stonewall
Square across from Abingdon’s historic Barter Theatre. Our Queen of
Faerie weighed in at over 800 lbs. of bronze and stainless steel
structural supports, so we asked the City of Abingdon (thank you again
John Dew!) to supply us with a crane to lift her into place.

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But before that, way back in September of last year, we started
welding what would eventually be 108 pieces of bronze together to form
her Royal Highness. There was one slight problem: the molds for these
pieces were inadequate and almost each and every piece, instead of
fitting perfectly into place with the next, like a well-made jig saw
puzzle, had to be “re-cut and pasted” instead.

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I can only describe the process like you were trying to put together
a 3-D puzzle, in which all the pieces had been soaked in water and were
now completely warped. To get them to fit together you’d just have to
bend them back into their original shape, right? Only bronze is SO much
harder to manipulate than a piece of cardboard will ever be.

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So, the work of 2-3 months became six and we only managed to put her
back together again with the help of the extraordinary Anthony Dean,
welder par excellance. More hours than I really want to think
about went into the enormous amount of cutting, welding, filling,
bending and grinding of each and every piece of the bronze that forms
the exterior of Titania.

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Eventually though, all the parts were in place, the gaping holes filled and the rough welds ground down.

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Karen Lewis puts the finishing touches on one of Queen Titania’s three Fairy Attendants.

And below, Anthony welds the dancing fairy onto the tree base.

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And David works his magic…

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Then she was ready to take a ride down the hill from the Foundry for
her final placement in Town. None of us got much sleep the night before
thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong.

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The wind it did blow and the rain it did come down, but in the end
everything went as smooth as it possibly could; a tribute to all those
hours of engineering that David and Anthony spent on the piece.

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Here we are, co-sculptor David Spence and I, as well as Betsy Boyd,
one of our major sponsors and Rick Rose, the Artistic Director of the
Barter Theater who asked us to do this whole crazy project in the first
place .

And then a final offering to The Queen for making the day go so easily.

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I did say it snowed the next day, didn’t I?

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I’ll post a few close ups of all the various pieces in the next several days…

In the meantime, enjoy!

Charles

4 Responses to “Placing Titania on the Fountain”

  1. Kristina says:

    Holy cow Charles! You guys finally did it! Wow- this looks so amazing. Ånd just think that now this giant homage to your vision will sit in Abingdon for generations. You should (all) be so proud of yourselves. I cannot wait to see this fountain in person.

    Oh, and just for extra measure: YAAAAAAAYYYYY!

  2. hollybird says:

    She’s absolutely wonderful!! Congratulations to you and everyone who worked so hard for so long. Glad it all went well and everyone can take a deep breath after the installation. Abingdon is going to be on a future road-trip detour just to see this!

  3. Jamie says:

    Wow. There’s a tear in my eye. That is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I’m originally from the Abingdon area and now live in New York State, so I really, really am jealous of all those Abingdon residents. Maybe when I go back to see the family, I can come visit your gorgeous fountain. Congratulations on your achievement!

    Thank you for all the beauty you give to the world!

  4. ed gagnon says:

    i want to take vacation from work just to make a special trip to see this up close. i visited the site last year on a smart phone during all the problem times but now i have a real computer the photos are magnificent! you can only imagine how good this looks in real life & still keeps true to the artwork.thank you mr. vess!