Friday, January 13, 2012

Dancing Bears sighted in Snowmass Colorado

This wonderful project came to a close with the delivery and installation on Christmas Eve day. The nearlly three hour journey hauling a covered trailer containing the finished artpiece went like clock-work. My clients were spending the holidays in their new home and even assited with the tricky installation process. I say "tricky" because It took a minimum of five persons to move and lift this artpiece into place, and it was extremely top-heavy since the aspen trees were over 7' tall. Steel mounting brackets were attached to the wall which held the brunt of the wieght, and long screws were also used to tie the piece into the wood siding.

The finished piece looks remarkable in its permanent home, and my clients we so pleased with the final outcome. They rewarded all four of us with a delectable bottle of Cabernet from their Tin Barn Winery. Best of all, they had their long awaited art piece in place, to enjoy for the Christmas holidays, and for many years to come!

Home at last

Posing with my happy clients

Installation progress

Ready for transport

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dancing Bears Chapter 2: Details, details...

I fell a bit behind on the blog postings due to the fact that this project was slated for completion and installation prior to Christmas day. There were so many intricate details to create, sculpt and paint and we were working around-the-clock to make sure we could finish by the projected due date. Here is a smorgasbord of photos showcasing all of the amazing details we created for this art piece. These final additions really made the entire piece come to life, though extremely time consuming, they were so enjoyable to work on because they really are the  icing on the cake! Stay tuned for the installation and photos of the final installed product. Happy New Year!
Sculpting vintage skis and poles
Gold leafing the header sign
Sculpting the columbine with temporary supports

Detailing snowshoe hare

Bonnie sculpting eagle
Chipmunk  fattening up for winter

The painting and glazing stage

Finished, ready for mounting

Sly fox sneaking around

Prosit! Let's dance

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dancing Bears Chapter 2

The Dancing Bears art piece has been progressing with a lot of artistic attention and is getting more and more unique by the day. All of the sculpted pieces are now receiving base coats of primer and acrylic paints. The aspen trees are adorned with over 500 hand-formed leaves, which are now getting painted in shades of green, yellow and orange. All of the foreground is completed with sculpted grass and moss rock, and has completely transformed the art piece. This serves as a base from which the art piece grows out of, so it was important to get this detail just right. A few stray yellow leaves cover the ground and serve as a reminder to the dancing bears that autumn has arrived. This is an excuse to uncork a bottle of wine and do a snow-dance, because these bears are die-hard skiers. The next phase of sculpting will include vintage skis and snowshoes, a happy chipmunk, eagle in flight, a fox peeking out from the grasses and many more surprises. In the mean time Bonnie and crew will continue with the beautiful pictorial painting and detailing of the stone, trees, ground and so forth. The Dancing Bears header sign has been gilded with genuine 23k gold leaf, applied by hand, leaf by leaf. The lettering inside the ribbon will get the same technique after the burgundy color glazes have been completed. Work on this unique project continues to challenge and stimulate our artistic souls every day, and has left us feeling the need to dance with wine glasses in hand!

More soon... Roger Cox -

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dancing the night away...

Wow, what a busy week it's been in the House of Signs workshop. There are a multitude of enjoyable projects being worked on, however, the main focus has been on the continuation of the Dancing Bears project. The transformation this week alone has been quite exciting. The beatifully sculpted bears are nearing completion, and are dancing around the workshop awaiting their glasses of wine. Many hours of were put into the aspen trees, detailing the bark, rolling out large sheets of Magic Sculpt, hand-forming each leave then applying to the branches by the dozens. The pine trees continued to transform with even greater detail and thicker branches. The ground or base, which spans the entire artpiece, was formed with foil, metal lathe and Magic Sculpt, and waits a second coat of epoxy.  The "Snowmass" ribbon got underway, with incise-carved lettering and hand-carved folds. All of us can hardly wait to see this paragon come to life in the paint-finishing stages. Next week this project will sit patiently as we focus on some tight deadlines for the opening of the 2011/12 ski season at Breckenridge Ski Resort on November 11th. We will be back with more exciting updates, and hopefully the bears won't go into hibernation.  Roger Cox -


Friday, November 4, 2011

Two bears, a magpie and crushed glass...

A great deal of progress has been made this week on the House of the Dancing Bears artpiece. Here you see the steel rod armeratures for the two dancing bears getting bulked up with aluminum foil. This process allows us to get the rough proportions fairly close before coating, sculpting and texturing the figures with the magic sculpt epoxy resin. The foil method also helps keep the weight down, which is a consideration as this piece is approaching 300 pounds. The foreground pine tree was adorned with a sculpted magpie, Colorado's notoriously loud but beautiful bird. Bonnie even added a slight attitude to it's expression which fits their personality quite well.  The background for the main header sign was painted with a marine epoxy, and then imported German Osmalto was sprinkled into the wet epoxy for curing. This crushed glass was a custom mixture of four different colors of light and dark reds, and a splash of amber. Next step on the sign will be gilding the letters and border with genuine 23k gold leaf, and sculpting a columbine, our State flower, which will embellish the top of the sign. My daughter Hailey is proudly posing in front of the sign, which is now officially her favorite sign that has ever come out of Dad's shop. Tomorrow will be an exciting day of sculpting, texturing and carving.
Stay tuned...
Roger Cox  -

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dancing Bears project continued...

This project has really started to evolve into a unique art piece, and this week, many long hours were spent working on the countless elements that encompass this creation. Bonnie created the beautifully layered and textured bass relief mountain scene with magic sculpt (a two-part epoxy resin) and it now awaits the painting phase. The header sign was milled from HDU and given a rustic hand-carved chiseled effect on the prismatic letters. Base coats of primer and enamel paint were added and now it awaits the Osmalto background and gilded letters. The metal sculpted trees received a base coat of aluminum foil to give bulk and texture, and then received the very labor-intensive coating and texturing of the trunks and branches. This process required us to hire a crew of four energetic artists to mix and knead the two-part epoxy, so a constant supply was always available without any downtime. Bonnie and her crew are doing an amazing job in this very labor intensive stage.
The armatures for the two dancing bears were welded and heat-molded, and now await the same sculpting process as the trees mentioned above. The wine barrel was hand-carved from five layers of HDU, and now awaits more detail work.
Stay tuned...   Roger Cox 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

House of the Dancing Bears Project

As stated in my last post, this project incorporates a wide variety of specialized materials and an even greater fusion of techniques ranging from welding and metal sculpting with heat torches, hand-carving, grinding and machining high density urethane (HDU), crushed glass inlays (Osmalto), gilding with genuine 23k gold leaf, bass relief sculpting and full sculptural carvings using a two-part epoxy resin, and so on... I am very grateful to my clients for giving me complete freedom in determining materials and techniques for this creation.

One of the dynamics I have really been enjoying working on this project is the fact that I am collaborating with two local artists. Randy Ballheim, a good friend, fellow sign maker and craftsman extraordinaire, and Bonnie Norling-Wakeman, an equally amazing artist who is now very successful with her relief walls ( The inspiration I feel working with these two artists has definitely influenced this project in a very positive way.

In these photos, you can see the faux-stone window taking shape, as well as the steel armature for all of the trees which consumed over 300 feet of welding rod and many manhours of labor.

More to come...

Roger Cox