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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome to the House of Signs blog

I am excited to begin posting articles to this new blog page to document the many adventures and progress photos of this unique sign-making trade. This year has been filled with creative and challenging projects, a lot of which can be attributed to the success of my new website ( I launched my new site in June 2010 which was designed by Dan Antonelli and his creative team at The site was an immediate success, as we gained many new local and national clients within a short period of time. This was positive confirmation that a well-designed website, which also showcases the high-quality work we specialize in, really does create a new client base. We have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful clients, from all parts of the country, on some very unique projects.

Case in point; a couple from Canada, sought us out from an online search, to have us design and fabricate a one-of-a-kind creation for their newly constructed home situated in the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. After working out all of the design details over the course of the summer, we are now in full production mode, utilizing an entire arsenal of fabrication techniques acquired over the past twenty-two years of my career. I look forward to posting articles and photos tracking the progress of this very unique and challenging project.

Stay tuned for the adventures documenting the creation titled: Huus Vode Tanzende Bare (House of the Dancing Bears).

Roger Cox