Saturday, April 27, 2013

Maori Woman 1876. After a painting by Gottfried Lindauer

The image I chose to work from is one of Lindauer's edgier paintings, grittier than earlier works in which I believe, he tended towards idealising his subjects.

A quick graphite on paper study of a Maori woman from 1876 after an oil painting by Gottfried Lindauer. Is this woman the Maori equivalent of the Mona Lisa? Who was she I wonder?

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Red elephant of Khyber Pass, Auckland New Zealand

In the early 1990's I was involved in the design and building of many commercially oriented public sculptures and 3D signs.

This project, a ferro cement, generic elephant, was built for the Chang Tong Thai Restaurant, now known as the Red Elephant.




The Golden Elephant of Khyber Pass, Auckland, New Zealand with the company ute in the foreground. Photo taken by me in 1991.
Here are a few surviving images of the building process.
The armature beginning to reveal the shape of the elephant in 3 D.

Another perspective of the steel armature in the workshop.

Armature with most of its wire netting applied, those are my boys, Robert and Arien.

A trunk down perspective of the plastering process.
I developed a very successful plaster mixture by blending Portland cement with equal parts of sand and macerated news paper which was power mixed with a paddle and a drill. It clung to the two layers of mesh extremely well.
What the paster application looked like from inside.

A young Rachel Hunter looks on.

My son Arien as Mahout
The detail was added as a second plaster layer using a variety of metal shapes bent out of steel sheet.
Swinging the sculpture from the low loader into position outside the restaurant in Khyber Pass, Auckland NZ. It weighed 1.5 tonnes.

My daughter Rebekka loved the excitement of Dad's job.

In position, my children from left to right, Robert, Rebekka, Arien in his favourite position.
This is my son Robert with the red elephant in 2012
Auckland wildlife

More Auckland wildlife

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sati is at last grazing peacefully at The Labyrinth in the Waiotemarama Gorge

We called James to bring his truck to collect Sati on Sunday morning.


Loading Sati in Rawene ready for the journey

Buckling in.
Halfway there, Sati takes in the breathtaking view of the Hokianga Harbour.


Sati loves her new forest home.

Nearly there.
Sati finds her feet
Louis, Sati's new owner with Harmen.

Four more bolts to go and she's secure. Labyrinth Shop and Puzzle Museum in the background.
Sati, Harmen & Julie
 Louis, Harmen, Julie and Sue in front of Sati.
For the Northern News release article, Wednesday 10 April 2013 go to this link

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sati is close to her delivery date of Sunday the 7th of April 2013

Easter Monday, the day I covered Sati in one complete coat of boiled linseed oil and turpentine.
"That tickles"
 The oil darkens and warms the concrete simultaneously giving me the result I'm after. One more coat on Saturday and we're done.
Hind legs to go and I can have a cup of tea!

Please help the elephants of the world.

I want my work on Sati to stand for something into the future.

An Elephant Never Forgets documentary Youtube trailer of a new release, must see, viewer discretion advised.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Thailand. By Lek Chailert

Please sign this petition to send your support to Dame Daphne Sheldrick for the welfare of Elephants worldwide.

Here's another online peteition to protest against ivory trading.

This one is to the president of Kenya petition link.

This is the link for www.saveelephant.org elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

I will add more as I find them. Share, share, share, sign sign sign please!

Harmen Hielkema



Friday, March 29, 2013

Sati the Elephant nears completion.

This summer has been exceptional for out door elephant making. Every weekend I've been able to crack on with large scale, very messy processes without having to think about shelter from anything other than too much sun!




Sati is now a uniform gray all over.

Good Friday saw the last application of plaster render applied in a continuous coat over Sati's entire body. I've mixed eight batches of plaster distributed by mortar board and steel trowel and laid off with a synthetic brush.

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

Sati is a very awkward shape for plastering with a flat trowel so there is a ridiculous amount of fiddly swiping to manipulate the paster over the undulations of her huge body, particularly underneath, around her legs and genital area! That makes a total of 100 kg of plaster applied over a 6 week period.


Now, to tidy up the driveway.

Once the plaster reached a semi cured state I was able to trace lines and creases into her skin with a sculpting tool, followed by a final dry brush over to remove the particles displaced by the tool.

By the end of the day my arm was ready to fall off! Tendons were complaining and much deep heat was applied to ease the pain.
Toenails await highlights.

I've undertaken some research on the merits of various finishing systems for plaster render when I stumbled upon a scholarly review on the use of boiled linseed oil on cementous surfaces.  It seems that boiled oil thinned with equal quantities of mineral turpentine do an excellent job of penetrating and sealing a plaster rendered finish. The Romans used it too for the same purpose. I'm happy enough with the test results from the report to have enough confidence to go ahead and try two coats of boiled linseed oil as a finish coating.
Holly our Abyssinian queen says "Yes I know there's an elephant behind me, so what?"

Boiled oil yellows over time which is the result I want. Plaster has a cool light gray natural colour which is not quite what I want for Sati. I have been colouring the paster around her face, trunk and ears with mineral pigments to mimic the natural skin tones of an Asian female elephant. The tusks and toenails have had the same treatment. All I want now is is a suitably warm amber clear coat mixed with burnt umber to darken and enhance the mineral pigments applied.


Holly gives us a sense of scale, she'll miss Sati when she's gone.



Friday, March 8, 2013

Sati the Elephant has her first coat of plaster.

Red sail comes from my old outrigger canoe Toroa.
The sun is beating down causing the plaster to cure too fast, solution? rig a shade sail.

The blue band is bone setting casting bandage of the synthetic, 3M variety wrapped tightly around the repair to Sati's foot to prevent cracking in the plastered surface. I used the same material to reinforce her tusks.

Ladders come in handy for all sorts of stuff.
Sati salutes you.

view from the neighbouring driveway out across the Hokianga Harbour.

Ready for the next step

This is what you will see when you visit.

After the last two coats of finishing plaster reinforced with glass cloth I will coat Sati with a waterbased Epoxy clear coat which will darken and warmly enrich the natural plaster colour. I'll use a tinted white plaster for the fore head, tusks and toenails before the final clear coat goes on.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Early morning shaping binge brings Sati closer to plastering

Today I awoke early and put in some time before breakfast, does anyone know the saying "Mad dogs and Englishmen.."? It's just too hot during the day to do anything as strenuous as making an elephant! The glare off the white polystyrene gives me snow blindness too.
Sati has finally reached the point where shaping is complete.

All her cutaway side has been filled and shaped ready for plastering.

Sati is no white elephant! All that remains to be done is a final sand, grind the joint line around her two mating halves and I'm ready to trowel on the first coat of plaster.
Julie took some images of me sitting on her back this afternoon.




Briar. Coloured pencil on paper.

Coloured pencil drawing from the early 1990's