Mailander Presses For Sale

About the Abstract Sculpture      About the Figurative Sculpture      About the 2D Images      What Makes Art Collectable




Juniper Noir Abstract

The Process
The sculpture is made by “evaporative pattern casting.” Each piece is unique — one-of-a-kind — it is NOT cast from a mold. The process begins with a polystyrene pattern that I build from individual elements. The pattern is placed in a large vessel, buried with loose sand, vibrated to pack the sand around it and then molten metal is poured into it via a pouring spout (insulated funnel). If all goes well during the pour, the sand will not move and within a nano-second the hot metal will burn out the pattern and take the polystyrene’s form. If it fails, I wind up with a piece of metal cauliflower. The cooled metal form is removed from the sand and the pouring spout is ground off. Next the sculpture is cleaned by sand-blasting and then a finish is applied. To complete the piece, a felt pad is mounted onto the base and the piece is ready for display.

Evaporative pattern casting is a very involved casting process. It is primarily used in the industrial world when very long production runs are required. Due to many, hard-to-control variables, a large foundry may do 25-50 experimental trials to get everything perfect before beginning a production run of thousands. When I use this process, I have to deal with a myriad of variables, too, but I only have one hand-built pattern, thus I have only one chance for a successful pour. It took me five years of continual experimentation until I had some consistent success, however I would guess about half of my pours end in failure and the design is lost forever. Even if I build another similar pattern, each piece is unique as every pour will have its own variables affecting the final outcome.

While I would love to see a maquette enlarged to become the centerpiece of your landscaping design, I would be just as thrilled if you simply wanted to enjoy it as part of your interior decor. Please see my Terms of Sale.

What the Sculpture Represents
As I begin to design and build the piece, it takes on a life of its own. In essence, I initiate the first 15 or 20 percent and then the piece tells me what to do next. It becomes obvious that there is only one “right” place for each element to go. It is very important for me to work when the mood is right and ideas are flowing so that I can listen to the sculpture’s inner voice ... but since I have one deaf ear, maybe it’s just what I thought I heard. <smile>

Each piece has been given a name, based on my interpretation. But my intention is for you to relate the piece to your own circumstances. Look to see correlations with your life and those you love. Shape, size, and placement of each element in relation to the others creates unique portraits of life. Relationships and family units are easy to see. Part of the fun is creating your own story of who or what you see ... your allegory adds special meaning to the piece. The sculpture works equally well as home decor or in a corporate environment.

Limited Edition of One
Each piece of sculpture is a unique piece. It is an edition of “one”. There are NO other copies. The total effort of the design is in each solitary piece. A Certificate of Authenticity accompanies every sculpture and it is signed and dated by me when you purchase the piece.

About the Abstract Sculpture      About the Figurative Sculpture      About the 2D Images      What Makes Art Collectable

Gypsy Queen

When I was taking figurative sculpture classes, shaping the human form was a natural process for me. The pieces shown here are examples of work I have done in the past, either for class work or commissions.

I am a modeler, meaning I work by adding and manipulating clay to build up the piece. It is the complete opposite of carving a hard material such as stone or wood. I start with an armature and add clay to it, building it just like a snowman. I prefer to work with a live model rather than from photographs, however, if you look at my Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pieces, they were done from newspaper clippings and magazine photos after his death.

There are basically two types of clay that I use ... an oil-based and a water-based. The oil-based clay (Plastilina), has the advantage of not drying out like a water-based clay and allows me to start and stop the modeling process over a long period of time, months or even years. The disadvantage is the extreme cost of the clay.

Water-based clay is easy to use, inexpensive and can be fired. The disadvantage is it must be kept in a continually damp state. This means the modeling process must be completed in a much shorter time span.

After the sculpture is modeled, it is ready for the casting process to begin. First a negative mold must be made from plaster or rubber. Next a wax positive is made from that mold. A gating system (plumbing system) for the molten metal to run through, is then attached to the wax. After that the wax is invested (buried) in a plaster or ceramic mold. This mold is dried and heated so the wax runs out, hence the name “lost wax process”. It is now ready for the molten metal to be poured into the mold. After the metal solidifies, the mold is chipped away and the remnants of the gating system are sawed off. If the sculpture is cast in multiple pieces, they are now welded together. The next step is chasing, which is grinding, hammering and polishing. The raw metal is now ready to receive a patina (finish) and finally the sculpture is waxed and mounted to a base. This long, tedious, extremely expensive process usually takes about six months.

The Cost
Sculpture is extremely expensive to produce, unlike a painting or drawing where the cost of materials and tools is relatively insignificant. Imagine what it would cost to have your own specially designed automobile built for you and there would never be another one made.

Metal sculpture must be cast in a foundry. It requires an extremely large investment to own and operate one. I served an apprenticeship in an art foundry in order to learn the skills required for casting metal. Because of that training, I feel I have more control of my work than some other sculptors. My evaporative pattern and sand-cast pieces were personally cast by me. The lost wax pieces were done by other craftsmen at a foundry.

Artist’s lament: Sculpture is usually greatly undervalued. The foundry and gallery take the lion's share of the purchase price. You have a unique opportunity to purchase these pieces directly from me ... which will save you a considerable amount of money ... since there will be no commissions to pay.

About the Abstract Sculpture      About the Figurative Sculpture      About the 2D Images      What Makes Art Collectable

About the 2D Images
Original Paintings

I work in a variety of mediums when creating a painting. Some are oil or acrylic on canvas, some are ink-on-paper, some might be “mixed media”.

I also work in a wide variety of styles, ranging from abstract to figurative ... sometimes a mixture of both! Most of my abstract pieces are many layers deep, something I have termed “history”. As I lay one layer on the next the piece seems to “create itself”. My figurative studies are often the result of a session with a live figure model.

Fine Art Hand-Pulled Monotypes
A monotype is a hand-pulled, ink-on-paper print. It is an “original” ... the only print pulled. The process involves hand-applying one or more colors of ink to a plastic plate, using brushes, small foam rollers, a finger, or whatever. A sheet of paper is laid over the plate and run through a roller on the press. It is not an exact science and only some of the ink transfers to the paper ... an exact duplicate can never be made. For me, this is the fun part of the process ... you never know how the ink is going to transfer. When you peel back the paper, it’s like opening a Christmas gift. I often make many passes through the press, laying down different layers of color each time. In the end, there is still only one print. Other prints can sometimes be ghosted from the original but they, in-turn, become originals in their own right because they cannot be exact duplicates. Some of my monotypes have been digitally scanned and are now available as lithographs or giclees.

Fine Art Collages
My collages tend to be abstract compositions. When I have monotypes that don’t quite work out, I chop them up and give them new life as a collage. I add other found media like handmade paper, fabric, foil and paint to weave a story around a central theme. It’s fun trying to figure out what the story is ... sort of like a treasure hunt. I usually put a hint in the title or a few words embedded in the collage. They are quite time-consuming to make, require a considerable stock-pile of elements, goodies, patience and other stuff ... and are a lot of fun. I plan to offer more in the future.

Fine Art Giclee
Giclee is the French word for spurt of ink. In the art world, it allows artists to offer high-quality reproductions, on demand, without tying up their operating capital on an expensive lithographic edition. A sophisticated ink-jet printer is used to print pigmented ink on special canvas or fine art paper. The pigmented ink is designed to offer 70-plus years of longevity, but until 70 years has actually passed, I personally don't offer any archival guarantees for this process. The process does produce beautiful prints, however. I offer giclees of some of my work to give you the opportunity to purchase a custom-made reproduction in whatever size you prefer.

Fine Art Metal-Plate Lithographs
Lithographs are new to my repertoire. In the last few years I have become interested in the process of printing a lithograph and have purchased my own flatbed proof press. A lithograph is the process of transferring ink from a metal plate, to a rubber blanket, and transferring that image to the paper. The metal plates are prepared using a photographic technique, one plate for each color. My lithos are not mass-produced, but are pulled one-at-a-time on my old-world press. The quality is superb. I plan to add more in the future, both “limited” and “open” editions.

Fine Art Hand-Pulled Stone Lithographs
A stone lithograph is produced using a very old process. Using a grease litho crayon and touche, an image is drawn on a piece of unique Bavarian limestone. The stone is then prepared with special chemicals so that ink is only attracted to the crayon and the touche. The remaining part of the stone attracts water. To make a print, you wipe the stone with a water-filled sponge and then roll ink over the surface. Ink is deposited in the area where the litho crayon was applied. A piece of paper is placed over the stone and then squeezed in the press. Approximately half of the ink transfers to the paper, then ink must be reapplied for the next print. Each time ink is applied you run the risk of scumming the stone, therefore ending the edition. Most artists draw on the stone, but hire a master printer to do the actual printing due to the intricacies of the process. I have personally printed these stone lithographs, therefore these are very limited editions.

Fine Art Hand-Pulled Serigraphs
A serigraph is the arty word for screen printing. Unlike the free-form process of monotypes, a serigraph requires a considerable amount of planning. For every color in the print, a separate screen must be prepared. Each color must be registered with the previous one as it is laid down. Sometimes the ink used is transparent, creating a new color when it overprints. Sometimes the ink is opaque, blocking out the the color beneath it. The design can be simple or quite complicated depending on the process used to create the original screens. Some screens are hand-cut, others use a photographic technique ... this often determines the size of the edition. I am looking forward to offering serigraphs in the future.

Fine Art Hand-Pulled Etchings
It takes a long time to create the original plate used to make an etching. I don’t have the patience for the process, therefore I only have a one-print edition to offer. The outlook for future editions looks dismal.

About the Abstract Sculpture      About the Figurative Sculpture      About the 2D Images      What Makes Art Collectable

  What Makes
Art Collectable?

One of the measures is, “Are the ideas expressed new or are they just reworked ideas from another artist's work?” While many artists have influenced me, I think my pieces are unique. The forms and images you see here have taken me many years to develop, giving them a distinctive style.

Another question that might be important in collecting work is, “How prolific is the artist?” The answer will give you some indication of whether there is enough exposure of his work for him to ever mature and “hit”. Each year I produce more than 30 unique sculpture pieces, mostly maquettes, and literally hundreds of original 2D images. Time doesn't permit all of them to be showcased on this website, however I welcome you to visit my studio any time you are in the neighborhood. Contact me to schedule a tour!


Please Note! If you are considering buying a piece of my art, the right to copy or use it in a commercial venture remains with me and is not part of the sale, unless that is expressly written in the bill of sale. Please see my Terms of Sale.

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© 2009 Richard Arfsten

Due to variations in monitors, actual artwork may vary slightly in color than what appears on your screen.