Artist: Zan Wells
How were you contacted to create this piece and what was the inspiration?
Chris Stone (president, VisitGreenvilleSC), got in touch with me about this sculpture. He wanted to use an old leather suitcase he had as inspiration for the piece. Chris was determined to attract tourists to Greenville and he thought one way was with sculpture. I used his ideas, but I incorporated mine into the project. I just changed a few things around to accommodate being able to put brochures in it. The pants, rolled shirt and socks, shoes, scarf, camera, binoculars and candy would have found their way into my suitcase.
The suitcase was first installed on a bench in front of the Visitors Center. It was later moved after the area was redesigned to its present location. According to Chris, it was, and has been, a huge success. Not only in the application for which it was designed, but it brought more interest from Greenvillians to have more sculpture.
What type of materials did you use to create the sculpture?
The process of making this and most bronze sculpture starts when the clay figure is taken to the foundry. A rubber mold is made from the clay figure. A mother mold is made over the rubber mold for stability, then the clay is removed and melted wax is poured into the mold. The wax figure is removed from the mold. I return to the foundry and re-work the wax figure to correct any flaws. A ceramic mold is made over it and then the wax is melted out. With the wax gone, molten bronze poured into the ceramic mold. After cooling, the bronze is broken out of the mold, cleaned, sand blasted, small corrections made, painted and waxed for the final step.
In large sculptures the model is made in numerous pieces, which then have to be welded and textured to hide the welds so that the piece looks like it was made in one piece. All steps are important. Everyone working on the piece has to be an artist in his trade to have a finished piece that is really good.
Once completed, the sculpture is then transported to the site and installed in a way to protect and secure the sculpture.
For this piece, the details on the handle, locks and stitches deserve some note. Each stitch was applied to the clay model by a small piece of clay, moving each end of each stitch into the clay so that it had a realistic look. Each lock and the handle was fashioned in clay.
How long did it take to create, and what was the creation process like?
I cannot say exactly how long it takes to make a piece. The planning and preparing and scheduling plays a big part. Basically, it would take about nine months to a year. Not many people have any notion of the process of taking a wad of clay and ending up with a bronze sculpture. It is a long and tedious progression, but it makes me a happy camper.
What is your favorite part of the piece and why?
I guess one of my favorite parts is the candy and the Zanzoom camera. It took me forever to put each one of those stitches on the suitcase. There are a lot of stitches.
When was it completed?