Commissioned public works of art, in stone, bronze, steel, and glass. Dale Johnson has been part of several large-scale public, academic, and corporate sculptural activities; working with cities, schools, architecture firms and donors is something he takes pride in. Dale is an active part of the process, and brings a lifetime of experience to every project.
A local resident left part of her estate to establish a children’s reading garden in the rapidly developing Delaware County Library System. I am honored to have been the first selected. I hope my work inspires young readers for generations to come.
I thank the Delaware County Library for their complete gift of artistic freedom. This piece was an unusual pleasure to create.
The kiss; the two sides unite.
The hammer blow… from thus, this. Magic. Reality. Here.
The exploring fish, unnerved… a marvel of the mysterious sea.
Forest spirits making sure the gold of legends is taken care of… and one of the Leprechauns has given up his duty for a higher cause.
This was one of my first public projects. It is still in operation, almost twenty years later. the water flows out of the book and across the split boulder, and disappears. The boulder is suspended on a stainless steel grate that holds the gravel at grade level.
This Thurber Dog facing down a butterfly is at the home of the funder of the Thurber House 100th Anniversary Garden.
My daughter was featured in the newspaper riding this Thurber Dog at the inaugural. She was five. She tuurns twenty this year.
Still, twenty years later, the ball balances. Epoxy.
The water flows across the pages, down and away. This li one of the best reading places in Columbus, I’ve heard from many.
This dog has since become so overgrown most he’s hard to see.
This sweet dog is now surrounded by flowers, and seems to be smelling them at the right time of year. Time is everything with sculpture.
The Slueth Dog. Tricky tail.
The digging dog has all but dug himself right out of sight.
The Balancing Dog has been balancing for over ten years now…
And the sniffing dog has been sniffing since the last century.
This is a photo of Blue, Butler University’s mascot. Butler has been a champion basketball team for generations, and I have had the honor of doing several projects for the university. The latest was a columbarium to hold the ashes of all past and future mascots. I was commissioned to do a sculpture for the memorial.
A block of styrofoam has been begun. Myself and my fellow sculptor and friend Anthony Jacobs used a large hot wire to cut through the foam. Nobody else was there to take our picture.
Carving the styrofoam armature is very tricky, because the eye’s tendency is to imagine the form of the finished piece, which would leave no room for experimentation and improvisation.
The clay I like is an oil-based clay that is hard at room temperature, but softens with heat. I use an old electric wok to heat the clay. Hot it can be poured; cold it can be carved like stone. It is useable for different purposes throughout the temperature range.
Bronze is very revealing of texture. The difference between the two textures, once cast, will be very clear.
Trip, Butler’s current mascot, came to inspect the finished clay master. Henry gave Trip a good sniffing. Note that Trip even has his own car!
Michael, Trip’s owner and handler, came to inspect the finished clay master. We made a few adjustments, and then Trip gave his approval.
The finished master on the way to the foundry.
At the foundry a rubber mold is taken of the clay master. The mold is made of several different sections so that it can be removed without damage to itself or to the master. Once complete, the mold will beken off the master and painted on the inside with hot wax until a wax reproduction of the clay master is created. The wax reproduction is about 1/4″ thick.
The finished mold. The rubber has been covered with plaster so it will hold its shape. Each of the plaster sections has been keyed so that they lock together.
After the wax reproduction is finished it is cut into smaller pieces, each of which is dipped repeatedly into a fluid form of ceramic slurry, each coat of which is also coated with a fine sand for stability. The ceramic is liquid, so it conforms to the shape of the wax perfectly. Once enough of a shell has been formed, the mold is fired in a special kiln, which melts the wax out at the same time that it fires the ceramic shell. The completed hollow mold will have molten bronze poured in, which will perfectly reproduce the shape of the wax reproduction of the clay master.
The bronze head, after the ceramic mold has been broken off and the bronze sandblasted clean. The sections will next be welded back together, the welds cleaned and the texture chased to match the original, and then a patina will be applied.
The welding process.
John Cline, Foundry master, demonstrating how difficult the process is.
The completed bronze is then heated with a torch and chemicals are sprayed onto the hot metal to change the color of the surface of the metal. After this, the sculpture is sealed and waxed.
Headed to Indianapolis for the installation on campus.
The finished sculpture, installed on campus, with the completed columbarium.
Dedication. Beautiful day.
The finished sculpture will be guarding the remains of the Butler mascots for generations to come. Thanks Butler Class of 2014!!!
What a blast this job was! The capitals on these columns were deteriorating horribly, falling apart, crumbling. Myself and my helper Jack Oliver cut off all the rotten stone, and epoxied and pinned on new stone, and re-carved the new stone to match the old. These capitals are nine feet across. The coolest thing is that no one could tell we did it. Seamless blend to this day.
I spent so much time after my divorce at this club, the only jazz club in Columbus at the time, that I donated this piece to the club. It’s still there and will be for as long as the building exists. Park Street Tavern (at the time the 5:01 club).
These panthers, one called “Life of the Mind” and one called “Life of the Body”, had to be removed from their original outdoor location due to vandalism. This shot is taken in their present location. The concept and overall design are by Dale Johnson, but the models and carving were done by Matthew Palmer during his long stay with Old World.
It is satisfying to know that thousands of photographs of the beautiful panthers exist. I look forward to being asked to do an eagle, or whatever is next. I like working for schools.
This one, “Life of th Body”, has always impressed me with its tense pose, so catlike and so observant. Go Hanover!
The figures in the center, life-size marble, would have represented a mother and son freshly arrived by train at a camp. black figures would have been carved and scorched wood. The flooring would have been broken limestone slabs to symbolize the roads made of broken tombstones.
Unfortunately, the project never received adequate funding and never happened.
A friend that owns a machine shop called and asked if I wanted some scrap steel, which of course I did, and another friend called and asked if I had a use for a large glass conference table top, which I broke his office and hauled out in pieces. This piece became the result. All pieces are held together by gravity and welding only- no holes were drilled, there are no pins or adhesives.
This piece unwittingly became inspired by the Native American Hoop Dances I saw as a child in South Dakota, where I grew up. One side is a female dancer, the other a male.
The piece was selected to stand outside the Fine Arts building of the Ohio State Fair a few years ago.
I was disqualified from being the show that year as my piece was too large, but I enjoyed being outside the building anyway. It was a first. Stupidly, I forgot to go to the opening ceremonies. Such a loss of good schmooze time. Being and artist… sometimes ya gotta schmooze.
This column in Goodale Park in Columbus, Ohio, originally installed in 1899, has deteriorated badly. I have been commissioned by a Centennial Preservation Group to re-carve the heads. My proposal is to rebuild the missing parts with clay and then to re-carve new sandstone blocks to match the clay.
The gate and column were a gift in 1899 to the City’s first park. The original meanings of the column animals have been lost to time, although we do know that the eight human heads on the gate represent the eight stages of Man. The carving is masterful, and does not resemble any other carving in the Columbus area, that I know of. We know nothing of the original artist.
The tooling on the buff sandstone has survived remarkably well, and demonstrates the level of the craftsmanship brought to this column. The heads are about 9′ off the ground- too high to touch. The wear is likely from acid rain and the burning of coal for so many decades.
The cap came off easily, and we set it aside. After we had picked the section with the heads and put it on my truck, we put the cap back for safekeeping while the restoration is done in my studio.
Playing with big lifts and heavy things is always exciting. Although no one can really see it, the scalloped top is textured with one continuous spiral line from top to bottom.
This is the only original photo the historical committee could give me. Detail must be inferred. It is agreed the animal on the left is probably a panther, and that the one on the right is a lion. The ram, not show here, is extent enough to know it is a ram, but the fourth head was badly deteriorated and no known photo exists.
The ears, the eyes, a bit of the for head, and a grainy photo are all there is to go on, but that’s enough to conclude it was a stylized panther.
Part of an eye, droopy ears, and a bit of forehead seem to indicate the subject was a dog. No known photographs exist.
The ram is pretty much intact, and a hint at the style that may have been used for the other heads, although it does seem very different.
The lion head featured a bit of an ear, some mane, and pits indicating the height of the eyes. The source photo and the extent remains indicate this was a lion. Here I have started on the lion, and on the left is an early version of the panther.
Using an oil-based clay that gets softer with heat (I use an old Sunbeam electric skillet), I rebuilt the heads in full scale in my shop. This is an early stage of the panther. The lion is on the right, the dog on the left. The sandstone blocks are 16 1/2″ tall.
I was able to get a good start by making the right begin to mirror the left. At this stage I had to commit to something, and felt that the only defensible choice was a dog.
The red sandstone is the original carver’s work. I have tried throughout to do what I could to work in his style more than my own. I’ve learned during this process several pointers from the past.
The lion, nearly complete. I will add textural details in the sandstone when I recarve them.
The dog is as animated as I could get him, given the restraints.
I gave the panther a sneer, as the eyes sort of implied that, as did the source photo. He struck me as a tease, a mischief maker.