Trefor Prest Sculpture

the process of making my sculpture

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Work has been progressing steadily on the new piece. Now it is at the finishing off stage, where all the parts which have come together in a rough, aproximate way have to be made to fit proerly and their positions finalised. It’s also the time when the shortcomings become apparent, those areas that did not live up to the initial flush of excitement they started with.

But, I have given it my best shot and, even though it did not come out quite as I thought it might I am pleased with the result.


This shot shows the two skins of the wing which has finally been welded together, prior to sanding


Here I am bending the pipe from the inner element.


And here is the finished element.



In the last post I thought I had some idea of the way this piece was going. It’s going somewhere else now, things have gone off in a new direction and instead of a pair of wings I am concentrating on one. Maybe the other one will also develop later and they will become twins. And maybe not.


I began making this skeletal ghost wing to echo the wing itself. Brass bar was shaped and welded together: it’s still pretty rough at this stage.


Here the two have come together with a knuckle, under my thumb.You will notice that the two halves of the copper wing have not yet been welded together. I will leave that until later, in case there are any changes to the wing itself.


This is as far as I have got. The structure going down to the base is starting to come together but is still in flux, as indeed is everything else at this stage.

Starting somewhere

The next stage was the making of two “wings”. This is how they were made.


First a length of  3/4″ brass bar was tapered in the lathe, after a hole was drilled and tapped in the wide end.


Then this bar was bent into shape with a lot of trial and error.(out of focus – sorry)


The rest of the frame is fabricated, bent to shape, then welded together, again with a fair bit of trial and error.


the outer skin I shaped without a mould this time, hammering it out then fitting it to the frame.

wings inner

This is the inside of the wings. They are both a little different , I try to avoid symmetry.


And this is how I imagine it will shape up. Of course there is another element which I have not started yet and this will be the major part. Maybe I should have made that first. But you have to start somewhere.


All the loose ends have been tied up and I can stand back and look at the finished piece. I have called it “Matin” , with connotations of early morning.

It’s probably not what I imagined at the start. It’s an odd looking thing, rather squat, and hard to read from some angles. It is a piece you need to walk around, and of course this is the essence of sculpture – it is a three dimensional medium.




Perhaps the photo taken from above (below) best captures the whole.



Goodbye to the crutch


The time had come to make a start on the part which will suspend the piece. I suppose I had been putting this off, I had made a sort of crutch out of steel bar which I could hang it from, but I needed to finalise this crucial part.


This shows the main support bar being shaped using a tool I have made for just this purpose.


Here is a range of them I have made over the years.


The arm takes shape  and the support parts are clamped in place and adjusted.


the support arms are drilled through the bar on the milling machine.


This is how it came together.

Bending brass

This is where I have got to so far


The two forms have been joined and the large one seems to be gripping the neck of the smaller one


The two brass arms come together and will eventually flow into a thicker arm which will suspend the forms. At least that is the current plan.

Bending the arms was quite a tricky business, made harder by the fact that they are attached to hinges. This meant that they could not be bent in situ but had to be taken off, heated to red heat ,bent a little, cooled, then assembled again. This process was repeated many times and took the best part of a day to get into rough shape.

Thoughts Have Wings


Last Saturday I attended the book launch of John McGlades book “Thoughts Have Wings,”published by Birdfish Books .

John is an old friend from way back and is something of a renaissance man. He is an artist, designer,and an intellectual as well as being a motorbike rider and an avid hang glider. And an all round good bloke to boot.

Since developing motor neurone disease he has completed his PHD (The Ephinomenal in Architecture and a Creative Sequence). He also began to write poetry, which brings us to “Thoughts Have Wings”.

I was quite gratified that he had included ” The Sculptor “, a poem that he had shown me some time ago. It is always revealing to see your work reflected in a different art form, a chance to see your work as others see it.


The photo shows John and myself, holding John’s daughter, Emmanuelle in 1995

Heat and Grunt



This is an example of the  reassessment and reworking that takes place as the work progresses. I made the “acorn” shape above, but when it was attached I realised that I had got the scale wrong


Here is mk2, smaller, and I have abandoned the ” acorn”. A little tongue has also appeared.

These photos show the davit  I am making to suspend the piece from. The one in the previous photos was a temporary one left over from something years ago. The main component is a stainless steel rod tapered and bent into shape around a cast iron wheel.This was also initially too big so  it was bent around two successively smaller wheels to get where it is now after much heat and grunt were expended.

Holy baseplate

Here is the finished piece, and it has a name now – “These Days “

However, you will notice that the baseplate, with the holes drilled in it is made of steel. This seemed a bit leaden so I thought it would be better if it was made of brass, or copper. I did have a piece of brass plate but it was a nice large circle which I was a bit loath to cut up. I thought I would have a go at casting one, using scrap brass. The drawback with this idea was that my old furnace had just about reached it’s use by date, and while it could still handle aluminium, brass was asking too much. So I set about making a new one.

Here a suitable piece of pipe is being lined with refractory cement cast around a plastic bucket.

The lid is cast on the bench, inside a steel band with pvc pipe forming the exhaust hole. The finished furnace is on the right. I have cannibalised the lid lifting mechanism from the old furnace.

Since writing the above I have fired up the furnace but without success. I just can’t get enough heat out of my lpg burner. So I will need to make another one. But that won’t happen for a while because we are off to Sicily for three weeks.

We’re back from Sicily now, I wrote the above before we went but forgot to put it up.I have made the burner and it works well.


Here is the result – the brass baseplate.



Vale Paul Cox

Paul Cox died last Sunday. Although I only knew him  for a short time, he was a huge inspiration to me. In his approach to his work, his outlook on life and art and in so many other ways, he was an affirmation to me . I was honoured by the way he presented my work in Force of Destiny, which unfortunately turned out to have been his last film.

trevor prest studio 009 em