No lie: That’s a nose

By Lisa Britton/For the Baker City Herald June 06, 2012 09:31 am

Lisa Britton/For the Baker City Herald Andrew Gettle guides Pinocchio’s head, which is suspended by a forklift, onto the body.
Lisa Britton/For the Baker City Herald Andrew Gettle guides Pinocchio’s head, which is suspended by a forklift, onto the body.
By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

He looks like he will walk at any moment — his arms ready to swing and his back foot starting to lift for a step.

If he did suddenly come to life, if that long nose started to grow ... 

Well, the latter might appropriate, since he is Pinocchio.

The statue, measuring 30 feet in height, was set up Monday at Blue Mountain Fine Art for approval by artist Jim Dine.

This Pinocchio has been carved from a dense foam, and will be used to make a bronze statue.

“We’ve made it so it breaks into pieces,” said Tyler Fouts, who owns the bronze foundry in Baker City.

The original design by Dine was sent to a company in California, which used digital technology to carve the foam into the 30-foot version.

The next step is to apply plaster over the foam, which covers the cracks and creates texture.

“It won’t look like foam when we’re done,” Fouts said.

Then comes a coat of rubber to make a mold.

Monday was the last time Pinocchio will be whole for about a year.

For the bronzing process, the statue will be in pieces — 50 to 75 pieces, Fouts said.

The reason is weight — each section must be small enough for the workers to lift as it goes through the steps from foam to bronze, which will take nearly a year.

After the rubber layer is finished, it will be painted with wax, and affixed with wax rods that will create channels for the molten metal.

The wax replica is then dipped into a ceramic liquid and coated with sand. This dipping and sanding is repeated again and again.

Then the ceramic shell is placed in a hot kiln to burn out the wax, making room for the liquid bronze.

After the metal is poured and cooled, the ceramic case is removed and workers begin reworking the metal to create the work designed by the artist.

The final step is applying color.

“It’s a long process,” Fouts said.

Throughout the steps, the artist will come to Baker City several times to approve the work.

Pinocchio is scheduled to be finished next spring. 

Pinocchio’s final destination is South Korea. Fouts and Dine’s assistant will go over to bolt the pieces in place and weld it together.

It must be disassembled to fit in a shipping container.

“The arms will be left off, and possibly a leg,” Fouts said. “Hopefully his nose can stay on.”

The statue will be hollow, the bronze about a quarter-inch thick. An engineer will design a “skeleton” of stainless steel to give the structure stability.

“It has to flex, otherwise it’ll crack,” Jack Isaacs said of the bronze.

Fouts estimates the finished bronze will weigh nearly 6,000 pounds.

And next spring, keep an eye on the lot of Blue Mountain Fine Art on Auburn Avenue just west of the railroad tracks — you might just see a towering, bronze Pinocchio smiling back.