I was at LTUE in March of 2017, when I bumped into Isaac Stewart. He asked if I might be interested in sculpting the logo for Dragonsteel Entertainment, Brandon Sanderson's production company. I of course was super interested. I had met Brandon several times before at various writing conferences. In fact, he was the first professional author I had ever met. I ran into him and David Farland (Wolverton) at a Barnes & Noble in Layton, Utah many years ago when he was on his original Mistborn tour.
Even though I was acquainted, I had never actually read any of Brandon's books. So after taking on the project, I decided I had better get started. I don't have time to do a ton of reading as I own a software company, and I can only sculpt in my spare time when I am not busy with my family. But I listen to audible on my way to and from my office each day. So I purchased the original Mistborn trilogy and started listening.
I didn't have any idea what I was in for. I loved all three Mistborn books. I liked how thought provoking they were, and how they delved into faith and religion. The books became more and more epic as they went, and I knew Brandon's books would now rank among my favorites of all time.
Of course I went on to read the next trilogy with Wax and Wayne. Awesome as well. Loved every bit. Now I have gone on to the Stormlight Archive, and the story of Kaladin, Dalinar Kholin, Jasnah and Shallan. I got hooked on that series as well, and am now listening to Oathbringer.
After looking into Brandon's novels and becoming a full fledged fan of his work, I felt much more qualified to capture the spirit of the Dragonsteel logo. This sculpture came together quickly because it was in relief (flat). But there ended up being a ton of detail at the end. Also, this was the first time I had built in an LED backlight, so that was super awesome.
And I would be ungrateful if I didn't thank Brandon, Emily, Issac, Kara, Adam and the rest of the folks at Dragonsteel. They were so gracious and hospitable during this process. What great people.
From Clay to Bronze
I'll go through the steps to create the Dragonsteel Logo Sculpture one by one so that you can appreciate the work that goes into a lost wax bronze casting. As you'll see, there are many people involved that use expensive and at times, dangerous equipment. You may click on the images below for a larger view and description.
Step 1: Design
I was given a reference design for the Dragonsteel logo. I printed this out and traced the outlines in pencil. I played around a bit with the design. Then I sculpted a 1 hour mockup, just as a proof of concept. And yes, that's my iPad Pro underneath. It makes a nice sculpture stand in a pinch.
Step 2: Roughing In the Form
Because this sculpture ended up being done in relief (flat), it didn't require any armature. I traced the logo in Adobe Illustrator, then printed it out at the right size. Then I pressed the clay directly on the paper. For this first version of the sculpture, I matched the logo exactly. If it had stayed like this, it would have been anchored to the wall in separate pieces.
Step 3: Detailing the Form
I worked with Isaac at Dragonsteel to get a final design. Then I detailed it heavily. In the second photo, I took off the horn to better get at the sword details.
Step 4: Flexible Silicone Mold
After the clay sculpture is complete, it is ready to be molded. The first step in molding is to apply a flexible silicone rubber mold to capture all the details. During this stage, the strategy for molding is agreed upon and if the sculpture needs to be cut apart, it is done here. Molding a clay sculpture typically ruins it, so for this reason most sculptors contract this out to someone who does it for a living. If you have one shot to get it right, you make the most of it.