Interested in purchasing the small bronze version of Sgt Reckless? CLICK HERE!
Welcome to the amazing story of an amazing heroine of the Korean War… the REAL War Horse, SSgt Reckless. You are invited here to share in the unfolding of the SSgt Reckless Monument Project, as seen through the eyes of the artist, and the photographs of many. There are approximately 80 photos on this page showing the making of the monument from the first miniature (maquette) to the finished life size monument sculpture. This page is dedicated to the Marines and includes the installation and dedication of the monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia in July 2013.
Interested in the official biography of Sgt Reckless? CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK.
The book was written by Robin Hutton and was released in August 2014. It quickly made the New York Times Bestseller list! (Congratulations, Robin!) . Robin commissioned me to sculpt the monument. She has spent years gathering information from those who served with Reckless, and the book includes the making of the monument.
MEDIA COVERAGE: The installation was covered by ABC, CBS and CSpan 3!
It all starts with vision, and a wire armature of a miniature version of the future monument.
The warm oil-based clay goes on quickly and smoothly
Forming the head and tail to begin developing movement
Introducing a base design… Woops. Didn’t like it. Not enough angle of ascent, and too solid under her hooves. After approval of the maquette, a mold is made and through the ‘lost wax method’, a bronze casting is made. It is necessary to cast this ‘maquette’ in multiple pieces to get a clean and detailed replica of the original clay sculpture.
The miniature (maquette), was first cast in bronze as the ‘naked’ version. Reckless will be fitted with tack and ammunition for the monument design.
Michael welds her together, filling in plug holes and retexturing the weld lines.
The raw bronze assembled and polished, before the patina (color) is applied
With a torch and application of chemicals, the color is developed and then sealed with a marine-grade lacquer.
A better angle to depict the struggle she had carrying the weight up steep hills. I decided on a simple non-bulky base under her hooves, to form a bit of a ‘precipice’, as she was truly living on the edge with each step. She carried thousands of pounds of ammunition over war torn ground; littered with live and detonated debris from various artillery.
To make the miniature sculpture of Reckless (maquette) with her tack and ammo, I had a resin replica poured out of the same mold the foundry used to cast the naked version of Reckless. The resin is hard and will not gouge or mar during the sculpting of the delicate straps and buckles. I used a combination of wooden dowel and brass tubing for the canisters. The dowel fit perfectly inside the tube and allowed me to taper and contour the end caps.
This is a diagram submitted to the museum of the projected monument size. The footprint of the pedestal had to fit within a 3′ cube, her height and length could not exceed 10′.
Through the magic of technology (is that such a thing?), the maquette is scanned three dimensionally and the numbers are plugged into a program for the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mill. Once the final size of the monument has been determined, large pieces of foam are milled to shape and then assembled.
The foam is cut to size, but only has rudimentary details. It’s my job to sand and refine the surface to bring in the muscle and definition.
The foam weighs next to nothing, and I assemble her initially with simple bamboo skewers and roofing staples
Of course the cat cannot resist inspection (OK… I put her up there, but she seemed to appreciate her new vantage point.)
Muscle, veins and joints.
Once the detail is laid in on the foam, I can start the application of clay. It is tempting to rush this part of the project, as after weeks of sanding and refining, I’m tired of looking at a blue horse and I’m ready to see Reckless.
Robin takes a flight to our island to take part in the ‘hands-on’ aspects of the project. She now officially claims this as” her tail”! Well earned, Robin!
Kind of odd to see her head attached to a board, but I could flip that board around at all angles and work on all aspects of her head that would be seen long after I am gone.
We even took her head on the road to a couple of shows, and got some quality time in on the clay while Michael talked to the show patrons.
A toast with Harold Wadley’s plum wine…to a few hard days in the shop before Robin heads back to California. Thanks Robin, you were a shot in the arm.
A highlight of the project, Harold located a packsaddle similar to what Reckless used. He then carefully created some mock canisters and then lashed them on as he remembers her being tied in Korea during her hard service. This saddle was absolutely invaluable during the sculpting, as few photos showed the extensive detail needed for the project. Of course the next obstacle was how to fabricate a horse to cinch it to…a thrift store blanket over a bag of packing peanuts!
Our local friend and amazing farrier, Tom Carter. He came by to inspect her hooves and gave pointers on the shoes that she likely wore in service. From the photos, he determined that she had a protective ‘toe clip’ in the front of the shoe, and advised me of the difference in the shape of her front shoes compared to her back shoes. Thanks, Tom!