Ross Straight, Artist

Miners Memorial Project Philippi, WV

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Final with patina 2/09/09

click photo for close-up view of the memorial

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Winning design

The Philippi Miners Memorial was conceived after the Sago mine disaster January 2, 06 Sago, West Virginia. Four of the twelve men who died were from Philippi and Barbour County. The design is meant to evoke the feeling of being with the miners, underground awaiting rescue. The figures are placed according to a general description of how the men at Sago were found, but are not intended to necessarily represent specific men. One man stands to pray, others reassure each other, and still others search inward for comfort.

 

The images will be produced in bronze and placed in a two inch recess on African black granite and will stand 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide by 18 inches deep. Though the Sago Mine disaster was the inspiration, this monument is meant to honor all miners.

 

To start the process of creating a bronze, I first create the original relief sculpture in non-drying clay.  The clay will be covered with a liquid rubber mold which is then covered by a stiff mold of plastic or plaster.  After removing the mold from the clay,  I will paint hot wax in the mold and build it up until the wax is about a inch thick. I will then go over the wax making corrections and adding fine details before taking it to the foundry. There it will be cut into smaller parts to be attached to wax bars that create a spout to pour the bronze in later. The wax is then covered by ceramic slurry that hardens around it.

 

Next, this is put into a furnace where the wax is melted and burnt away. While the ceramic shell (now hollow) is still hot it is removed from the furnace and put into a container and surrounded by hot sand to support the shell. This whole set up is placed under a crucible of molten bronze. The bronze is poured to over flowing and as it cools and contracts it cracks the shell which then has to be removed with chisels and sand blasters. The pouring spouts are cut off and ground away. The pieces are welded back together, the welds ground down and the surface retextured to match the surrounding area. After cleaning, the sculpture is heated and chemicals are applied to give it its final color or patina. After a protective finish is applied it is ready to be mounted on the granite base. The granite will be affixed to a concrete slab in Philippi, West Virginia.

The unveiling of "Phase One"
of the
Miners Memorial
Barbour County
Courthouse Square
May 21, 2009

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The veiled memorial

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WV Governor Joe Manchin

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Ross with Richwood Investment Castings Geoff Stoll and George Houston

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The miners' families with the Governor

  

The Barbour County Commission generously secured grant money to pay for the bronze but money for the granite is still needed. Please send your donation for the Sago/MIner Memorial to:

 
     SAGO/MINER/Memorial Fund
     First Central Bank
     PO Box 340
     2 S. Main Street
     Philippi, WV 26416
 
For futher information, contact
Tammy Stemple
457-3700 ext.226
 
Philippi Main Street Project
108 North Main Street
Philippi WV 26416

Click here to read the Charleston Gazette Coal Tattoo Blog entry.

Click here for link to Metro News WV interview and photos of unveiling of bronze 5/21/2009 (then click on red print above the photo of the Governor for Ross' interview)

Click here for WBOY TV article and video of broadscast story of unveiling of bronze 5/21/2009

Click here for link to the 2/27/2006 WBOY story about the Memorial.

Click here for link to the 2/27/2006 KDKA/AP story about the Memorial.

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#1 Platform setup.

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#4 Adding second miner

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#6 Beginning third miner.

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#8

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#10

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#12 7/17

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#14 7/28/07

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rubber mold for wax

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Bronze Section 1 as comes from foundry 11/08

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Bronze with ceramic shell off, still in pieces 11/08

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11/08

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welding pieces together 11/08

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chasing with grinders

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abrasive tent

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welding hanger bolts

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ready for patina

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Patination 2/09

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#2 Screws for supporting the clay and to mark varying depths of the clay.

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#3 Background and foreground miner are "roughed in."

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#5 Refining Miner No. 1

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#7 Completing design

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#9 Adding fourth miner

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#11 7/28/07

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#13 7/27/07

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Applying rubber for mold

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Wax ready to go to foundry

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Bronze Section 2 as comes from foundry 11/08

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Bronze at foundry- Richwood Industries in Huntington11/08

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welding 11/08

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final weld

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shop set up for chasing

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chisels

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texturing weld

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final sandblasting with slag

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Final with patina 02/09/09

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