Roger Paradis

Roger Paradis was born in 1937 and raised on a farm in Val Marie, Saskatchewan. Now retired and living in Edmonton, Alberta, Roger launched his self-taught artistic career approximately 11 years ago in 1990. As a child and adult, he enjoyed drawing and, upon retirement from the construction industry, wanted to combine his love for drawing with his skill at building with his hands. Sculpture was the perfect answer. He began sculpting in wood but since it did not give him the flexibility to create to his full potential, he switched to clay. As a new artist, he won first and second prizes in the Creative Living Handicrafts division at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Soon it became a full time passion and in no time his sculptures were well received, bronzed and placed in galleries.

Roger has always had a great appreciation for the First Nations people and has done several outstanding native portrait pieces, of which several large pieces are clay originals and have never been bronzed. His knowledge of cattle and horses and his love of wildlife are truly reflected in his sculptures.

Roger's creative process begins with an idea and a lot of clay. He researches his subjects and may work for months perfecting a clay sculpture. The sculpture begins with a wood base frame in which he inserts two metal rods to hold his sculpture. The clay is applied, worked and reworked until the sculpture is of the desired dimensions. The details are created and refined, taking special care with oil and heat to achieve a smooth finish. The piece is then delivered to the foundry for casting.

Roger's pieces are cast using the Lost Wax Method. This dates back at least 6,000 years to ancient Greek, Roman and Near East cultures. It was not until the late 1800's that any bronze casting was done in North America.

At the foundry, many steps are needed to complete a bronze sculpture from clay. First, the piece is painted with many coats of flexible rubber. Parts of the sculpture may have to be cut off (such as the legs and horns) and a separate mold is required for each of these pieces. A plaster shell is placed around the rubber coating and is allowed to dry. Once the mold is dry, it is removed from the original clay sculpture and is now ready for use-tied together and wax poured inside. Once poured, the wax sculpture is removed from the mold and cleaned. Parts such as horns and legs are put back on the main wax sculpture. Wax rods are attached to the wax sculpture which in turn leads to a wax funnel. This allows the bronze to be poured into the piece later and allows gas to escape. The wax sculpture is then dipped into a ceramic shell slurry several times; ceramic sand is applied to build the shell thickness and is then placed in a burnout furnace and fired to 1800 degrees. This hardens the ceramic shell and melts and burns out the wax. The hot ceramic mold is placed in a sand box.

Meanwhile, bronze bars are melted in another furnace to approximately 2000 degrees, and then poured into the hot ceramic mold, filling the mold and rods. When the metal cools, the ceramic shell is chipped and sandblasted away and the metal rods and funnel are cut away. The sculpture is then sandblasted, repaired, cleaned and parts, such as reins or ropes, are welded on. The bronze is then given a patina (or colours) with mild chemicals and heat. Applying wax to the warm bronze seals the colour. Lastly, after the piece cools, it is polished and mounted to a base.

Roger's bronze pieces are Limited Editions and, due to the creative process of each bronze sculpture, no two pieces can be identical, thus giving each its individual value. From its beginnings as a clay work of art to its completion as a bronze, the time and skill to create a sculpture is remarkable.

His artwork is represented by Rowles & Company Ltd., Alberta's Corporate Gift & Art Gallery in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


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