Here are the details of the production process that David Adickes used to combine artistry with engineering and complete the concrete and steel work.
Note: Reprinted with permission of the Dallas Morning News. Graphics and text by Lori Tweeten. Source by David Adickes.
From the Ground Up
A life-size plaster model of the body is fashioned from a human model, the head sculpted from photos of Houston. This model is a three-dimensional template for the statue.
The statue is built in several sections based on measurements from the original sculpture. A contour measuring device traces the horizontal perimeter of the template.
are plotted on graph paper with a one-inch grid. The graph is then
enlarged and transposed to a 10-inch grid. This 10-times size is the
final scale of the statue.
The paper grids are placed on a warehouse floor and horizontal rings of steel are custom cut to match the grids. The rings are then joined together to create the statue's "skeleton"
up, the x and y grid measurements are plotted at successive heights. A
skeletal model of these braces is built with wood, then steel beams are
cut to size to replace the wood.
wire mesh is welded to the frame using the same x and y measuring
techniques. While the steel frame is used mostly for support, the wire
mesh forms the underlying shape.
is smoothed on both sides of the wire mesh, followed by a fiberglass
mash for crack protection. White concrete is used for the final two
layers. Clear rubberized sealant waterproofs the statue. This process is
used for all body parts except the head.
To the Top
For better detail in the hair and face, a mold of the head must be cast. The process begins with the same contouring and graphing taken from a life-size plaster head.
Graph measurements are plotted five-times size to a styrofoam replica. That replica is doubled to another foam model. The two-step process preserves detail with less distortion.
This head is split into three manageable pieces. Rubber is poured over each, hardened, reinforced with wire mesh, peeled away and used as a mold.
casting process is done in reverse of the body. Fine white concrete is
pasted in first, followed by fiberglass mesh, then concrete and wire
mesh and the steel frame structure.
Putting It All Together
The completed body parts are fastened together at the site, where a concrete base is poured with 3 steel tubes protruding; these anchor the body through the legs and cane.
parts are stacked from the bottom with giant cranes and welded to the
steel tubes. Seams are patched with concrete. The completed statue was
unveiled October 22, 1994.
Statue is visible for 6 1/2 miles traveling North from Houston and less
than 1 mile coming from Dallas. Floodlights illuminate the statue at