Building the Statue

Here are the details of the production process that David Adickes used to combine artistry with engineering and complete the concrete and steel work.

From the Ground Up
Illustration of a human model next to a plaster model

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.

Illustration of a measuring tool being used on a plaster model
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.
Illustration of a measuring tool and a graph
Measurements 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.
Illustration of an outlined boot prints on a gridded floor
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"
Illustration showing the framework of a large boot
Building 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.
Illustration of two men covering the framework of a large boot with mesh
Steel 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.
Illustration of the layering of materials
Concrete 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
Illustration of a measuring tool being used on a plaster model head
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.
Illustration of a man marking a styrofoam model 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.
Illustration of a man pouring rubber over a model head
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.
Illustration of a man working on a rubber mold of a face
The 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
Illustration of various parts of a statue around a large base
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.
Illustration of a crane assembling pieces of a statue
Body 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.

The 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 night.

*Note: The information above is posted with permission from the Dallas Morning News. Graphics and text by Lon Tweeten. Source: David Adickes.