Bronze Head Molds

My parents drove down the peninsula from San Francisco for dinner
last night, as they often do on Sundays. John cooked a wonderful
Italian stew (see the December 2006 issue of
magazine for the recipe) and steamed artichokes. Paul helped by
peeling potatoes, zesting lemons, and being the Sous Chef. We all enjoyed the
evening until it was time for them to go. Then the parents mentioned that
they had a few things to bring in from the car.

What they had in the car was five large plaster and rubber molds for
bronze heads that my parents decided I wanted to store. This is the
downside to having an artist in the family. My mother is Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson, retired Professor of Life Drawing from the California
College of the Arts (CCA). CCA was the California College of Arts and
Crafts (CCAC) when she started teaching there.

She is best known for her line drawings and paintings but artists like
to try new media and about thirty years ago, my mother was working in bronze.
She created two portrait heads: one of the model Lillian and the other of
my father, Wade. Four of the plaster molds go with the Lillian and
Wade bronzes. I was in college at the time but I remember that my
younger brother Peter made good money polishing Wade’s bronze head.

Here is my mother’s bust of my father and a photo of Wade about that time:

1972 Wade,
photo: copyright 1972 Eleanor Dickinson

1976 bronze head of Wade,
photo: copyright 1976 Eleanor Dickinson

The fifth mold is smaller and if you fold back the black rubber you can
see that it is of just a face, not a whole head. This one was sculpted
as a life mask of my mother by her friend
Ruth Asawa. Ruth made a fired red
clay face mask as well as the bronze face itself. My mother said that
Ruth was using all of her friends as models for a show of bronze faces.
You can see Ruth Asawa’s current work at

The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air
18 November 2006 — 28 January 2007, at the de Young Museum in
San Francisco.

All I can think to do is to buy some big plastic storage boxes and
put the molds in my basement. Maybe some day someone will want to make more…

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