Raptor Project

Raptor in fog

Raptor in fog 2014

It’s gonna be big, it’s gonna move and it’s gonna look great.

Officially, the mission I chose to accept is : “Raptor: The Spirit of the South”,  a movable, 10-foot to 15-foot tall and 5-foot to 6-foot wide, sculpture made of brass rods, sheet copper and stained glass.

Here are some videos of my progress, so far:

“Last Slab”

Watch Charlie build a 21-slab granite base topped with a four-foot glass-and-brass bird.

“Bird Meets Frame”

Placing a four-foot-long stained-glass and brass bird body on a 15-foot copper frame, mounted on a homemade granite base is surprisingly tricky.

Here’s the model, my first raptor:


In 2009, when I applied to a Chattanooga nonprofit, CreateHere, for a MakeWork grant (which I received, partially), I said it this way: “I will create the sculpture using a method I invented a decade ago. Using solder and foil, I attach hand-cut stained glass and hand-shaped copper pieces to hand-bent brass rods. I engineer the piece carefully to both bear the weight of the glass and copper on the rods, then balance the structure to allow forces of nature to interact with the work, suggesting the energy and motion always present in the world.

“I intend to stretch the edge of my creative envelope. I will focus all I have taught myself about working with brass, glass, and copper over 30 years on the creation of a large, self-supporting structure. My goal is to construct a piece that makes viewers’ minds soar while conveying the natural world’s beauty and omnipresent energy. As a hang gliding pilot for 25 years, the work speaks of my feelings on flying, wing to wing, with hawks, falcons and eagles. It conveys my soaring experiences in the natural beauty of the region.”

Well, anyway, that’s what I wrote in the grant. Another way to put it is: this project will use all my knowledge and experience of putting stuff together. I’ve never put anything together like this before; it reminds me of when I used to build ultralights—that was certainly interesting.

A  half-year of shopping, collecting, scrounging, and begging later, I’ve gotten all the supplies together (about $3,000 worth) and built a workbench in the garage. OK, so the Mercedes temporarily lost its home, Kathy’s path to the freezer is longer and trickier (stepping over the electrical cords, squeezing between the table and power saw), but I can’t wait to see a big bird that looks kind of like the little bird take shape.