Rainy summer days in northern Wisconsin during the late fifties and sixties brought out the "clay table." Living on the lake meant Surges sibling rivalry centered around who could sculpt the most elaborate boats and docks - and sometimes, who wrecked what. In those days, bakeable clay was yet to be. Only years later were we all to appreciate the brilliance of this maternal "guidance."
That appreciation was born of the slow realization that perhaps one might actually make a career of this nonsense. For this particular sibling, it began (concurrent with an attempt at Physics, Film and several other "majors,") with a claymation called "At the Movies." The neat thing about claymation, besides utilizing sculpting skills, is that it costs practically nothing.
"At the Movies" won a dozen regional, national and international awards, and garnered a real, bona fide job with a Hollywood production company --- North Hollywood anyway.
Perchance meetings can change a life. Mine happened when Mark Siegel, a kind and generous soul, took a nobody from Wisconsin under his wing in 1979 to sculpt a set of pieces for Universal Studios Tours' Castle Dracula. Not only did this cement a freelance-only career (not to mention a lasting friendship), but it also provided an introduction to the obscure field of audio-animatronics character sculpting. At the time, the field was wide open - mostly because it was new. The heyday lasted a decade, and included the Conan the Barbarian set, parts of the ET ride, and the King Kong ride - all for Universal Studios Tours.
This decade was also the heyday of special makeup effects, and a movie project here and there filled in gaps between the messier robotics projects. "The Thing," "Twilight Zone the Movie," "Beetljuice," "Harry and the Hendersons," and a few others provided a nice diversion from the body-wrecking production of urethane foam behemoths. The huge influx of technicians into the makeup effects industry was ultimately self-destructive for many artists, and the glut forced a later broadening of horizons for everyone. Having dabbled in miniatures for a varied clientele all through the 80's, now came in handy.
My personal shift toward smaller-scale work became more and more synergistic with a growing desire to move the family back to Wisconsin. Miniatures can be easily shipped, so a remote career, although scary, was at least feasible. Actually, it flourished.
Now, with the ability to provide real-time images of work-in-progress via email, the process of providing just what a client wants is painless and more exacting.
Surges Sculpting and Design
Phone 715 490 1294 ----------Fax 715 477 2929
Copyright © 2005 Carl Surges