For sculptor Alan Osborne, it all started with a schoolboy crush on a fifth-grade teacher with a blowtorch. Her hobby was making enameled jewelry, and she taught the craft to her students.
“Of course, I fell in love with her, the heat and the enameling,” says Osborne who, for the past 12 years, has owned The Art Foundry & Gallery at 10th and R streets. The sprawling venue houses multiple galleries, including his own, along with a workshop where he and his staff cast bronze artwork for other artists.
Now 60, Osborne has worked with molten metals since returning from the Vietnam War at 19 and earning his art degree from Seattle University. He sculpts his pieces in wax, creates ceramic molds for them, then melts and pours the mainly copper alloy at close to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the metal sets, the outer shell is chiseled off and Osborne applies the patina; he has increasingly incorporated enamels in recent years. He loves the interplay between the mediums. “I like the malleability of the wax, and that fluidity is also expressed in the bronze,” he explains. “The patina helps to restate that expression.”
Osborne’s designs range from table-top figures to mammoth public and private art commissions, such as the 21-foot-tall sculpture he installed this past summer in a high-rise at 1201 K St. Titled “Ascending,” the cantilevered project is composed of 50 separate pieces that came together for the first time in the building’s lobby, not in the studio beforehand. “I love that creative spontaneity,” he says.
Other public works can be seen near and far: the Sunrise light rail station, the Oakland Museum and at the government buildings of the South Pacific Island nation of Samoa.
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