Gorilla, Revealed!

OAGAAG Once A Gorilla, Always A Gorilla10/11, 12:13, 2014 

There’s nothing quite like keeping a 2500 lb Gorilla a secret over the course of a year. Pittsburg State University unveiled a 1.5 times life-size bronze Gorilla by Tom on 10/11 at precisely 12:13 p.m. prior to their 2014 Homecoming game. As the centerpiece for the new Champions Plaza, the Gorilla will serve as the greeter at the stadium for football players and guests alike. A new tradition of tapping the Gorilla’s extended hand was initiated for the Homecoming game on Saturday by the players. Please enjoy this pictorial journey from Tom’s studio to the Gorilla’s new home at PSU

The Gorilla was a complete surprise until the unveiling where hundreds gathered to witness the event
The first sketch that served as the inspiration for the sculpture-to-be
Tom visited the Kansas City Zoo to photograph the silverback gorillas. These photos, along with a plethora of anatomy books and reference materials, helped Tom capture the essence of a true-to-life gorilla
Beginning with an armature and an oil based clay, Tom began working on the maquette (study)
The finished maquette is a 14″H study of a benevolent but strong-willed gorilla
Sean Putney, Head Zookeeper at KC Zoo, advised Tom and provided valuable feedback
Foam core board models were brought to the stadium to determine proper scale and placement for maximum impact within the environment
The clay maquette was delivered to The Crucible Foundry in Norman, Oklahoma, where it was molded and cast in bronze. The 14″ bronze was then computer-scanned and enlarged in foam to 1.5 times life-size and sprayed with liquid clay. Tom traveled to Norman, spending a week detailing the surface and applying the finished texture
The finished clay
The clay-covered foam sculpture was molded and cast in bronze. The segments were then welded together
All the seams were chased and the surface sandblasted to prepare the piece for the final step, patina (right)
At the crack of dawn, the Gorilla was delivered to the installation site well before students descended on campus
A satin sheath surrounds the bronze. Tom and PSU President Steve Scott await the unveiling

VIEW VIDEO Gorilla Unveiling


Following the reveal, players tap the hand of the Gorilla before heading into the stadium. A new tradition has been set in place
Tom was asked to perform the coin toss (left) and was presented a signed football at half-time (right)
The Gorilla is HOME!