In January 2011, the Big Blue Mascot of Old Dominion University won the best in competition with 15 other mascots from various other schools such as Oregon, LSU, and Ohio State. This started intense interest within the student body, faculty, and management of ODU to create a statue to honor Big Blue.
In the spring of 2012, quite out of the Big Blue, Joshua Darr from the office of Student Engagement contacted me to discuss our interest in producing a bronze statue of Big Blue. After a few meetings we agreed on a statue of approximately 6 foot tall. After much thought it seemed to us that that six foot size would not have the impact desired. The management of ODU fortunately agreed. A larger size of 7 foot 3 inches was agreed upon, which is the actual size of Big Blue.
This extra size presented some problems with accessibility to the model as it slowly grew. There was much more ladder and platform work around the model. Sculpting Big Blue was in some ways like sculpting a baby, everything was round and had few reference points. To minimize problems sculpting, we had the Big Blue mascot model for a photo shoot and then we came up with a plan to surround the armature/model with five full size, 7 ft-3 inch, photographic copies of the mascot. Each photograph was from a different angle. We hung each at an exact spot on the circle around the armature /model stand. The armature/model of BB was bolted to a 50” square plywood base that was mounted on a 36” diameter ball bearing. The plywood was marked with lines emanating from the center of the board, much like a sundial. Each of these lines would coincide with a mark placed on each of the photographs that were hung around the circle. It was essential to rotate the line on the sculpture stand with the exact spot on the photograph to get a true profile of the mascot photograph at that angle. The process was slow; add a little clay to the model, turn the stand, get everything lined up with the spot on the photo, add a little clay, repeat, again and again. If we worked carefully we could work with confidence and no mistakes. We, and more importantly ODU, loved the model clay image.