Client: Steve Lauer
Location: Lake Forest, IL, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $150,000
Dan Shaughnessy IV
The Giraffe Project was a privately commissioned sculpture for the clients estate. The idea behind the sculptures was to create life-like giraffes from Stainless Steel for the clients 50th wedding anniversary. These structures contain thousands of stainless pieces that are cladded over the form of the giraffe. It was requested that the sculptures be realistic in size and form as well as light and ethereal; to not take away from the view of the estate. Well before I met the client, he was adamant on having an artist fabricate an 18ft and 7ft giraffe to be installed in his front lawn for his 50th anniversary. He spent over 6 months doing research for possible artists in the Mid – West Area that fit the criteria. After he had a list of over 15 well known artists, he began interviewing each artist for their ideas / proposal. Once all the interviews were completed, I was fortunately selected.
One of the main goals for the project was to create the realistic shape of a baby / adult giraffe as well as make it feel light and airy. The client was insistent that the sculpture not thwart the view of his estate. I designed a latticework pattern with thousands of stainless steel pieces that generate the shell of a giraffe.
One of the main reasons I was selected for the project was on the promise of my artistic style with stainless steel and obsession with the details. As you can see below, I use a steel frame technique to capture the true form of these giraffes. After the steel frame is finished, I roll, cut, and weld thousands of stainless steel pieces to small patterns then begin to use a stump - hammer technique to form each individual piece for it’s exact location on the sculpture. For the heads of these sculptures, I use a sperate technique to create a dense pattern that is able to capture all the contours of a giraffes head. After each individual piece is welded on the giraffe, I slowly cut the structure in half, remove the interior steel frame, then gradually put the stainless steel shell together. Once the shell is completely structural, I grind into the surface of the material, creating a flat surface that shines like a gem in the sunlight.
The project was a 50th Anniversary present for the clients wife. It was a completely secretive project for over a year. The client spent 6 months looking for artists and one of the main requirements was the project had to be 100% secret. Over the period of the project, the client would meet in secret at the studio to check progress / plan the future. On the day of his 50th Anniversary, he left for Italy with his wife. The day after my team and I installed the 18ft and 7ft giraffes in front of his house. Once the vacation was over, the client was able to surprise his wife when they arrived at home from the airport.