Unloading from kiln the panels for Rider Transit. Next week mounting and get ready for installtion.

 First panels unloaded from kiln to later be ready for installation in March.

 The numbered tiles are checked with the photo that has the location catalog.

First panel unloaded from kiln and laid on plywood which will be cut to fit and tiles glued on to the wood


Drawing for mermaid.

Drawing to be sent to Zislander for approval for up coming new commission.





Culver Franchising System, Inc; Sandhill cranes (3 panels)

Completed panel that will be placed on the far left side of a 22 foot wall in the board room near the window. The projected date of installation is Feb.7. The following panels will continue to the right in different heights.  

These two panels are presently in wet clay on the easel; and today they will be cut down, hollowed out, and in couple months will join the first one in Prairie du Sac in about 3 months.



The first and completed panel is readied for installation. Routed out the back to make way for 3/4" molding so it has space for molding to pass through the back of the panel.


There is still space for the two more upcoming panels. One at a lower level near the middle and the other on the far right on the similar level with the existing relief.

Coloring one of the panels to ready it for firing.






Rider Transit Center Art Project




 The models or marquettes are made from Sculpey a polyform product. After sculpting the model is placed on a baking pan and baked at 275degree Fahrenheit for about 15minutes depending on thickness. I then color the model with permanent pens and blend with spray lacquer.  I originally chose spaces that I thought would be complementary to the theme i.e., a horizontal format for the train etc., which I changed because the client wants the imagery to be in chronological order (oldest to newest) from left to right. Which I agree too, but each image will change slightly because this order requires a different format for some of the images. Another detail involves surface finish. The horse theme I left with a looser surface, where-as the buses and train require a more groomed surface to relate to the subject.


The clay body I use:

Hathorn Bond fire clay                        66            pounds

Tenn ball Clay                                     33              “

Feldspar                                              5                “

Sawdust                                              2 1/3       gallons

Pearlite                                                2 1/                “

Nylon Fiber                                          one pinch to the mix

Water                                                  27 to 32 pounds

When fired to around 2340 Fahrenheit the shrinkage is 13.6 % as an example 60” has to be 68” at the wet stage to shrink down after firing to 60”.  So when sculpting, I visually account for the reduction in scale, (nine feet becomes just under eight feet). After the client approves the image at the wet stage, I cut it into pieces along the contours on a complementary random pattern that becomes part of the design. How I divide the mural is important in making certain that the size and shape create a surface rhythm than helps in the overall design.  When cutting the mural down every piece is numbered on the left side and inventoried before placed back in order on the floor.  After the mural is totally down, each piece is taken one at a time, placed face down on a thick piece of foam and hollowed out to reduce weight. 

When reduced of its weight, it is returned to the floor, placed tightly with other pieces then re-sculpted. Re-sculpting refines details. Depending on the size of the mural and how dry the environment is, in a month the mural will be dry enough for the joints to be sanded, the surface cleaned and the entire piece to be sprayed with a thin coat of porcelain slip to whiten the surface to ready it for coloring. The white slip blocks out the color of the clay so I can control the outcome when fired.

 The white porcelain is:

Kaolin                                                   680            grams

Feldspar                                                340               “

Flint                                                      340              “

Bentonite                                              68               “

Zircopax                                                572             “

Let soak over night before use, then blend and sieve.


Some times depending on the subject I do not use the porcelain so the monochromatic tones of the clay come through, only staining to accent detail.


Using Sculpey, I create a small representation of the final image.

Horse drawn bus wagon before baked and colored with permanent pens and finished with lacquer.Horse image colored and mounted on foam board.

Drawing for first image.Train with Concord depot in background.

Drawing of train.
Bus with mill in background.

Drawing for the bus.

Trolly in downtown Concord, NC.Drawing for Trolly.

Pioneer days of bus transit.

Drawing of a early bus in front of girls school.

Studio drawing of the location and size of the panels. This is the studio draft with notes.

Bruce Howdle

Artist’s Statement

Public Art – Rider Transit Center



I have chosen modes of transportation as the main theme of a Rider Transit Center mural. Modes of transportation are part of the heritage of an area. The mural starts from the late 1800’s with trolley, wagon, and a train at Concord’s depot, and continues forward to an early bus representing the bus transit system started in 1941 in Kannapolis.  In the top panels I show a trolley in the streets of Concord. Off to the right a skyline of the mill in Kannapolis is used as background for an early horse drawn bus. The lower panel reminds us of twentieth century trains and buses. 


The culture of a community is built from the human history, ecology and natural history unique to the area. The images I selected clearly highlight the spirit of innovation and progress so characteristic of the area. In response to the ecologically responsible design of the building the use of clay will create interior embellishment that are timeless and will be as fresh and interesting decades from now as they are today. People of all ages and walks of life can identify with these ideas and feel comfortable with the material.  By focusing on the heritage of public transit in the mural, I am also alluding to the benefits that have accrued to the citizens both in economic development and through the conservation of resources.

 The mural panels will be sculpted out of clay by my hands and with basic tools.  From beginning to the end the creation of this image will be mine, thereby insuring continuity in the design and execution. I prefer not to delegate the creative work to others. This work will be of one signature.

 I work with the clay media creating and developing relief, ultimately leaving surfaces and colors complimentary to the surrounding landscape and seen on the original vehicles. The earth tones of the mural will mimic those colors and textures used in the floors and brick of the building The color will be applied to the clay prior to firing, and is then made permanent by the intense heat of the kiln.  


The thickness of the mural will depend on the load limitation of the wall. Average weight is three to five pounds per square foot. If weight allows, some areas will have greater relief than others in order to simulate depth. 


Letter with final submission:


Dear Committee Members:


Enclosed are six new drawings, original artist statement and five models representing early land transportation. My research for this project revealed nine major changes in motorized transportation vehicles starting with 1920’s Pioneer years, 1930’s Depression, 1940’s War years, 1950’s Modern era where comfort was part of the design. I would like to include a fifth image to represent the beginnings of motorized bus service in the 20’s. This image would be mounted on the far left wall. The vehicle I selected for this image is typical of that time and would complete the retrospective.  


Of the five panels shown in my drawings and models: placement in the space needs to be reviewed to make certain that equipment, lights, etc designed for the function of the facility work in harmony. If I have overlooked some details of the space, I am sure the committee will be comfortable making decisions about where panels can be relocated within the site and can determine the format or size needed to make the panels fit.


I need to know what additional expenses I may have for prep of the sheetrock wall on the lower level for the central mural.  Am I correct to assume someone local will be contracted to do it? 





Bruce Howdle

Mural room being organized for the arrival of 3 tons of clay



Unloading 3 tons of clay into the doorway and moved to location with fork dolly.


 Chuck screwing lath onto the easel which holds the clay onto the surface.

                                                             Laronda using 2X4 to cut uniform slabs of clay to slam onto the




Brad J constructing a wall to reduce the heated space. 


                                                                   First day set up work area and started on the first panel with

                                                                   the horse drawn bus.













Second day ready to clean surface and establish outer format.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1926 bus leaving Concord for Kannapolis, NC.



1950 bus arriving in Concord.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Starting the Post WW II Southern Express relief.


Clay waiting and protected with plastic to start the 1910 image of a trolly in the streets of Concord. 


Cut into workable sizes number, catalog location.

Hollow out and rework the surface.  When slightly stiffer, hollow some more; then allow to dry.













The transit mural is almost dry I have cleaned and sanded the outer edge with sheetrock screen.  In  a couple of weeks I will start coloring, numbering and ready for kiln. I will start firing when the weather warms up, so I want to be ready to go when that happens. 

Pieces separated out and colored.Some sections are sprayed to assure a uniform coating.

To warm up kiln during the loading the burners were started and kept at a candle until the loading was done for the day.  Then continued the next day and finished at 11am when I commenced firing.



Website Updates

8.31.10 - New pictures were added to Photos>Vases and also to Photos>Gallery.

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