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Sue & Joe Tipman

At 12:21 AM 9/23/95, Joseph F.Backo wrote:

>> Chances are, we'll never see "Sue" again.
>I hope not!  I just a full-sized cast of Sue's skull in a Monterey, CA Art
>Gallery and it was incredible.
>A bit of a story on that though - I was at an IEEE Symposium for several days
>and saw the cast of Sue's skull while walking back from the pier.  I went into
>the shop  and stood mezmerized by this immense skull - it was a beautiful
>sight. On the table beneath the skull there were several pamphlets from Sue's
>"owners" that referenced some of the turmoil Sue had gone though.  I came back
>several more times that day - dragging co-workers with me to see this great
>The next morning on my walk I noticed that Sue's skull was gone - according to
>the owner, a wealthy parent bought the cast ( for several thousand $ ) for her
>5 year old's playroom.

The owner of the above mentioned Monterey Gallery is Christopher Bell, a
fellow sculptor and friend since the early 80's when we were budding little
proto sculptors.  The  above mentioned life sized "Sue Skulls" are cast in
a  Polyurathane Resin material.   Disclaimer:  The following is NOT a
commercial endorsement for Chris Bell or the artists at BHI or me for that
matter, but I'm going to throw some figures around and tell you exactally
what you are looking at.   The Gallery  Retail price for a life sized
Polyurathane replica of Sue's Skull is $7,500. US bucks.    I know, gasp!
choke!  blanch!   Feel better now?   Chris tells me that a wealthy
"Silicon Valley" executive saw the skull and challanged Chris:  "If you can
find a place for that in my house,  I'll buy it!"  Well, my friend Chris is
no fool.  The SV exec's house in Atherton had a huge Den/Family room with
25 ft ceilings, stone fireplace and such.  Sue's Skull found a home on a
16 ft ledge in that room and the deal was done.   Whether or not a 5 year
old plays there, I can't say.

Now, about that skull, and the artist .   I don't know how much
palentological work was accomplished,  but BHI did have posession of Sue
for two golden years before she was confiscated.  At some point, a rubber
mold was taken from the skull, but no rigid mother mold was ever made.  As
a result, that mold produces a very distorted casting, good for surface
detail but not much else.  The real hero in this little part of the Sue
story is Joe Tipman, the only modeling  sculptor at BHI.  With Sue's skull
there in front of him Joe sculpted the original work in styrofoam and clay.
And, I think he was able to use  actual T rex teeth, but the rest of the
sculpture was done in clay over a styrofoam armature.  This original work
of art was used to make a good silicon rubber mother mold with a rigid
fiberglass jacket.  This "Master Mold" is used to produce the polyurathane
casting of Joe Tipman's sculpture of Sue's skull, that mezmerized Joseph
Backo in Chris Bell's Gallery in Monterey.  Joe has made up 15 of these to
date.  Make no mistake, even though there is a mold involved each piece is
done by hand, one at a time, and requires many hours of labor, most of it
by Joe himself.  So, Not to worry, there's more where that came from if you
really want.

Joe Tipman has also done a number of Sue and other Dinosaur related
sculptures.  For example, he has done a scale  (about 1/9) model of "Sue"
as mounted  skeleton.  I have a copy of this piece myself, cast in bronze
and it is drop dead gorgeous,  as well as accurate.   The sculpture
includes Sue's broken and healed fibula, mangled caudal vertebrea, and the
bite marks on upper and lower jaw, from another T rex, perhaps the one that
killed her.  Or so the speculation goes.    He has also done Sue as a
fleshed out living animal which he calls "Sue Alive",  and he has just
completed a 36" x 36" replica of the dig site with a  disarticulated
skeleton of Sue , same scale as above, emerging from the rock.   The dig
site is only available is polyurathane as is the lifesized skull,  but
other works including  the mounted skeleton and "Sue Alive" are availavble
in bronze or resin.  He has also done a life sized Struthiomimus skull, and
a fleshed out version, availavble in bronze or resin, and he has  done a
model of BHI's other T rex, "Stan"  as a mounted skeleton, same scale as
above, bronze or resin.  You can also get skull only of Sue or Stan in
bronze or resin.  If $7,500 for a lifesized skull puts a crimp in your
credit card, consider a resin scale replica of Stan's skull at $120 or a
lifesizes resin of Struthiomimus skull at about $350.    Again, this is not
meant to be a commercial message.  Joe is a hardworking, hands on artist
with a front row seat, and I thought you all should know about him if you
don't already.   Joe is not on the net, but was vaguely aware of our
discussion group.  I told him I'd  brag about him and I have.   He 's got a
brochure in the works too.  You can reach him directly at:   Copy & Paste
this:  Joe Tipman,  c/o Black Hills Institute,   217 Main St.  -  Hill
City,  SD  57745.   -  Work Phone (also BHI) is 605-574-4289  -  Joe's home
number 605-574-4871

One last and little dicscussed tidbit about this whole Sue Snafu.  I asked
Joe if Mr Williams had ever returned the $5,000 that BHI had paid in the
first place.   He replied No!  And furthermore, BHI was still out the
$209,000 they had invested in the excavation and reconstruction of Sue
during the two years they had her,   .  .  .  And the courts have denied
BHI any compensation for that investment as well.  So if Chris Bell sells
replica of Sue's Skull to some fat cat in Silican Valley and some of that
money trickles back to Joe Tipman and BHI, well that's about the only
justice I can see in this for the moment.   On the other hand  BHI hasn't
fallen down and died from the beating they've taken.  They have "Stan" and
I think "Duffy" too, plus lots of other stuff, and you can be sure they
have learned to avoid future pitfalls from their experience with "Sue".
BHI deserves our support, however we can give it.

There,  I think I composed that whole message without a single rail against
any government or bureaucrat therin,  Although my tongue hurts where I had
to bite it a time or two.

Bill Hunt - Hunt Studios

Wildlife - Paleo Wildlife

Bronze - Stained Glass - Metal Sculpture

2780 Chaparral Ln  -  Paso Robles,  CA  -  93446

E-mail:  Willsculpt@AOL.com - or - bhunt@fix.net

Voice: 805-237-0733

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