The Iron Horse

This second self portrait in bronze was sketched originally when the octopus typewriter was planned, in 2003. In 2010, I began to construct the body. By 2015, I decided that the hollow bronze body was perfect for containing a mechanism to make the eyestalks move up and down. These photos track the process of making the sculpture. Often, I work on multiple pieces at the same time, so each one ends up taking years to make. This piece is almost done!

This sculpture is currently only in wax, is fairly large and complex. At this time, I am considering whether to add a mechanism...


The Iron Horse addresses not only the passing of great lengths of time and art history but refers to the sculptural tradition of tyrants on horseback. This sculpture is animated by  fear of loss of power, the toppling of empires such as the oil and gas industries, an end of the reign of the Iron Horses.

Plaster body ready to coat in wax

This is the skateboard as I call it, containing 3D printed and bronze cast gears that have two different speed ratios for a natural flow of motion.

American Ground is a wall piece cast this year. The technique is fun and spontaneous, consisting of clay pressings from outdoor architectural features such as manhole covers and water pumps. With chicken bones and goat horns, or course.


The horse eye next to it is a fragment of the Iron Horse, which makes a nice small wall piece.


Coming Soon

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Wax cut with hot iron into halves and peeled off the plaster 

Bronze Sculpture

by Courtney Brown

"Self Portrait II"

This current photo shows the hand crank on the side. More to come.

"American Ground"

The mechanism is based on a Scotch Yoke, a pretty simple type used in motors to convert rotary motion to vertical or horizontal motion. The yokes are at the bottom of the eyestalks. The action is driven by a crank on the side of the slug and these belts shown on the left. Lots of bearings keep the motion smooth.

The bronze was cast at Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, Ca.  Then the fabrication process of metal parts began, including making the eyestalks fit into the body and line up with the mechanism inside. First I had to build it...

Wax coating done and ready to be separated from the plaster

All wax parts ready to be cast