Sculpting the Studio Life.
By Jean Cunningham
Boruch Lev makes sculpture and most of his sculpture is in clay. Sometimes he uses other mediums: bronze, plaster, resin and more. His studio and other areas of his home are blended and very much the same space. It’s not a stretch to say that Boruch lives in his studio. Every day after his morning routine, he begins his 8+ hour work day. He says the COVID-19 era has been very productive for him, as the art-related distractions of submissions, meetings, and fairs have been diminished leaving him much more time to solely develop his sculptures.
Boruch’s studio is filled with many works in different stages of development. Some are his models or trial phases of ideas for possible future projects. Every project is different and many require a unique support system or equipment to enable a specific way to air dry and fire the art pieces. Occasionally a new work will be something that Boruch sees where he can replicate the idea, but most of his pieces are purely his concept and one of a kind.
Most of Boruch’s projects carry his statement or reflect his point of view. What they all have in common is his sensitive and poetic treatment of natural lines and shapes. Some others are statements of a point of view. He often works on a concept that overtime transforms from an initial concrete topic into a reflection on the permanence of nature. For example, once he began creating a sculpture of an open book as a part of a memorial, but his initial idea gained a second, deeper meaning of eternal life by blending the shape of the book with shapes of running waves. It is very rewarding to Boruch that the interpretation of much of his work is purely in the eye of the observer.
The variety of items in the studio reflect the range of ideas that Boruch has for projects. He has learned that he needs to immediately capture these ideas either as a note on his phone or as a quick sketch so that he does not lose the idea. Then over time—even 1 to 2 years later—the ideas will still be fresh if he decides to develop them. Some of these ideas may require significant experimentation before they come to life. In planning his work schedule, commissions and exhibits have their own timelines, and developmental work is interspersed as time allows.
Clay sculpting starts with fresh clay. And in Boruch’s case, either white or red clay. Often, he develops a model, and sometimes the model ends up being the final product. His tools to design include common sculpture tools as well as any piece of wood or stone which he has handy.
After creating the piece, it must air dry which can take as long as two weeks. A proper drying method is very important because if the clay dries unevenly, it may crack, ruining the piece. Is the piece still cool to the touch? Yes? Then it isn’t dry yet!
If the piece has the potential to be the basis for similar pieces, Boruch may create a mold at this point. But even if from a mold, the final piece will still be one of a kind due to significant treatments and finishes he applies after unmolding the piece.
Some final works are bronze, and they are done using the lost wax method. Boruch makes a mold from the original clay piece, casts wax in the mold, and after some treatment, he sends this wax model to the foundry to cast it in bronze or aluminum. A bronze is much more expensive to create, so this is an important decision for the artist or client, from a financial perspective.
The next step when the final product is clay, is a series of firings in the kilns at Boruch’s studio. A piece may be fired 2 to 4 times to achieve a desired finish. The final fire is the hottest one, sealing the piece.
Buruch’s studio area where he conducts his sculpture class “Creative Clay” is quite large. The pandemic forced a break in regular classes, but they may restart this fall. That break brought an unexpected benefit. For a few months, he was working with his students on charcoal sketching using ZOOM which he found to be a very interesting experience.
As a member of Evanston Made, Boruch is grateful for the connection he has with other artists in Evanston and Skokie. Among other things, it has provided some good marketing tips, and Kathy Halper has been especially helpful with his website page. Being observant to his religion, he is not able to participate in Saturday events, but enjoys being involved on other days.
Boruch sells his art and works on commission. If you would like to see, purchase, or commission Boruch’s work, or visit his studio, email him at Eugene_lev@yahoo.com or visit his website at http://www.lsculpture.com. Also, click here to visit his Evanston Made page.
Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University.