The bronze statue commemorating Gerald Mork, the fallen Iola police officer, required years to plan, raise funds for, design and create.
At 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, the sculpture will be unveiled at a ceremony in front of the Waupaca County Law Enforcement Center.
Shortly after he was first elected in 2006, Sheriff Brad Hardel began working with Chief Deputy Al Kraeger to raise funds for the statue.
“There had been work on the project earlier, but it stalled,” Hardel said, noting that in 2002 a special arm patch commemorating Gerald Mork had been made to raise funds for the statue.
To create the bronze statue would cost approximately $80,000.
“It took us about six months to raise the money,” Hardel said.
Their efforts began to show promise after a meeting with Chet Krause, who promised to pay half the cost of the statue.
“He told us, ‘If you raise $40,000, I’ll match it,'” Hardel said. “The Iola Old Car Show was a major donor and gave us a lot of contacts and addresses for mass mailings. First National Bank and Farmers State Bank were also big donors. We could not have done it without the support of the community.”
Gwendolyn Gillen, with Vanguard Sculpture Services in Milwaukee, was commissioned to create the bronze sculpture.
Gillen’s most notable works include the ducks on the Wisconsin Avenue bridge in Milwaukee, statues of Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis and Father Kentenich, founder of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, in Waukesha, The sculpture of Mork was the last piece she designed before she retired.
While working on the Mork statue in November 2010, Gillen told the Milwaukee Shepherd Express that designing the officer’s head was the most difficult aspect of the statue.
“Sometimes you run into blocks, but I’ve never had such problems. I have to credit it to the fact that he was murdered,” Gillen said.
Gillen did not complete the work and Jeremy Wolf, whose sculptures can be seen along the river in Milwaukee and in galleries and museums throughout Wisconsin, took over the project.
Beth Sahagian-Allsopp, the owner of Vanguard Sculpture Services, described the process involved in creating the Mork statue.
“Faces require the most amount of subjective accuracy,” she said. “We worked from photographs and family and friends who knew the oficer contributed with their comments.”
The first step in creating a bronze sculpture is to make a miniature clay model, usually about half the size of the statue.
Then a full-size mold is made. The outside shell of the mold is a harder material, such as fiberglass, while the inner core of the mold is made of rubber. It is an exact negative duplicate of the original model.
Molten wax is then poured into the rubber mold until a thin layer of wax covers the mold’s inner surface.
After the wax layer inside the mold cools and hardens, it is removed and finished. Imperfections in the wax copy are removed.
The wax model is then sprued by attaching it to a support structure of wax tubes through which the molten bronze will eventually flow into the mold.
The wax mold is then dipped into a silica slurry that hardens a ceramic shell. After the mold is placed in a kiln, the heat causes the wax to melt and run out, leaving a hard ceramic shell in place of the wax mold and spruing.
After the ceramic shell is cooled, cleaned and tested, molten bronze is poured into it.
After the bronze hardens, the ceramic shell is hammered away and the bronze is finished.
Hardel said the statue will be erected in front of the Waupaca County Law Enforcement Center and remain covered until its unveiling ceremony on Aug. 17.