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Fabricating

A resounding sculpture

By Colin Linneweber

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Dale Evers used raw materials to fabricate a replica of Carlos Santana’s Paul Reed Smith guitar

July 26, 2017 - “Some songs are just like tattoos for your brain,” said Carlos Santana, 70, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. “You hear them and they’re affixed to you.”

Music inspires Dale Evers, a sculptor and designer who deeply admires Santana’s wizardry with a guitar. Music helped spawn his adoration for arts.

“Rock ‘n’ roll music defined my life in so many ways,” says Evers, 62, a native of San Diego. “I recall the first time I heard Carlos Santana’s music in the early 1970s and it was pure magic. Actually, it was more like ‘Black Magic Woman.’ Like so many baby boomers, Santana’s music figures prominently into my memory bank.”

A U.S. Army veteran and 1985 graduate of San Diego State University, Evers was determined to celebrate Santana’s brilliance. So he modeled, then  sculpted, a 13-ft.-tall, 1,000-lb. replica of Santana’s signature Paul Reed Smith guitar by fusing steel, glass and bronze. The vibrant statue, titled “Wings of Legend,” was unveiled in January in front of the House of Blues Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Santana, a 10-time Grammy winner who Rolling Stone magazine listed as history’s 20th greatest guitarist, was the House of Blues’ first ever resident.

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“The idea of working with the legendary rocker was an absolute dream,” says Evers. “How amazing is life that I would be granted the opportunity to create an iconic Paul Reed Smith guitar sculpture as a tribute to Mr. Santana more than 40 years after I first listened to his music,” he enthuses.

Evers employed various cutting, welding and bending methods to create “Wings of Legend.” Using a TIG welder as his primary tool, Evers applied different techniques to fabricate each part of the sculpture.

He worked with “designs of Rhino 5 files to plasma cut the body and feathers. I also used waterjet cutting for the neck and iridized glass for the neck of the guitar.”

Mixed media

Evers purchased roughly $7,000 worth of mild steel, stainless steel, bronze and iridized blue glass to construct the guitar and the base on which it’s mounted. Evers next used plasma, waterjet and a cutting wheel to shape the raw materials to size. Evers designed the guitar’s mild steel body with a 3D CAD software program before he welded the various pieces together.

“The neck and head of the guitar were cut using a waterjet machine so the rectangles of blue glass and flying stainless steel inlays fit perfectly,” says Evers, who also designs furnishings, and is a writer and lecturer.

“The parts cut were the front and back of the body and the neck, head and feathers. To weld the body together, I used 2-in.-wide steel straps and a liquid propane/oxygen torch to heat the metal and bend it to the front and back of the guitar body. I then tack welded it and bent it. After I finished welding the body and neck, I ground the welds smooth and textured the steel with a 40 grit-sanding belt to create a golden brown color that emulates wood grain and highlights its wings. This solution is called Japanese Brown.”

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Detailed process

Next were the wings, composed of individual stainless steel feathers, he says. He laid out a curve, cut each feature with a plasma torch, used a cutting wheel to make the quill and then welded each down one at a time to create angel-like wings. Evers used “the sharp side of a rock hammer to hammer in the feathers’ details. The wing sections were welded to a mounting plate that could be fastened with bolts to the back of the guitar after it was finished.  

Finally, Evers welded carbon steel, stainless steel pipe and bronze to build the base and the guitar was mounted to it with a 2-in.-diameter stainless pin.

“The base consists of steel, a 3-in. OD stainless steel pipe that I rolled into a circle and welded a bronze 48-in. dome to it,” says the sculptor. “I then made a small area on the front of the base that emulated a bronze sculpture of Carlos with angel wings to pay homage to his guitar.”

Considering the project’s complexity, Evers was pleased the final product mirrored his blueprint. He encountered some issues and setbacks but soon overcame any complications by adapting and substituting one fabrication technique for another.

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Tangible vision

“I had the vision of the guitar in my head, but getting it out and making it tangible was another thing,” says Evers. “It was trial and error with creating the stainless steel wings, as well as making the body to emulate the stylish curves of the Paul Reed Smith guitars. Those guitars are works of art.”

Evers has a new commission. He is currently creating a 20-ft.-tall bronze, steel and iridized glass sculpture called Amorphius, that will be displayed at Sculpterra Winery & Sculpture Garden in Paso Robles, California.

With zero desire to retire, or lighten his workload, Evers constantly considers new sculptures. He is uncertain if he will ever manufacture a piece of artwork more powerful or gratifying than “Wings of Legend.”

“My career as a professional artist is over three decades long and I hope I have many more years ahead of me doing what I love,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve pushed myself to figure out how to use different mediums, like bronze, steel, stainless steel and glass, to create what I see in life. However, this project offered moments of pure satisfaction and achievement.”

Dale Evers’ craftsmanship helped further immortalize fabled Mexican-American musician Carlos Santana. “Yes, you put your spell on me, baby!” FFJ

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