Tools used to make a bronze caste.
A s an Ambassadorial Scholar, Erik Blome spent a year learning to cast bronze at the Royal College of Art in London. He returned to his hometown of Chicago and landed a commission to cast a bust for a city library.
"It was the break you need at 23," Blome says.
He has since cast more than a dozen famous figures in bronze, including Martin Luther King Jr., Wayne Gretzky, and Duke Ellington. He also has continued his relationship with Rotary, recently completing a memorial to 9/11 first responders using steel beams from the World Trade Center, a project initiated and funded by the Rotary Club of Oak Lawn, Illinois.
"When you see the beams in real life, they are so twisted and phenomenally damaged," Blome says. "You can imagine the weight coming down and the kind of power it would take to bend a beam like that."
He toiled for seven months to create two bronze spires to sit atop the beams, and the sculpture was unveiled this 11 September.
Blome and his wife, Charlotte, who adopted their youngest son from Ethiopia, conduct art workshops for children in that country through When I Grow Up I Want to Be, a nonprofit they started in 2005.
Later this year, Blome will spend four months as a Fulbright Scholar at Helwan University in Egypt, where he'll teach bronze casting and learn the Egyptian style of granite carving.