Hess begins a sculpture by creating a maquette, or a sculpture “sketch,” and then constructing the sculpture life-size in clay. Then, once she creates a wax replica, the sculpture is taken to a foundry to be cast in bronze. Even the smallest projects can take three to four months.
Hess also sculpted a bronze bust of Charles E. Taylor, the Wright Brother’s mechanic and creator of the unique engine which enabled Orville and Wilbur Wright to first achieve controlled, powered flight. The bust has become the basis for the Charlie Taylor Award, given to aircraft mechanics for a 25-year perfect record, one of the most prestigious accolades in the field.
“I didn’t think anyone would want that head. Now it’s all around the world in 50 countries,” Hess said. “Sometimes the thing you had the most fun doing turns out to be the one most important to you.”
At 96, Hess hasn’t slowed down, and is continuing to work on sculptures for new recipients in the Miami Valley.