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"Bronzed hands immortalize mountaineering legend"
0000-00-00 until 0000-00-00
By D. Dion
Denver, CO, USA United States of America

How much are your hands worth. John Elway’s bronze hand casts — two pair, with football — sold for $80,000. Various baseball figures have bronze hand casts with bats that retail from $5,000-$15,000 per pair. Artist Raelee Frazier, whose sculpture graces the Smithsonian Institution, the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado State Historical Society, and many other museums, is currently creating a bronze hand cast of living legend Sir Edmund Hillary.

The price tag for the mountaineering memorabiliaNULL $50,000. Frazier is producing 29 replicas of the mountaineer’s hands, weilding an ice axe. That is one pair for each of the 1,000 feet of Everest, the most noted conquest of Sir Edmund Hillary. Hillary’s Himalayan foundation— a trust which continues to build schools, hospitals, and medical clinics for the indigenous sherpas— is something for which he is less known.

“The money will benefit the Foundation, and the people of the Himalayas,” said Frazier.

Frazier, expert in her small field of “life casting,” is normally called upon by museums and historical societies to recreate world figures. Using photos, paintings, and molds of people who look similar to the subject, she is able to cast a composite recreation. Frazier prefers, however, to work with live models such as Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, and Hillary.

“I meet the most interesting people this way,” said Frazier. The actual molding process puts Frazier in intimate contact with her subject for approximately two hours. The subject shaves his/her hands and wrists, or whatever body parts are to be cast into legacy, and dips them, intermittently, into vats of warm wax and cold water. After several dunkings, a “wax glove” provides the artist with the information needed to create the piece. Two months and hundreds of work hours later, a bronze representation of the subject will exist. Hillary’s hands will hold an ice axe, instead of the usual football or baseball bat. Frazier first asked the aging mountaineer from New Zealand to hold the axe in the “arrest” position. According to Frazier, Hillary quietly objected to the request. “I hope never to have to hold it like that,” said Hillary. Frazier’s Highland Studio is located in Denver, where the 29 sets of hands are solidifying. The art pieces will be auctioned in Vail at the end of February.

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