Harrison County Sculptor Creates Outdoor Art For New Bridges

HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX) -- The coast's two brand new bridges will soon have an even more scenic view thanks in part to a Harrison County sculptor. Greg Moran is creating metal versions of the works of specially chosen local artists. MDOT will place the panels along the Bay St. Louis and Biloxi Bay bridges.

First, Moran uses clay to transform the artist's drawing into a three dimensional image.

"I pour a rubber mold compound over the top. Remove that. Take the original out. Then pour the wax back in that," said Moran. "It pops out, then I have a suitable mold ready for casting. "

To create the cast, Moran dips the mold 14 times in ceramic shell and fused silica.

"I'll go ahead and put them in the oven and bring them up to about 1,750 degrees, which vitrifies the ceramic shell and also evacuates all the wax," Moran said.

Right now, Moran is in the middle of creating 22 artist panels, as well as 22 mile markers for the new Bay St. Louis Bridge. He's doing it by melting brass bearings that were once part of the old bridge.

"The metal is placed in the crucible where it's heated up to 1,950 to 2,000 degrees," he said. "Once it goes completely liquid, it's removed though an apparatus and poured into the molds."

Once the metal cools, Moran is ideally left with a mirror image of what the artist drew.

"It's been a little bit like trying to copy 22 people's different style of handwriting. But I know that if it was up to me, I would want somebody who would take as much time and be as careful to their particular style, and that's what I've tried to do."

Moran is already working on the mile markers for the Biloxi Bay Bridge with the Biloxi Lighthouse on one side and the Ocean Springs Fleur De Leis on the other.

"My great-grand kids are going to walk this bridge and these plaques are going to be there.  Just to have some small part in the rejoining of our community which was separated after these bridges came down, it's really a remarkable thing," he said.

After a little sanding and polishing, it's also a remarkable piece of art.

On Thursday, the city of Ocean Springs will announce the four Jackson County artists whose work will be featured on a mosaic to be built near the bridge.