Pippen bust adds new jewel to the United Center

“To be in a position where an organization like the Bulls creates a bust of you that will permanently be displayed in a building like the United Center says it all,” said Pippen. “It’s hard to put into words because it is such an honor. It’s great to know


“When I visited the studio, I was able to see it as it progressed," said Pippen of the process. "The sculptors said it helped them too to see me in person and work on some of the details to make the bust look more natural.”

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Audio—Pippen meets the media following the bust unveiling (04.07.2011):

By Adam Fluck | 04.07.2011

It’s been a busy and nostalgic stretch for Scottie Pippen, who in the last nine months has rejoined the Bulls as a team ambassador, entered basketball’s Hall of Fame, and reunited with teammates from 20 years ago in a celebration of their first NBA championship.

On Thursday, he enjoyed one more moment as the Bulls unveiled a bronze bust of him during halftime of their game against the Boston Celtics.

“To be in a position where an organization like the Bulls creates a bust of you that will permanently be displayed in a building like the United Center says it all,” said Pippen. “It’s hard to put into words because it is such an honor. It’s great to know that something like that will be around forever.”

Pippen was first told by the team that a bust would be created the week that he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Shortly after the Aug. 13 enshrinement ceremony, he made his first trip to the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany, located in Highwood, Ill.

He met with the sculptor, Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, who had received a game action photo from the Bulls that provided the direction in which the team hoped to move with the piece. At that time, Rotblatt-Amrany took additional photos of Pippen and recorded detailed measurements of his face.

“I really didn’t have a lot of input prior to that point, but I was fine with that,” said Pippen. “When I visited the studio, I was able to see it as it progressed. The sculptors said it helped them too to see me in person and work on some of the details to make the bust look more natural.”

After approximately two to three months of working with the piece in clay form, Rotblatt-Amrany invited Pippen back to the studio. His second visit, which took place in November, allowed Rotblatt-Amrany to obtain some additional measurements and have her subject on hand as that element of the process concluded.

“Once you get the likeness, the next step is to hone in on the details a little bit more to further the process,” explained Rotblatt-Amrany. “When you work off photographs, the image flattens out the three-dimensional person. So there are a lot of things you can’t see. While with a lot of pieces we don’t have the availability of the subject, in this case we did, and it helped all the more.”

Once the clay version of the piece was finalized, a rubber mold was created and a plaster mold, which acted like a jacket to the rubber, was placed on top of that. Everything was then shipped off to the foundry, where a wax replica of the original clay was created. Over the wax, another mold was made in a silicon shell. Once that shell was constructed, another quarter-inch shell was created and the piece was put into a furnace, at which time the wax melted out of the outer shell.

Then, the liquid molten bronze was poured into the outer shell. Once it cooled, the shell was cracked off and the extra channels in which the bronzed flowed were removed. Final steps included metal chasing, welding and filling of pits in the middle. Once everything was put together and the surface was fine tuned, patina, a tarnish that formed on the surface of the bust’s silicon bronze, was added.

The bust, which weighs approximately 150 pounds with dimensions of 45.5 inches tall, 47 inches wide, and 16 inches deep, was finished in March.

Scottie Pippen
“I’m very humbled by it,” said Pippen of the bust. “I can’t say thank you to the organization enough to really get across how I feel. I’m truly honored that the Bulls would do this for me.”

As for her subject, Rotblatt-Amrany, who also sculpted the famous Michael Jordan statue, offered no complaints.

“Scottie was great to work with and was very involved,” she said. “He spent a good amount of time in our studio, took a tour, and talked with those who were here. He was very nice, patient and friendly. He also seemed genuinely interested in the process as well.”

Pippen already had a permanent presence in the building where he, Michael Jordan and the Bulls claimed their second three-peat in the 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons—his number 33 was retired in December of 2005. Now, he’s got a bust that will provide a nice complement.

“I’m very humbled by it,” said Pippen. “I can’t say thank you to the organization enough to really get across how I feel. I’m truly honored that the Bulls would do this for me.”

On Friday, Pippen’s bust will be installed on a 42-inch granite base and be permanently displayed inside United Center at the building’s Gate 7 entrance.

“I think it will be a real jewel for the Bulls and United Center,” said Rotblatt-Amrany. “I hope that Scottie, as well as the crowd, is very pleased and I think that they will be.”

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