ESPN.com Senior Writer
Working in his Utah studio at the base of the mountains midway between Salt Lake and Provo, Blair Buswell memorializes the NFL's greatest players for posterity in the Professional Football Hall of Fame. For history. Forever.
"I want it not to just look like him," Buswell said, "but it has to feel like him."
Diligence, married with vision and talent, has resulted in some startling likenesses in Canton. Buswell has created 53 busts, including the three members of this weekend's Class of 2005 -- Dan Marino, the late Benny Friedman and Steve Young, Buswell's former college teammate at BYU.
Working with natural water-based Death Valley clay, a deep red, rich with dirt and sand, Buswell has an enviable integrity in his pursuit of detail. He spends hundreds of hours -- and a considerable sum of his own money -- to get it right.
Buswell travels to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii each year, at his own expense, to measure -- literally and figuratively -- his potential subjects. After making arrangements to visit their homes or schedule visits to his studio for posing sessions, Buswell gets to work. He arranges two rows of 8-by-10-inch black and white photos of the subject from all angles, sent to him by the Hall, on a large board. Then he begins building layers of clay on a 1-inch galvanized pipe that is about 12 inches tall and fashioned in the shape of a "T."
Once Buswell has made all the final tweaks to everyone's satisfaction, the complicated "lost wax" casting process of turning clay into bronze begins. Cultures have been using this method dating back to the eighth century and Buswell follows the time-honored tradition. Essentially, it is the same process dentists use to make a crown that replicates a tooth. After numerous, sometimes tedious steps, Buswell applies a raw bronze patina to the 25-pound bronze bust to give it a more human hue.
With three subjects from the Class of 2005 -- Steve Young, Dan Marino and Benny Friedman -- sculptor Blair Buswell has now created 53 of the 229 bronze busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The creation of each bust is its own, unique story. Here are nine of them, from the perspective of the artist, as told to ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber.