Longtime Dallas flight attendant Brad Stewart developed an odd hobby a few years ago that transformed him into an artist. What is his craft? Phantoms.
Eighteen years ago, Brad married his wife Karen in Varenna, Italy. While abroad, they visited Castello di Vezio where they saw ghostly figures placed around the castle. “They were phantoms,” Brad said. “The phantoms were void. They’re there, but they’re not there.”
Brad did not draw upon this Italian inspiration until 15 years later. Three years ago he started experimenting with how to make these so-called phantoms that he discovered in the castle.
It took several phantoms to get the mixture just right. Using a mixture of cement and various additives, he saturates and then carefully drapes a heavy tarp over his model. Brad created his first couple of phantoms during the Halloween season in 2015 and used them as decorations in his front yard.
“I had people pulling over and running into my front yard to take selfies with the phantoms,” said Brad. “I knew I was onto something at that point.”
He continued working on his sculptures, and they continued to grow in popularity. His friends and family would pose for about an hour and a half while Brad worked his magic, and after the cement hardened, a new phantom was born.
“It has been a really fun process with friends and family,” said Brad. “They all say ‘I want to do it; I want one of me!’”
Although the phantoms have a void within them, Brad loves capturing mannerisms of the person they are modeled after. “When you look inside them, your mind wants to fill the gap with someone who is inside of there,” said Brad. “Ironically, the phantom itself takes the shape of the person who was once there. Their mannerisms and natural poses are captured.”
One of Brad’s phantom models was long-time friend, Luke Shertzer. After seeing the outcome of the phantoms, Luke and Jennifer, owners of this magazine, asked Brad to bring some of the phantoms to the Downtown Plano Art and Wine walk in October 2017. Wine Walk attendees had fun posing with the phantoms and they were a hit for this new Downtown Plano audience.
When planning the inaugural Apparition Expedition last year, Michelle Hawkins, arts, culture and heritage manager for the City of Plano, thought the phantoms would make a great addition to the spooky event. The phantoms were so popular they reprised their role this year, and can currently be seen throughout Downtown Plano, adding to the haunted feel of the Halloween season.
Mary Jacobs, Plano resident and author of “Haunted Plano, Texas,” asked Brad to cast one of the phantoms after herself, reading a copy of her book, of course. Brad obliged.
“It’s crazy. This is just something fun that started at my house,” said Brad. “I have really enjoyed making them, first and foremost. And then, if it continues growing, we just want to take it as far as it can go.”
All of the phantom sculptures are available for purchase. Contact the artist through his Instagram account @phantomsculpture to inquire about pricing.Phantom Sculptures >