Monday, February 8, 2016

The Small Stuff

With the Texas commission finished, I turned my efforts toward some small pieces - a way of "clearing my palate" before heading into the next large project, I guess.
 I started easy with this "Stairway to the Stars" bookend.  When I was making it, I was thinking about it being a monumental piece that someone could walk up.  I may do something like that - you never know...It's Indiana Limestone and measures 7" high by 8" wide by 4" thick and retails for $95.
 ...and speaking of stars...I did this "Shooting Star" vessel in a piece of Brazilian Marble.  It measures 20" long by 7" wide by 3-1/2" high and retails for $340.
 Then, I made a "Windswept Vase" in Indiana Limestone that will retail for $280.
 This is the view from the other side...  It measures 7" high by 7" deep by 16" wide.
 ...and the top view showing the complex interior.
 It's snowing again today...and freezing temperatures are here to stay for a few days yet (and more snow to come).
A crowd of Cardinals took over the feed table today.  I count 30, but there may be more as the females are hard to see.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Texas Bench Finished

It's been a while since I've posted....
 I've finally finished the bench for The Woodlands, Texas.  This is the view from one side...
 ...and this is the view from the other.
 My original proposal called for leaves to be polished, like the leaves in "Crucible" which will be installed at the University of Indianapolis later this year...
 ...or like the leaves on "Release" in Fort Nugent Park of Oak Harbor, Washington.
 This is a detail that shows how I finished these leaves.  I used a chisel texture to give more "life" to the piece.  I came upon this solution serendipitously as I carved the piece.  I think it's a HUGE improvement to what I originally envisioned.
 I had put in a lot of work during November and December because I knew that snow and freezing temperatures were inevitable.  We got several inches of snow between January 10 and January 25...and they're calling for more snow next week.
 A group of Grackles took over the feed table during the snow days...
...and the cat was stuck inside with me.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sculpture Progress & Sculpture Dedication

We've had unusually warm weather for November and December.  I've made fast and furious progress on the bench for The Woodlands, Texas.  I'm hoping to be finished before it turns seriously cold or snowy.
On the last posted pictures of this project, I had placed the preformed block on the rail cart.  Next, I needed to get a large volume of stone out of the center of the sculpture - above the curved seat.  I cut 2 large notches on either side of the stone to be removed.  Then, I drilled holes from both sides along the line that I wanted to split out the block.
 I placed feathers and wedges into the holes and slowly built up pressure by hammering the wedges.
 You can see the 1,000 lb. block that I split from the bench in the lower right foreground.  I used a metal pry bar to flip the piece onto the ground.  That 1,000 lb. scrap stone will become another sculpture someday.
 I rolled the rail cart with the bench into the studio.  I used diamond blades on a 9" grinder to get the basic shape.
 I've now begun the laborious process of carving the leaves and branches of the trees.
 This is how it looks today - it's come a long way from the quarry block that I started with about 5 weeks ago.
 ...and this the view of the other side.  Most of the basic shapes have been formed.  Now comes the slow part of the project - constant refining anf finishing.
 November 24 was the date for the dedication of our 2 sculptures.  Left to right: Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne, myself, Executive Director of the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art Mary Bryan Hood, Meg White and Meg's sculpture "Escape".
Photo Jason Hayden
 Then, we all walked down the street to dedicate my sculpture "Oberon".  My favorite part of the dedication was afterwards when the Mayor gave Meg and myself a tour of the newly completed convention center - it's spectacular!.  Then we went to the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and had a personal tour of their Christmas Show that features cultural artifacts from around the world.  This was a real treat for Meg and myself as we love art and artifacts.
Photo Jason Hayden

...and now for something completely different...
Meg snapped this photo of a Barred Owl that came up to the studio this week - a rare site in the daytime. (looking to take care of our squirrel-in-the-birdfeeder problem, no doubt).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kyana Rock Show 2015

November 20,21 and 22 was the Annual Mineral, Gem and Fossil Show hosted by the Kyana Geological Society at Camp Crestwood.
 There were quite a few dealers set up selling minerals, fossils, gems and finished jewelry.  We know many of these dealers and club members on a personal basis and it's great to see them all again.  ....and, of course, lots of rocks...
 ...and more pretty rocks.
 There are other things that catch my attention besides rocks...
 Here's a shameless plug for the BBQ vendor.  You should see how much chicken you get for $3 - or rib tips for $5!
 Meg has a great eye - she found these pyrite crystals in a nest of Peruvian quartz (that I totally missed).
This was my favorite purchase of the day - Selenite Desert Roses from Mexico.
The new venue for the Kyana show is a little hard to find, but it's worth the trip if you like Earth's natural treasures.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Owensboro Sculpture Installation

Monday, November 16th was the day that was chosen for Meg and I to install our stone sculptures in Owensboro, Kentucky.  They were both to be permanent installations in the midst of the newly developed riverfront.  What Owensboro is doing with their riverfront is amazing!  Also, they have a very effective Public Art program that is leaving many larger cities in the dust!
 We started the day with this crane...
 ....I thought that we'd be using this crane...
 ...almost used this crane...
 ....and finished with this crane.  (It was my first 4-crane installation; that's got to be some kind of record).
 We installed Meg's sculpture "Escape" first.  (How about that Osprey mural in the background!)
Dereck Sheroan (our main crane operator for the last 8 years) is giving signals to Patrick Wood of Sterett Crane Company. 
 Jason Hayden of the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art is helping us tweak the template that will determine where to drill the hole for the stainless steel pin.  Mary Bryan Hood, Executive Director of OMFA, was also present to help with the final positioning of the pieces.  Meg White, as the artist, directed this entire installation, but you never see her in  any pictures because she's behind the camera.
 Next, a hole was drilled into the concrete, the epoxy mixed...
 ...then we started the sculpture over the stainless steel pin and set the piece onto some boards (in order to get the slings out from under the sculpture).
 Lelan Hancock, deputy Director of public works with the City of Owensboro, helped guide the sculpture back to the predetermined alignment as I pivoted the piece with the help of the crane.  We used choker hitches to remove the boards from under the sculpture.  (That's a true choker hitch - in every sense of the word).
 Next, it was my turn to install Oberon.
 Touchdown!  Oberon has landed.
If those are tears, they're tears of joy.  The rain had started to pick up about the time that we were finished.  We wrapped everything up and then Meg and I went out to try some of Owensboro's world famous BBQ.
All photos Meg White 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Bench for The Woodlands, Texas

Monday, I received news that I had won one of 6 commissions in the Woodlands Waterway Art Bench competition.
 We were informed that work could commence immediately.  I already had the stone - it measured 10-1/2 feet long by 3-1/2 feet wide by 2-1/2 feet at the thick end and weighed about 9,000 lbs.
 The first thing that I did was lay out the design onto the stone and inscribed the lines with the diamond blade on a 4-1/2" grinder.
 I didn't need all of the 10-1/2 feet, so I split off the thin end by drilling holes and inserting feathers and wedges.  My proposal has the bench at 6 feet of length, but I'm going to try making it 8 feet since I have the extra stone.
 As you hammer in the wedges, they put pressure on the feathers and create a crack.  Here, you can see the piece split from the end and the left hand corner that I also wanted to remove.
 While the block was on its side, this was the time to make (what will be) the bottom flat.  I also pre-drilled 2 holes that I will use during installation to fasten the functional sculpture to the concrete footer with stainless steel pins and epoxy.
 Friday the 13th was the lucky day.  Dereck Sheroan brought the 23 ton crane from JBB, Inc. to help me move the preformed block to the studio.  The first thing that we did was stand the piece upright.
 Then, he loaded it onto the back of the crane.  At this point, we found that it weighs 7,800 lbs.  It will loose about half that weight before it is finished.
 We took the block over to the studio and loaded it onto the rail cart.
Here it is - ready to be rolled inside for carving. The 10,000 lb. stone next to it belongs to Meg and she will be sculpting a mother Gorilla on her back and playfully holding up her baby Gorilla above her.