Sunday, May 4, 2008

Derby Week

The first Saturday in May is always a big deal in Kentucky. My own Derby activities were a little off beat, as you can see at the end of this post. But, business first! I have begun a new project that is entitled "Release" which is an earthworks and Indiana Limestone sculpture that will be installed in Ft. Nugent Park near Oak Harbor, Washington. This is the block of Indiana Limestone that will be carved into the form of a new plant as it is released from its protective seed shell. It weighs 13,000 lbs and measures approximately 7 foot long by 4 foot wide by 2 - 1/2 foot thick.
The first task was to lay out the outside dimensions onto the stone to determine how the design will fit into the block.
I determined where the bottom will be and incised the line with a diamond blade. The first task is to remove the material to the left of that line, which I don't need.
I used this big drill to make deep holes that are about 8 inches apart.
I placed metal "feathers and wedges" into the holes. By beating in the wedges with the hammer, it places pressure on the half-round "feathers" which directs pressure in opposite directions. As you hammer the wedges, they 'tune up' with an ever higher pitch as the pressure increases.
Stone has no elasticity - it won't bend, it will break. As the pressure increases, something has to give. A crack will form where there is a path of least resistance; in this case, the line of deep holes that I drilled.
I used our crane truck to move the one ton piece of scrap out of the way so that I can make the bottom flat. That piece of scrap will become another sculpture someday (maybe more than one).
I used the diamond wheel on the grinder (shown above) to make cuts along what will be the bottom of the sculpture. I cut a bit and then break off the pieces, so that I can cut a little bit more. I use a level to check my progress, so that the bottom will be true and flat.
Our crane truck can only pick up 4,000 pounds. The block still weighs around 11,000 lbs. at this point, so I hired a monorail truck owned by Breck County Ready Mix to move the block over to the studio.
After lowering the block to the ground, I re-tied the rigging so that the block could be stood up on its bottom end.
The block was then lifted onto my 'cart and rail' system. This heavy duty rail cart will allow me to roll the piece into the studio during rain or the coming hot weather.
I drew the design onto the flat surface of the block by gridding the drawing and gridding the stone. The drawing was sized and printed off from a computer so that it measured 5 inches high by 4 inches wide. The stone measures 5 foot high by 4 foot wide, so that gives me a 12 to 1 scale (1 inch on the drawing equals 1 foot on the stone). I incised the lines so that they wouldn't wipe off as I began carving.
I've begun the process of carving by cutting away the stone outside the outline of the design. I make parallel cuts with the diamond wheeled saw and break them off with the hammer and chisel.
By the end of the 1st week, I have removed most of the waste stone around the outline of the design.
On Derby Day, Meg and I found a mother possum that was hit on the road between our house and our studio. It had 8 babies that were still alive and clinging to her. We took them to Woodland Wildlife Rehabilitators in Radcliff, Kentucky, which is mainly the round-the-clock effort of Monika and John Wilcox who feed and clean up after an endless stream of distressed wildlife. They currently have 900 creatures that they are rehabilitating. I encourage anyone to make a donation to them, as they work so hard on a shoe-string budget. Their address is Woodland Wildlife Rehabilitators, 297 N. woodland Dr. Radcliff, KY 40160 (270) 351-3509. I don't think that they have e-mail or a website. If anyone finds out differently, I will post it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

give a brother a link to his website so we can donate!