Sunday, July 27, 2008


This week I began the 'Wave Vessel' commission for Chuck and Sarah O'Koon.

I needed a piece of stone 3' x 3' x 1'-6" and my only option was to cut into this block that is 3' x 3' x 5'-6". I needed to slice this piece lengthwise anyway, to get the block for my upcoming project "Nexus".

So, I got out my 'secret weapon', the hydraulic power unit and the diamond chain saw.

This is a closer look at the diamond chain saw.

I was able to make cuts on both ends and across the top 18" deep, but that left a section in the middle that the saw couldn't reach. I placed metal wedges in the saw cut and gently beat on them with the hammer. By bringing the tension up slowly on all 6 wedges at the same time, it set a crack across the remaining stone.

I used a pry bar and larger wedges to push the two sections apart and lay over the half that I need for the wave vessel.

I used the calipers to score the circular lines that will be the vessel edges. I used the other straight edge to lay out the cut to remove the excess stone (which will become another sculpture one day).

Using the hydraulic chain saw, I cut off the extra piece and then cut off the corners.

At this point, I have a rough formed block that weighs approximately one ton.

I placed the block on a table in the shade of the north side of the studio.

I'm removing stone from the inside of the vessel by making parallel slices with the diamond blade and breaking them out with the hammer and masonry chisel.

I've removed waste stone across the entire top and to a depth of 3 inches.

I removed stone around the outside of the circular edge and some of the larger corners. I wanted to flip the piece and get the bottom finished before I got too far ahead with the inside.

This will be a hemisphere 3 feet in diameter and 1-1/2 feet high.

This is the progress by the end of the week.

Meg snapped this shot of our neighborhood as we took a bike ride Wednesday evening. You can see the Ohio River between the soy bean field and the trees over on the Indiana side.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Time (and the living's easy)

It's turned into the humid, hot weather (over 90 degrees) that's typical for Kentucky in July.

This week, the work focused on the stone base for the newly finished Washington sculpture. I used the crane truck to get an 8 inch slab from the stone yard. A hammer drill (shown) put a hole through the center so that I could place a 1" stainless pin in the center. You have to start by drilling half way from the bottom, turn the piece over and meet the hole. Otherwise, it will break out a big chunk if you drill all the way through from one side. I use a square to make sure that the pin is perfectly perpendicular to the base.
Next, I used the crane truck to place the pre-drilled sculpture over the pin.
The sculpture and base preform were rolled back into the shop, so that I could work in the shade. I inscribed a line onto the top of the base using a divider, like I did with the edges. This will create a lens-shaped base that will follow the footprint of the bottom of the sculpture. I used the diamond wheel on the grinder (shown) to cut off the extra stone. The hammer was used to break off the pieces after they were cut.

After cutting off the main portions of waste stone with the large grinder, I carefully went back around the entire circumference with a smaller grinder and used the small level (resting on the timber) to make sure that the edges of the base were flat and vertically plumb. In this picture, the left side has been finished, while the right side remains to be worked.
This is the base after it was completely ground into shape.
This is the finished and polished collar base for the sculpture. Using the sander (in the picture), I went thru a schedule of coarse 36 grit, then progressively finer 80, 220 and 400 grits to get the final smoothness that I wanted.

Sunday afternoon, I had a choice: either do some housework, or go for a bike ride and maybe a little exploring.

I notice that my floor needs sweeping, still my bike gently creaks.

Our first side trip found these remains of an old bridge; built who-knows-when, across a creek with no name, going from nowhere to nowhere in particular. I'm sure it was important at the time.

Meg discovered that the huge culverts down by the slough (pronounced 'slew') were high and dry.

Go toward the light, Don, toward the light!

Race ya home!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ups and Downs

Life has its ups and downs, not to mention a few curves and side trips.

Everything was a major "Up" on the business side when I finished the stone portion of the commission for Oak Harbor, Washington on Friday. This is the front view.

This is a back corner view.

This is the opposite corner view. The next step will be crating and freighting the piece from Kentucky to Washington, after approval from the art committee. I will then fly out and oversee the construction of the berm and the installation of the sculpture.

Meg and I took a splashy stroll down Flint Run in the Yellowbank Wildlife Area this evening while we were waiting for better light conditions to photograph the finished sculpture.

On a personal note, the week started with a big "Down" because of the death and funeral of my great uncle Elroy Cart. He lived on 300 acres that has been in our family since the original land grant of 1792. He made his own wine, which may account for his healthy longevity of almost 91 years.

The personal "Up" came on the weekend with the great wedding of my cousin Tara. It was one of the best weddings that I've ever been to - and it's been a season for weddings (3 in 3 weeks!).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back to Normal (?)

Compared to the previous week, this one was almost normal (whatever that is).

The first half of the week involved final shaping and sanding of the leaves. This is the progress on the front side.

This is the progress on the back side. The tool in the foreground is a die-grinder. It spins small diamond burrs for removal of stone in hard to reach places. I was using it to shape the backs of the leaves.

The next step involved making the edges of the seed shell and then undercutting the edge to create the sense of the interior space in the shell. I use a metal divider to score a line so that the thickness is the same everywhere.

This is the front view to show the undercutting and defining of the shell edges.

This is the other side, showing the edges being defined. The only remaining work for next week is clean-up of the intertwining forms and making a base. The clean-up phase is tedious and fussy, but a necessary part of the craftsmanship. Next week, I should be able to post pictures of the finished stone portion of this sculpture project.

Saturday, Meg and I attended our neighbor's housewarming party. Steve McMillen and Alice Kimble own the 100 acres across the road and they had just built a nice home on a bluff that overlooks the Ohio River. At dark, someone brought out a bunch of glowsticks and the kids covered themselves with them.

Everyone drove down to Chenault Bottoms to watch a huge fireworks show that was sponsored by Derby, Indiana.

Sunday, we went to Otter Creek Park to see the antique tractor show, as I'm a fan of Heavy Metal.

We hiked to the ruins of Overton Mill which operated on Otter Creek between 1808 and 1884.

Our main objective was to get out of the house and have a little fun.