Sunday, August 10, 2008

Victor Oolitic Stone Company

The high point of the week was our visit to Victor Oolitic Stone Company near Bloomington, Indiana to get a load of stone. I will show pictures of their operation at the end of this post.

Monday, I polished the Wave Vessel and moved it out of the studio for powerwashing.

Saturday, I polished and drilled the base. The vessel was attached to the base with a brass pipe to hold the piece and allow draining. A drain channel in the bottom, back side allows water to move from under the piece. The base came home on the Wednesday stone run - you can see it on the pallet, top left (on edge) in the picture of the loaded truck below.

The rest of the week was devoted to the creation of a pair of entry / gateway sculptures that are based on this rendition. I've been struggling with the title - I think the winner is "Reveal", although I've considered "Inner Truth". The composition is based on Geodes, specifically the Amethyst 'Cathedrals'. It represents the revealing of inner beauty hidden inside a rough exterior.

The first half of the pair was moved to the shady side of the studio. This piece is 6 foot long by 2-1/2 foot by 2-1/2 foot and weighs approximately 3,000 lbs. I've already drawn the line to make the bottom flat (on left) and drawn the lines for the inside cavity.

The first task is making the bottom flat. I make a cut as deep as the blade will go, then break off the waste stone with a hammer and make another cut. Then I check the flatness with a level and grind where needed.

I remove the bulk of waste stone from the inner cavity by making parallel cuts with the saw and breaking the pieces out with a hammer.

I used the air hammer and carbide-tipped chisel to clean out the inside cavity and create a preform surface to begin the inlay of the marble pieces and carve the intertwining forms.

The next step involved the creation of the 3 rounded marble forms that will be inlaid into the cavity. This is a piece of Brazilian White Marble and is scrap from the School for the Blind commission by Paul Fields. My apprenticeship to Paul in 1987-90 involved working on that commission and one of the perks was being given some of the waste pieces.

I used the diamond saw to cut it into 3 elliptical preforms.

I used a grinder to shape the pieces into rounded 'cabochons' - flat bottoms, elliptical outline and rounded tops. The piece on the right has been bush textured by the air hammer. This makes a very sparkly surface when its in direct sunlight.

The next step involves inlaying the marble pieces into the stone cavity.

At one point during the week, work was interrupted when a cold front moved through the area. I snapped this picture of a funnel cloud forming over the studio.

Wednesday, Meg and I rented a flatbed truck from Penske and made the 100 mile trip to Bloomington for a load of stone. Most of the way is across pretty countryside, but hard to make time on the hilly and winding roads.

We had a little time to kill before they could load us, so we took pictures of their operation. This is the quarry where they cut the big blocks from the ground. A group of 3 men are standing on a 250 ton piece that has been cut from the face and turned over. They are drilling holes and splitting it into blocks that will weigh 10,000 to 20,000 lbs. apiece.

The large quarry blocks are moved to the building with the band saws. The diamond band saws cut the block into slabs.

This is a better look at the band saw.

The slabs are then moved to another building that has a series of bridge saws. The thinner slabs are cut with a 3 foot diameter saw, the thicker pieces are cut with this 5 foot diameter saw.

One of the workers pointed out this cut block to us, which was ordered by another sculptor. Nobody knew who the sculptor was or what the piece would be - it'd be interesting to know.

Our order was loaded onto our rented truck. Most of this load will become bases for our sculptures.

Meg wanted to drive all the way up and back; which was fine by me as I could sit back and look out the window.

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