Sunday, October 12, 2008

carving alabama marble

There have been a swarm of installations lately, and that has kept me out of the studio. Meg and I returned from her LSU installation with about 5 ton of Alabama Marble - and we're both eager to see how it works. I spent the first half of the week doing design work. The idea that I liked best is called "Falling Star", which was inspired by the Sylacauga Meteorite.

I printed off a scale version of the design, gridded it off and transferred the design onto the stone slab.
I inscribed the design with a diamond blade, because the wax crayon will rub off as you work it. I used a railroad jack to raise each end to place boards under the design and to catch the separate pieces as I cut into the block.
I used my hydraulic diamond chainsaw to cut off the big pieces of scrap. These pieces will become other sculptures.
So...what's it like? Hard. It's taking about twice as long to cut as Indiana Limestone.
I used a pry bar to separate the cut pieces, so that I could move the preform with the crane truck.
Marble is a little bit heavier than limestone, so all the fun of moving heavy objects is still the same.
I used the 10" diamond wheel to cut the outline of the design. By this point, I'm beginning to see that the difference with carving marble is that you have to both 'tighten up' and relax. 'Tighten up' because the erratic crystalline nature of the stone is unforgiving - and relax, because you're going to be there a while. Diamond cuts the stone well, but MUCH slower than limestone.
The high point of the week was going to Tom Burkhart's birthday party out on his farm on Saturday night. Tom slow-cooked a bunch of chicken wings and a huge pork roast in his smoker - lots of great food! After dinner, Venus made her appearance above the horizon, followed by Mars. Far overhead, Saturn chased Jupiter across the sky.
Tom started a fire in a big hollow log that he'd stood upright.
The fire gets started quick because of the 'chimney effect'. I never would have thought of using a hollow log this way. It's pretty cool, once you've seen how it works.
hot fire...cold beer...( life's tough!) moths to a flame!

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