Friday, October 30, 2009

Home of the Innocents sculpture installation

Monday was the scheduled day to install Meg's Home of the Innocents sculptures in Cave Hill Cemetery.

Steve McMillen (in the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife jacket) met us at the studio with the first light of day. We disassembled the sculptures and prepared them for the journey to Cave Hill. I recognized Johnny (on the right), who has worked for Bill Brummett Monument Company since 1985. It was a good feeling to have experienced help on this installation - I knew it was going to be a tough one.

Paul Roerig, the new owner of Brummett Monument Company, had provided his 1 ton truck for transporting the bronzes. They were safely snuggled on a mattress with lots of packing blankets.

After making the trip from the studio to Cave Hill, we began the installation by setting a granite base. Cave Hill had previously installed concrete footers - they had done a great job!

Next, we placed the 1 ton, lettered plinth.

Then came the most dreaded part of the job - getting the straps out from under the heavy plinth, and making a seal with monument putty between the stones. But, I had picked a great crew, and there were no mishaps.

Michael Higgs, of the Heritage Foundation, and Sharon Receveur, the committee chairperson, were just in time to see us install "Ascension" onto the stone bases.

The next site required the use of these fiberglas boards, so that the truck wouldn't leave ruts in the soft ground. Actually, we are moving the boards over, so that we can back Paul's truck beside the crane, to unload the 2nd bronze sculpture.

The granite base and plinth were set, just like at the other site. Here, we are installing "Metamorphosis".

The final stage of the installation involved pinning and epoxying 3 bronze plaques to each of the 2 monuments.

After attaching the stainless steel pins and spreading on a 2 part epoxy, I push the 70 lb. plaques into position.

We applied pressure to the plaques using ratchet straps, so that there was no chance of the plaques slipping out of position while the epoxy set. We left them on, over night, as the epoxy had a long cure time (the longer the cure time, the stronger the bond).

Meg snapped this shot of a HUGE mushroom, while we were zipping up the last of the work. You can see that it was twilight before we were through. We started our day in darkness, and ended it in darkness. Everyone was exhausted, by the time we got through. But, it looks like we had the pick of the week for weather. We got lucky, when we needed it most.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Victor Oolitic stone quarry

The main task for this week involved finishing the Home of the Innocents project. But, there was a gap in the action on Tuesday, and we used the opportunity to make a trip to Victor Oolitic near Bloomington.

This picture shows the radical difference between the blue-tinted St. Louis layer of limestone that lies over the top of the buff Salem Limestone layer that yeilds the tight-grained Indiana Limestone. The St. louis layer is full of cracks and seams, and is only good for gravel.

It's difficult to get a perspective on the scale of their operation. From this hill top, you can see about a 100 acres filled with quarry blocks and cut stone.

There is a huge selection of quarry blocks - row after row. I wanted to find 40,000 lbs of stone to make up a semi load. I was overwhelmed with choices, as it's all good stone.

While I searched the stacks for stone to buy, Meg photographed this strange stone. Petrified Sliced Bread?

This 24,000 lb. piece is 1 of 2 blocks that I found.

The next day, we received the granite bases for the Home of the Innocents project.

There was this ring around the sun, while we unloaded the stones.

It was late Saturday afternoon, before we finished attaching the 6 plaques and the 2 bronze sculptures.

I was in the mood to party! - and conveniently...Steve McMillen was hosting a Halloween bash across the road. About 20 Jack-o-lanterns led the way to the bonfire.

Thor made an appearance. Hopefully, I can get better pictures of the other guest, like Pope John, Captain Jack Sparrow, and so many strange and wonderful creatures.

Things got weird...(let's do it again!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Miles to go, before I sleep..."

This week was just a little bit too busy for my taste. But, it took a great turn when Meg received news that she had won the $42,000.00 commission for the Hux Cancer Center in Terre Haute, Indiana!

Monday, I was involved with a little bit of 'community service' at the St. Theresa Cemetary. (...and it was volunteer, not ordered by a judge).

On the way home, Meg moved this Rat snake out of the road, so that it wouldn't get run over.

Tuesday, we rented an Isuzu box truck with a lift gate from Ryder, to deliver our sculptures for the Holidaze exhibition in the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art. Meg snapped this shot of me mirroring the pose of her bronze baby elephant, as I slid it into the truck.

First, we installed my stone 'Riverfont' outside, in front of the Museum.

Then, we installed Meg's bronze "Ely" in a central location on the lower floor.

Wednesday, we rented a Dodge Sprinter van from Thrifty Truck Rental, where I spent the next 4 days, driving to Colorado and back, transporting Meg's Home of the Innocents bronzes. I fully recommend the diesel-powered Sprinter, if you need to rent a van. They come with cruise control, a captain's chair (engage!), and a sound system that's better than the one in our house.

From the signs, I got the impression that Kansas produced more than it's fair share of astronauts. (I guess there's something about the place that inspires people to achieve escape velocity?).

Seriously, Kansas has a rugged beauty, as this picture from the Flint Hills shows. I would love to find the time to explore the post rock region. There's a wealth of history to discover, such as multitudes of old buildings made from the native limestone.

This is the 'Front Range', as seen from Loveland, Colorado, which is the location of Art Castings bronze foundry.

Saturday evening, the sculptures arrived safely at our studio. Our neighbor, Steve McMillen, helped us unload the 2 sculptures.

The task for this coming week involves pinning these bronzes to their granite plinths, and installing the finished monuments in Cave Hill Cemetary of Louisville, Kentucky.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Roanoke benches and Centre Reunion

Starting with business first...

Work continued all week on the first of 2 benches for Highland Park in Roanoke, Virginia. I further refined the intertwining forms by applying a spiraling chisel texture, using an Italian made carbide chisel.

The sculpture was then stood upright, so that I could shape the curved inner form.

This is how it looked at the end of the week.

...and this is the view from the other side. I've been pleasantly surprised with the rate of progress, which is great, because I will have to switch gears for the next 2 weeks to install the Home of the Innocents monuments. The preview dedication is October 26th (coming up too fast!).

...and now for something completely different...There was a gathering of my fraternity brothers and other Centre friends at Dan French's house this Saturday.

Here's a picture of most of the attending alumni. Starting from left to right: (please forgive, and help correct, any misspellings or errors) Me, and Dan French's oldest son (break dancing?), Mark Kowalk (with bottle), Dan French (on knees), Richard Rolfes, Miles Barkley, Robert Groves, Suzanne Humphreys, Larry Pritchett (in back, check out, Dean Langdon ( with cellphone cam), Ray Edwards, Phil Recob, Kent and Brent Ballow, Reid Geiler, Cindy Pierce-Perkins, Kevin Perkins, and David Thomas. Later, we were joined by Ellen Bush, Mike McGurn, Tom Thurman, Latelle Lafollette, and David Ely. An awesome grouping of people!

Everyone was checking out this cool banner drawn by Ray Edwards. How do you catch up 25 years with a group like this, in a short few hours? You can't...just hang out and sing along with Larry and Richard while they play guitar, and enjoy the moment.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Roanoke Benches - week 2

Progress continued on the 1st of 2 benches for Highland Park in Roanoke, Virginia.

If you compare this picture with the one at the end of last week's post (below), you can see that I've laid the piece over onto its side. Then, I refined the intertwining forms with an air-powered hammer that drives a carbide tipped chisel (pictured).

After a couple days of that, it was time to bring out "the secret weapon" - a hydraulic-powered, water-cooled, diamond-tipped chain saw. In one morning, I cut out the 1,000 lb. piece of stone from the center of the sculpture. This scrap piece will also become a sculpture sometime in the future.

The sculpture was rolled back into the shop and flipped over with the gantry crane (not as simple as it sounds).

The intertwining shapes had been roughed in with a 4" diamond saw.

I used the air hammer to refine the shapes, just like on the other side. At this point, I am using a forked chisel to help thin and shape the intertwing forms. That's the essence of stone carving: thinning, refining, then thinning and refining some more, and so on...