Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Grist Mill in Dubois Hollow

Meg and I had a great adventure on Sunday. We had permission to check out the remains of an old grist mill that is located in the woods fairly close to where we live. We are keeping the exact location secret, so that people don't bother the historic site ( and the land owners).

When you come upon the 3 story stone structure, it's a bit of a shock. It is made from dry laid sandstone blocks that were hewn and course-laid. This is the east wall. The original builder and owner was named Biddle. I have a great grandmother Biddle from this area, and I wonder if there is a connection. I was told that it took 7 to 9 years for him to build it. A team of oxen helped drag the stones and hoist them into place. They were young when it started and ready to retire when it was finished.

This is the west wall. We don't know when it was built, but guesses have it in the late 1700's or early 1800's.

This detail near the west wall shows where the water wheel rested. By looking at where the shaft went through the wall, I estimate that the wheel was about 20 feet high.

Inside the mill, resting against the south retaining wall, is this 'mystery stone'. It was hand drilled with a star drill and split. It has shaped ends to fit somewhere and 3 notches along the front. What was it's purpose? Someone went to a lot of trouble with it.

One of the coolest features is this box flue. I've never seen anything like it.

Meg took this shot from inside the mill where the flue rises up through the wall to the covered box flue.

Just uphill from the mill is the remains of a long, low stone and earthen dam.

It has filled in with dirt over the last 150 years. But, they would let it fill up, from water that came from a spring uphill and then open the gate to let it go down a wooden race to turn the mill wheel.

This is the remains of the spring house that is up the hill from the dam. This is a little cave spring, and it was running pretty good when we were there. The flow is never enough to turn a wheel. That's why they'd let it fill the pond and do the grinding in batches.

At the top of the hill is the chimney for the cabin where the owner lived.

Check out this diamond chisel pattern on the sandstone chimney stones.

These are steps for the ladies to dismount from carraiges. ( a touch of class, even in remote wilderness).

This marble tombstone, with these excellently carved hands, belongs to a man named Nathaniel Dubois, who was the last person to run the mill. He had a tavern in Louiville, and he was using the mill to make whiskey. After running off a barrel, he hired a young boy to help him move the barrel and hide it. The boy told a local Marshall, who knocked on the cabin door. When Dubois opened the door, he reached up for his hat, but the marshall thought he was reaching for a gun and shot him. He died February 24, 1868. His widow went back to Louisville after burying him here about 50 yards west of the cabin. The mill fell into disuse, and the story ends here.

Bench Finished

I've finished the functional sculpture in Indiana Limestone.

This is about where I left off last week. I polished the bottom and detailed the vine shapes. Then, I put the bench on 'spin cycle' and finished the other side, too.

Here are the final pictures of the finished piece, after moving it back outside and power washing it.

Another view as you walk around the piece...

I will live with it for a bit and probably find fussy litttle things to clean up. Then, I will spray on a breathable sealer to help keep air-borne grime off the sculpture. The last phase is delivery and installation.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

carving a bench and freezing fog

The week started out pretty cold, with about an inch of snow on Valentines Day.

Work on the bench continued unabated. I flipped the bench back up onto its feet after finishing the carving on the bottom.

The top and sides were still roughly formed.

I honed them into their proper shapes using a diamond blade on a 9" Bosch grinder.

Then, I realized that finishing up the carving on the vine shapes would be easier if it was back onto its side. (up, down, up, down). I sanded the bottom of the feet, and the bottom and sides of the geometric parts with a 36 grit sander. I will finish them with an 80 grit pass, then 120, 240 and a final pass with 400 grit. This will bring out the true color of the stone.

As I put the final touches on the vines, I refined the ends and created these negative spaces, to add visual interest.

Friday, we had a freezing fog. Meg went out early with the camera and caught these images. They are not trimmed or enhanced by photoshop - just good straight shooting by a trained eye. Check them out!

The sun....far, far away (roughly 95 million miles, I'm told).

The foggy sun reflected in Yellow Bank Creek, between our (not so yellow) bank and our island.

Frosty brrrss! (all photos copyright 2012 Meg White).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bench Bottom and Crate to Colorado

The unseasonably warm weather has left, and winter has returned (I knew it wouldn't last). But, "the show must go on!"

I continued to make refinements on the functional limestone sculpture with the air hammer.

Before I got too far ahead, I knew that I wanted to catch the bottom side up. I moved the gantry crane into position, rigged up the sculpture...

...and laid it over, onto its side. (that's a deceptively easy sounding sentence - 1,500 lbs of carved stone doesn't just roll over on command).

I began to carve the bottom.

In the tradition of 'restless rocks', I stood it back up, spun it 180 degrees, and laid it over onto its other side. I was then able to carve most of the bottom.

The plaster molds for the Tree of Life commission were cured enough to make the journey across the Great Plains to the bronze foundry. We used shrink wrap to fasten each mold together. The best way to ship molds is to put them back together, although it is better to store them with each half lying flat and the rubber piece on top of its plaster mother mold.

We wrapped each mold in carpet padding. I built a shelf for the mold of the tree (which is rather large) so that its weight isn't bearing down on the first layer of molds(the leaves).

The crate was weighed, and the freight company was contacted to get a quote number, bill of lading and a 'pick up' scheduled.

We loaded the crate onto the back of our crane truck, so that it could be loaded into the back of the freight truck.

We use R & L Trucking for our freight needs. Given the chance, I think that the driver, Steve, would be more than ready to take the crate to Colorado personally. Turns out that he's a big skiing enthusiast and the Colorado mountains are one of his favorite destinations.

One of the activities that we did recently was to attend the opening at Pyro gallery for Bob Lockhart (the paintings on the wall with GREAT absurd titles) and Mike McCarthy ( who is peeking at the camera from behind one of his sculptures). Mike has sold 8 out of 10 sculptures in the show already! I suspect that we'll be seeing great things from him in the near future.

Meg put some bird seed in the mouth of her Sea Lion bench. It didn't take the birds any time to figure it out. (all photos copyright 2012 Meg White).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stone Bench work continues

The weather has been moderately warm this week, and work on the new functional sculpture commission has continued at a brisk pace.

I used the 4 inch grinder with a diamond blade to begin forming in some of the swirling sculptural elements.

I moved around to the south end of the bench and began forming in shapes.

Then, I started using an air hammer to further refine these shapes.

This is the north end, at the start of the week...

This is how it looks now (what a difference a week makes!).

Other news...we got gutters put up on the studio...

...and none too soon. It's been raining heavy at times this week. This is a portion of the 1/2 mile drive back to the studio.

A little further up the drive - a rain deer.

...and something it left behind - a deer hair mustache. (all photos copyright 2012 Meg White.)