Wednesday, March 28, 2012

a short cut to...

...Mushrooms!...and all the local Hobbits are combing the woods for the brief annual appearance of Morels. It was probably this, that inspired me to make a mushroom-shaped stone bench.

I began with this piece of scrap from a previous commission. I thought that this 1,000 lb. piece of stone would make a good mushroom cap.

I ground the top into shape, rigged it up and...

flipped it over to carve the gills with a tooth-shaped chisel.

I found this piece of stone to use for the stem. I cut the bottom flat with a grinder. Then, I drilled a series of holes to split off the extra stone, using 'feathers and wedges'.

I made sure that the 2 pieces fit together before doing the final carving.

This is the final results: it won't fry up in butter, but it will sit 2 to 3 people comfortably.

Other news...we went to the recently re-opened Otter Creek Park. Meg snapped this photo of fractal-like backwater eddies in the creek.

We found this old section of dry-laid stone wall that was probably from the time when the mill was in operation on the creek. There was also a town close by, called "Plain Dealing" (circa 1790-1850?), which is totally non-existant now.

We found this hoof-shaped formation of flowstone along the cliff that borders the creek.

Today, we found 3 baby possums on the road near the end of our driveway. They were still clinging to the body of their mother who had got hit by a car. We took them to Monica Wilcox of Woodland Wildlife Rehabilitators. They do an enormous task on a shoe-string budget. Please send these people a donation - they perform miracles and have totally given up their lives to help distressed wildlife. Their website is

This is 1 of 5 baby flying squirrels that were brought in by electric line workers. (Their mother had chosen a bad place to make her nest).

These are 2 of 8 Barred Owls that she is caring for. She has many other animals in her care. (all photos copyright 2012 Meg White)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Everything Gone Green

This week has really seen a change in the seasons - it's spring!

I finally finished the sprout bench and made a base for it, too.

This functional sculpture is 45" long by 21" high by 18" deep, Indiana Limestone and weighs approximately 1,000 lbs.

Other news for this week is the completion of a 1/8 scale model for what I hope will be a new commission to be made in Indiana Limestone, 72" high by 37" wide by 27" deep. I am making a plaster cast of the plasticene model. Here, I have made a part-line shim in clear plastic and have sprayed everything with mold release.

I placed the model into a bucket. The part-line shim was custom cut for this particular plastic bucket. Then, I mixed molding plaster and poured it over the model.

The next morning, I removed the plaster mold from the bucket. I carefully separated the mold and removed the clay model.

I took the two halves outside and sprayed them with paint, which I hoped would help work as a release agent when it came time to pour in the plaster for the model. I also used the spray mold release, however, next time I might try a spray graphite. It didn't want to release very easily, and fought me every inch of the way.

I was worried about the plaster mold leaking when I tried to pour for the model. I used a ratchet strap to tighten it together and put it into a large container to catch any leaking plaster. Actually, I decided to make the model in Ultracal, which is a lot harder than molding plaster. It is also a different color; dark grey against the bright white of molding plaster. I'm very happy that I had the Ultracal, as I'm sure that it wouldn't have worked with just molding plaster.

After letting it harden overnight, I chiseled off the outer mold of plaster.

This is the Ultracal model. It has a few air bubble holes, but that won't affect its use as a working model.

Additional news at the studio - someone left these children on a bench near our outer gate. There is also a dragonfly ornament near their feet.

They also left these concrete mushrooms. A random act of kindness - How Cool!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sprout Bench, and Heavy Weather

This is a scale model in plasticene clay for a functional sculpture that I am currently making.

When I blocked out the previous bench commission, I had some large pieces of scrap that I intended to carve into other sculptures. This piece came out of the center of the first bench preform.

I moved the piece into the shop with the crane truck. Then, I cut the bottom flat, checking my progress with a level.

Next, I flipped the piece upright and began to rough in the shapes with an air hammer and large grinder.

I continued to refine the forms with a large grinder and a smaller 4" grinder.

I managed to get one of the holes clear through the piece. Not bad for a week's worth of work.

Friday, they were calling for 2-1/2" hail. We padded some of the finished sculptures and I moved the finished bench back inside.

We only got pea sized hail. You can see some of it in the lower portion of this picture. Two funnel clouds formed just to the north of us. They developed into an F3 and F4 tornadoes that wiped out Maryville, Indiana and killed at least 13 people.