monumental sculpture

My First Video Over 300 Views and My Fastest to 100 Views by Mike McCarthy

On July 29th, I posted that I had hit a milestone on my YouTube site. I had posted 30 videos and one of them was at 221 views. Since then, I have posted a few more videos and have hit another milestone on views.

My most popular video is still the video on splitting limestone with feathers and wedges. It is a time-lapse video that shows me splitting the off-fall from one of my birds for "Cor Liberum". I know many folks who post on YouTube would laugh at being happy about getting a video over the 300 mark in views, but everyone has to start somewhere. This video currently has 328 views.

The other cool thing is that my videos are increasing in views faster now than they previously had. It is partly that I have been sharing them on this blog, but there must be something more to it than that. For example, the splitting limestone video was posted on August 20, 2017. My latest video, "Carving an Indiana Limestone Vessel" was posted August 28, 2018, and has already reached 108 views. While the splitting limestone does far exceed the views of the vessel video has received almost 1/3 the views in 6 days. This one is definitely an anomaly as many of my videos have not even come close to 100 views. But the cool thing is that all of the videos are steady increasing in views. So, if you like to see the way stone is worked and carved, subscribe to my channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLZ4k8l6V2l_otGckDxxQ5A and watch my videos!

“If The Spirit Is Willing” is Installed at Josephine Sculpture Park by Mike McCarthy

Mark Hendren loading my sculpture. 

Mark Hendren loading my sculpture. 

All things happen for a reason. Last year at the outdoor sculpture show at Hidden Hill Nursery and Sculpture Garden two of my three pieces sold. That is a great show, but I was a little disappointed because I thought the one that did not sell was the strongest piece. “If the Spirit is Willing” was the sculpture that did not sell. 

Fast forward a year. I decided to enter “If the Spirit is Willing” into a juried show at Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, KY. There were minimum size requirements for this show so that limited the entries. However, of the 20 entries, my sculpture was one of eight selected. That is always a great feeling to get that notice that your work has been accepted.  

So on Thursday I met Karen Terhune over where my sculpture was, picked her up and brought her home  then my next door neighbor, Mark Hendren loaded it on his trailer and I drove it out to the park.

The steel piece sitting behind my sculpture will be moved. 

The steel piece sitting behind my sculpture will be moved. 

I met the owner of the park, Melanie VanHouten at about 8:45. We set a limestone base and then the real fun began. We got to play with a big crane! I think cranes are an amazing engineering feat. The operator was incredible. He boomed over and dropped the hook right where I needed it. He lifter and set the dry fit with the smoothest touch I have seen. Lifted so I could get the safety out and reset in no time. Even though he set it so fast, nothing seemed rushed. It was great. 

So, if you are in Frankfort, KY, come out and see “If the Spirit is Willing” and the rest of the sculpture at Josephine Sculpture Park.

Progress on the Fountain From a Different View by Mike McCarthy

I have put together another view of the progress of my commissioned Indiana Limestone fountain. I typically do both a GoPro video as well as a time lapse video from a set point. They give two totally different experiences. In my last post, I shared a GoPro of this same project. This video is from the set camera. As you will see, the face started out with a stolen left eye and no mouth. Over the night of carving, she started to get a little definition into her eye area and started forming a mouth.

Ready to Get a Little Dizzy? Fast Motion Carving Video by Mike McCarthy

I am working on a new commission. This one is an Indiana Limestone fountain that will be a similar theme as a bench this client bought from me a few years back. This is the first fountain I have done, so it will be interesting. This video shows about 6 hours of work shortened down to a little over 4 minutes. If you get motion sickness, it might give you a bit of that. I took this with a GoPro camera on my head. I think it is pretty fun to see all of the motion!

Carving an Indiana Limestone Fountain - Day 1 by Mike McCarthy

I started a new commission a few weeks ago. However, the first 3 weeks have Baan digging the stone out from under a bunch of other stone, then flattening the bottom so I could stand it up. Last night, I finally got the piece stood up and started carving.

The block started out around 3000 pounds. I took a little off of it to get the bottom flat. Now I will be removing a bunch of weight. To start I used feathers and wedges to split the corners off the top to begin shaping the roundness of the head. I left a lot more than a typical head as this piece will have foliage rather than hair. It is going to compliment a piece that I did several years ago for the same folks. 

After I got the corners knocked off, I used a diamond saw to remove basic material. I cut kerfs in the stone then use a hammer drill to quickly remove the pieces to the score line, I used to just start carving with my air hammer. If I were to still work that way, this project would take aver a year to complete. Hy hope is that this will be completed by the end of the year.

Once I remove a lot of the basic material, I alternate between the air hammer and the diamond blade to rough in the shapes. The air hammer allows me to start creating the forms and then I can come back with the saw to remove any waste. In the video below, you will see the progress I made in just a few hours.

More Progress on the Untitled Indiana Limestone Piece I am Carving by Mike McCarthy

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I have made a lot of great progress on the Indiana Limestone piece I am currently working on. It is a pretty complicated piece to carve because of the turns and twists going on throughout the piece. Until it gets narrowed down in some areas, I have to put a lot of pressure on the stone where the gaps are tight. If I try to go too fast in narrowing to lessen the pressure, I can get rid of stone that I might need later on. 

Much of this guess work could be eliminated if I did a moquette first. However, I am not a fan of doing that for these free form pieces. I think the fun in creating this type of sculpture is to just start drilling, carving and grinding until you think you are finished. Now, at times that leads to pieces that get stuck and don't want to cooperate. You get going and realize that area that you just spent a ton of time on looks terrible. I have several pieces that are sitting on the side of the studio that are in that state. I will look at them every once in a while to see if I can figure something out to make them better. Sometimes, you have to get rid of a section before it ever gets where you want it.

With this piece, I thought I might have that problem with the lower section. Fortunately, it is moving in the right direction. I still have a little left to figure out at the bottom of the piece. Specifically, I have to figure out how it will tie into the bottom inch of the piece that I plan to leave a a mounting section. But, it is definitely moving along well and I think I have a pretty good plan. Ultimately, this piece will sit on top of another piece of Limestone that is 18" x 18" x 36". This will give the piece the height I want to get the lower section more viewable.

Starting A New Commission by Mike McCarthy

I recently finished my largest commission and have been working on doing some non-commissioned pieces. That is very freeing, but it is also very fun and amazing that someone is interested enough in my work that they would be willing to trust me to create a piece for them without seeing it completed. So today I started in on a new commission. 

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My new piece will be a fountain that will match a bench that the owners purchased from me a few years ago. I have never done a fountain before so this will be a cool experience. I will be carving this piece out of Indiana Limestone, the same stone as the bench they already have.

Starting on a new piece is fun, but there is a bit of not so fun part to it. One of the pieces I want to use is buried under a ton (probably literally) of other stone. So the not so fun parts of this commission will be to dig out this piece of stone! 

New Sculpture in the Works by Mike McCarthy

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From June of 2017 to April of 2018, I really only worked on my largest commission, “Cor Liberum”, a sculptural experience for Norton Hospital, Audubon campus. While I enjoyed working on that piece, because of the scale and timeframe, I did not work on anything else. I have so many ideas in my head that need to get out. This is the only time I wish I were a painter. They can move a lot faster. 

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So, once I finished the Norton piece, I have been scatter brained. I started carving so many pieces I can’t keep them strait. Slowly I am narrowing down the work. I finished two pieces which helped. I have set two others aside. I work on one just on the weekends and the final one, the largest of them, is also closing in on being done. This is good as I have two new commissions to get started on.