Over the last few weeks, I have taken a little time away from a larger project to carve a smaller piece. I always have several pieces going at the same time, especially when I am working on a larger work. In the video below, I have recorded a time lapse of the carving of this sculpture from its start as a rough block, all the way to the finish process. You will see that the most time spent is the sanding. It is the part that makes this piece of limestone able to hold the gloss sheen that the sealer adds. I also used linseed oil on this piece to give it some color. Watch the video and let me know what you think.
Indiana Limestone for Sale
I started carving an Indiana Limestone vessel a few months ago. However, I have been so busy with other projects that I have not been able to get back to it. The stone is a cut off from my Norton commission, "Cor Liberum". I am happy to say that the off-fall from that project has provided a steady source of stone for a while.
This piece will be similar to the piece I carved about a year ago, "Peace Lilly". I will be sanding and polishing this piece to at least 400 grit paper and then putting a sealer on it. I will also add a wax finish to the piece. It will give a rich color to the piece that is not typical of limestone. However, it is a very warm and pleasing finish for indoor pieces.
For the more tech savvy folks in the cloud, posting 35 videos may seem like small potatoes, but some of you will understand that this is quite the accomplishment. It has taken several years to get to get to this mark. Although, over the last month, I have posted 21 of the 35, so I am on a roll.
I find it fascinating that some people enjoy seeing the carving process as much as I do. Now, keep in mind that when I say some people, I really mean some!! I have a grand total of 1 subscriber and the most views of one of my videos currently sits at 221 views. (I am sure a lot of them are my own views.). All that aside, I really enjoy doing them as I love seeing the progression of a sculpture. My favorite type is the time-lapse. You can really see the progression of a day of carving, something you don't really experience as you are actually carving. So, take a look at the attached video, this is number 35!
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!
So what do you do when you have a 12" thick block and need about 6"? Simple, use feathers and wedges to cleanly split the block and get it down to a reasonable size. In the video below, I show an easy way to very quickly split a block by drilling a few holes and then letting pressure do its work.
When I first started carving, If I needed to get rid of a lot of stone, I would get my point out and start chipping away. It would take me a great deal of time and I would waste a bunch of stone. Now, I break out a hammer drill and some feathers and wedges and I am able to cut the block in half and I have two useable pieces.
Over the last few weeks is I have been unable to work down in the studio on my larger work because of a sick dog. The only good things about this is that I have had time to work on some of the small pieces that I can do in the house.
Since February last year, I spent the vast majority of my time on a large public commission for Norton Hospital. The sculpture was too large and complex to have time to work on anything other than this one piece. I had other commissioned work, but could never feel confident to get to that, much less the myriad of ideas I have in my head just waiting to find their way into a piece of stone. That commission installed in April. Once complete, I immediately began work on the two larger pieces that have been delayed. I started carving a fountain that is a commissions well as an abstract piece for a show later this summer. While it was great to start in on some fresh ideas and pieces, I still had some small work that I had started prior to starting the Norton commission, as well as the many ideas that are just waiting to burst out of my head. I really thought that after the Norton sculpture was completed I would have time for both the larger work and the smaller pieces. It just hasn't happened.
So, two weeks ago one of our dogs got sick. Because of the nature of the illness, she needed constant supervision. That meant that I couldnt work in the studio. While that has put some stress on finishing the larger work, it has provided the room in the schedule to complete a few of the smaller pieces that I has already started as well as get some ideas out of my head.
The untitled tortoise shell alabaster piece that is pictured here is one of the pieces I started over a year ago. Because of the difficulty of the stone to carve, I had set it aside in favor of other pieces several times. That piece is now complete.
I also had started a soapstone baboon that was not going in the right direction. I set that one aside as well and had not been able to return to it. I have started back into this one as well. (You can also see my dog is up and moving now!!)
Not only did I have the two (and many others) that I started and have been unable to get back to, I also have been looking at so many of the pieces of stone in my studio that I have not been able to start. That has now changed.
I have started and completed two other small pieces. The first was a piece that actually broke off of the large figure from my Norton commission. When it broke off, I was devastated. Several times I started to throw the piece out because it disgusted me. For some reason I never did. I am glad I did not, as I feel it turned out into a pretty nice piece. I also started and finished a piece of Bordiglio Marble. This is a piece of marble that has been split off of a 3/4 life-size figure I am in progress on. It was a thin piece and I thought I saw something else in it, but it changed its mind and we ended up with the nice little piece that is on the double poles.
So, the good news is that my dog is on the mend and next week I will be able to get back into the studio. But what it taught me is that I still need to take a bit of time to work on the small pieces that have provided such a great sense of accomplishment this past two weeks.
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.
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.
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!