Limestone

See My Indiana Limestone Vessel Carved from Beginning to End by Mike McCarthy

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.

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!

Carving a Limestone Vessel by Mike McCarthy

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.

“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.

I Posted My 30th Video on YouTube by Mike McCarthy

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!

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.

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.

Finally...The "Born From The Broken" And Some Others Are Finished by Mike McCarthy

Untitled Bordiglio Marble Contemporary Sculpture

Untitled Bordiglio Marble Contemporary Sculpture

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.

Stained Indiana Limestone Sculpture - "Born from the Broken"

Stained Indiana Limestone Sculpture - "Born from the Broken"

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. 

Tortoise Shell Alabaster Contemporary Sculpture

Tortoise Shell Alabaster Contemporary Sculpture

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.

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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.