"Life Balance", a Sculpture in African Wonderstone - The First Time I have Carved this Stone by Mike McCarthy

This contemporary sculpture titled “Life Balance” is the first time I have carved a piece in African wonderstone. It is a bit of a deceptive stone in that it is easy to shape, but difficult to polish. The other difficulty I had with this piece was basing it. I had the piece completed for over 3 months ago but couldn’t figure out the size and shape of the base. I think I finally got it. I like the way the small base emphasizes the balancing of the piece. It has a very small point of connection that gives it that precarious feel and further emphasizes the balance aspect. I am forever trying to get tiny connection points on my sculptures! Sometimes, I drive myself nuts!!


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.

Using Wood Stain on Indiana Limestone by Mike McCarthy

I have started experimenting with some of my limestone pieces. I have used wood stains to add a different feeling to the work. This is my second attempt. I don’t have a title for this one yet, and it is still in progress. I have to figure out how to base it. I have had many suggestions to hang it. But, that is beside the point. As you can see, this piece is not the standard color of Indiana limestone. I used a blue universal wood dye to add color. I think it is pretty cool. What I don’t know is how it will hold the color if it becomes an outdoor sculpture. That is one of the fun parts of being an artist is that you get to experiment to see what happens. 


Ever Wanted To Learn To Carve Stone? Now's Your Chance! by Mike McCarthy

The Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea shared this post on their facebook page. I will be teaching a beginning carving class at the center this summer. If you ever wanted to learn to carve stone, now's your chance. We will be carving an abstract bird. Does it look a little familiar? it is the model for the birds from "Cor Liberum". Don't wait, sign up!

Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

April 13 at 10:10am · 

We will be holding Learnshops here at the Kentucky Artisan Center from July 13- 26. Berea Tourism's website for the Festival of Learnshops is now open for registering for an amazing array of creative opportunities. 
Mike McCarthy will be teaching a stone carving workshop - carving a bird from limestone like shown here. His workshop will be held at the Center on July 14. Go to and look for "Festival of Learnshops" - and go to the "wood, metal, stone" section.


A Change In Direction by Mike McCarthy

This is the start of the piece. I thought it needed the base as well as the solid form above.

This is the start of the piece. I thought it needed the base as well as the solid form above.

The stone disappeared. 

The stone disappeared. 

Sometimes when I first start an abstract piece, I have a set idea for where I want to go with it. As I get into the piece, it either says “yes, this is where I want to go”, or “I don’t think so!”  My current piece was the latter. I started with a piece that had broken off of the caregiver in “Cor Liberum”. When I first say it, i thought I saw an elegant solid shape that just needed some minor adjustments to give it better balance. As I started making those adjustments, I just felt it wasn’t getting there. So, I decided to cut about 4 inches off the bottom and cut a groove down the center of it. These are not easy decisions as they can ruin hours of work and create another rock for the scrap pile. (When I used to carve wood, these decisions pften created fire wood.) however, sometimes the stone agrees with your decisions. With this piece, I think you will agree that the stone did want to go in this direction. 

Another view

Another view