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The "Hotel Series" is Complete by Mike McCarthy

“My Heart” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Alabaster

“My Heart” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Alabaster

So what do you do when you are stuck out of town for work? More importantly, when you are there for several weeks at a time? Do you watch a lot of movies, go for walks, workout at the hotel pool or gym? All of those are fine ideas. But what I think is a better one is to bring along a piece of stone and do a little carving! That’s right, I said bring along a piece of stone and carve away.

“From the Beginning to the End” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Indiana Limestone

“From the Beginning to the End” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Indiana Limestone

“Masquerade” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Soapstone

“Masquerade” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Soapstone

This does take a little planning and thought. For instance, stone is heavy. So, the piece you choose to bring along has to be a small enough piece that it will fit in your luggage and not make it weigh too much. You also need tools. The only tools I think travel well, don’t make a mess, and don’t make too much noise are rasps. However, rasps can not be carried on a plane, so you have to check a bag. Be prepared to have your luggage checked by the TSA. I typically get one of their love notes in my luggage saying they have inspected the contents. Finally, you have to prepare the room you are going to work so you don’t create a mess for the cleaning staff. I typically use a towel laid out that I can then shake into a garbage bag or can.

Thought it all through? Good, you are all set. Think of the great dedicated carving time you could have when you are stuck in a town where you don’t really want to be. Bring along a stone and some tools and create some beautiful art!

The three photos in this article are all pieces I worked on over the last month while out of town for an installation. I only did the rough out then brought them back for the final sanding, polishing and basing. Bringing along some stone is a great way for me to not hate having to travel for work.

“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.

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.

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! 

The Making of "Dance" by Mike McCarthy

"Dance" is my latest sculpture. It was carved from Indiana Limestone. This is one of the best stones to carve for outdoor sculpture. It a soft stone that will hold an edge very well. This time-lapse video covers 7 days of carving.

This video is a time-lapse video of the making of "Dance", a contemporary sculpture carved from Indiana Limestone by Mike McCarthy. This 2:30 video covers 7 days of carving.

The Making of "If The Spirit Is Willing" by Mike McCarthy

This is a short (2:30) time-lapse video showing the making of my latest monumental sculpture "If The Spirit Is Willing". I didn't start the time-lapse until after 4 days of carving, but the rest of the process is captured here. You can see the change over close to 50 clips representing about 43 days of carving. They are melded into one short movie.

This is a short time lapse video of roughly 45 days of carving on this 3000 pound block of Indiana Limestone to create "If The Spirit Is Willing", my latest monumental sculpture.