turtle shell alabaster

New Sculpture in the Works by Mike McCarthy


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. 


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.  

Three In-progress Pieces are Under Way by Mike McCarthy

After working on my Norton Hospital commission for so long, I have had a flood of ideas flowing from my brain that I almost can't control them. I have started on several new pieces and have a new commission that I also have been working on the moquette to show the client. I have set a rotation to work on the various pieces so that I keep sane!

The first is from a piece of Tortoise Shell Alabaster. This is a really cool piece of alabaster I have had for about a year. I started carving it soon after I got the rock, but it is a very fragile stone so I put it aside. Then the Norton Commission happened and I was swamped. Now that "Cor Liberum is done, I saw the stone sitting on the shelf and it started calling to me to say I know where I want to go. It has such great color and dimension, it was telling me all I had to do is cut some cool shapes in it and it would work. 

The second piece I am working on right now is a larger Indian Limestone piece that I am going to submit to the Josephine Sculpture Garden show. Josephine is a very cool sculpture garden in Frankfort, KY. The owner, Melanie VanHouten converted her family farm into a sculpture park. I really hope that my work is chosen to be part of the show as I think the garden is such an awesome deal. So, I am back to working on a piece I started about two months ago when I couldn't stand to not get the idea out of my head and committed to stone in at least a partial way. The cool thing was that because of finishing up "Cor Liberum" I had to set this piece aside. I needed that from a scheduling point of view, but the piece needed to sit and let me understand where it wanted to go. The stone and I have agreed on a direction and I think I have a better understanding. It is funny how stone communicates with you. Sometimes it says that it wants to go in a different direction. You just have to listen.

The third piece I am working on is a really different idea for me. Several years ago when I was working in steel, I started welding up an abstract sculpture of a sail boat. the plan was to have a piece of angle iron serve as the ship with a steel sail. I am really not doing any metal sculpture now. However, I have done a lot of cleaning to be able to have space to store all of the left over stone from "Cor Liberum" and I ran across this welded start.; Since I already had this welded piece, I thought, rather than throwing it out,  it would be nice to go ahead and finish it. I have decided to try a limestone sail to see if that works with the rest of the sculpture. Stay tuned to see how it goes.


Progress Being Made by Mike McCarthy

The latest progress shot of "Vortex"

The latest progress shot of "Vortex"

On my "in-progress-work" page, I have posted an update on "Vortex" as well as a new untitled (for now) alabaster piece. 

"Vortex" is starting to take shape. This is a larger gallery scale work I am carving. It started as a 250 pound block of Indiana Limestone. It has lost a lot of weight and is now down to where I can at least lift it to the carving table without a crane. I am working on thinning out the entire piece as well as refining the shape. I think the progress is good. I have not decided if I will penetrate the sides of the piece yet, but right now, I am leaning towards it. We will have to see what happens as I move towards completion. I plan to show this piece in the show at "KORE Gallery" in October.

Untitled new work in Turtle Shell Alabaster

Untitled new work in Turtle Shell Alabaster

The second piece is a new alabaster work. This is the first time I have worked with a stone called Turtle Shell Alabaster. The stone is really unique. However, it is very difficult to carve. the alabaster falls apart very easily. Yet, it is also a very hard stone. It is hard to describe, but I can assure you, it will be worth the effort.