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Hammer and Chisel
Sometime back I became interested in stone sculpture, specifically interested in how it is done. I thought I would talk about that today.
From time to time while living in Arizona I played around with shaping stones I had found. Sandstone is plentiful along the roadside and it is relatively easy to carve. Special carving tools are not necessary. However, the sandstone often crumbles away and it will not take a high finish.
This little bronze, about 7 inches tall was cast from a mold taken off one of my early sandstone pieces.
Sculpting requires preparation. First off you need a stone with which to work. There are sculpture supply stores that can get you nearly any kind you would want. I like Alabaster or soap stone because they are relatively soft and easy to carve. They also take a nice finish. Second, one needs equipment: Chisels, hammers, special sand papers or diamond abrasives, sand bags, and goggles if you are working with hand tools. Later if you graduate to power tools such as grinders and air hammers you also need a respirator, a compressor and the power tools themselves.
This picture was taken for an article about me as an artist/banker that appeared in Palm Beach Illustrated in 1996. It gives you a glimpse of some of the trappings of the sculptor. I am wearing goggles and around my neck is the respirator I would wear if I was carving with power tools. My wrists have special cuffs to protect against the vibration caused by air hammers. My right hand, holding a hammer and a chisel, rests on a raw unworked stone. My left hand is on a finished sculpture. Notice how smooth and shiny it is. That is what I refer to as a nice finish.
On the table there are rasps and a sleeve of chisels. Each chisel is designed to do a different task. Some are designed to remove lots of stone quickly; others are designed to help in shaping the stone; some are for delicate work.
Recently I started working on a new stone. Here you can see it before I got started.
It is cushioned with sand bags placed on a work stand. You can see the hammer and some chisels. The next pictures show it beginning to take a shape.
Notice all the dust and chips around the work area. Sculpture is very dirty work. But I find it very rewarding.
Here are some examples of pieces I have done.
This work, Amore,
is in our garden. The stone is marble and without the base the sculpture stands about 28 inches tall and weights a little over 300 pounds. Moving it around is a problem. In making the work I wanted to keep the sense of the stone block.
This next piece, Morning Grace, is Alabaster.
I studied the stone until the shape began to reveal itself. The hardest stones for me are the square or rectangular blocks. I like it best when the stone suggests the form.
Here is another piece, Reclining Diva,
that was inspired by the shape of the stone. It is also Alabaster. I have had a mold made of the sculpture and can have it cast in bronze.
Tango illustrates a problem that may arise with stone sculpture.
Often there is a grain or pattern that fights the form. I liked this work but the colored markings especially in the faces of the figures was distracting. This is what it looks like in bronze. I think it reads better.
Bucking Bronco is another work I am pleased with.
It consists of two different stones, one for the horse and the other for the rider. They are held together by two pins. There is a mold of this work too so it can be cast in bronze.
I decided to write about my sculpture today because most people know me as a painter or print maker. But, as you can see I also work three dimensionally. Oh, and by the way, these need a nice home. If you are interested, let me know.
More to come
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