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2015
Inner Garden
Inner Garden – Stone and Steel 46” h x 35” w x 145 lbs. 2015

 

Inner Garden

  My work in the studio has been delayed for over a year due to a conflict with the City Zoning Dept. they put me out of business, requiring me to spend $8000 and one year to fight my way back into being able to legally sculpt at my studio 

I returned to work as a stone sculptor this August 2015 working short sessions getting my act back together and find a rhythm after such a long absence. How great it is to having my energy flow between hands and mind.

Selecting a stone

I had been storing a slab of dolomite about 2 ft. x 3 ft. and 1 ½ inch thick rectangle. This type of stone carves very well, is hard enough to polishes to a high shine and is a lovely black color. The shape of the stone was boring leading to the next step:

Design

Having the stone in the studio I began drawings of what I might do with it, my typical approach for me. A shape emerged – a large circle with tooth like tabs rising up at the top. In scale I designed an image for each side – a spiral originating with a modified serpent head at top winding down into the center with a monkey tail ending. Old friends

Carving process

A couple sessions of sawing then grinding the edges produced the outer edges and new shape; it is very nice and stimulates the designs as I draw them on the stone before beginning the carving cycle. Supporting the slab so the vigorous pounding of carving does not break the stone is challenging requiring lots of shimming. After rough cutting the areas to be recessed I find finish textures than move from a polished serpent head to water like veins coursing the spiral around to the monkey tail ending where I switched to a hatch marked surface produced with a wide finish chisel. A crack is exposed in the head of the serpent while carving; it is part way through the slab and runs about half way across the stone. I alter the design of the plant side after I turn the stone to carve that side and tightly support the stone’s upper section and proceed.

A friend visited the finished piece in the studio and I was telling him how when carving the different types of stone – sandstone / dolomite / granite my thinking process changes while carving. It is like: putting a plug or muffler into a trumpet that changes the sound made by the horn. When carving this dolomite my thoughts are unique to this material and in a way that is listening/speaking to the stone. I have noticed the finishes textures developed in each piece change/evolve with type of stone and each composition. Sculpting is an organic process, the mind is changed by the hand and it’s response to the material and tool being used. The result is a finished piece of sculpture but that is less important than the process the sculptor travels through. For me sculpting is a practice a way to explore ideas and the materials they are made of – the end products of finished sculptures are wonderful and do lead to the next project, yet pale in comparison to the process.

Steel work

After 18 sessions of carving grinding and polishing ideas of how to present the piece begin to emerge. Using a farm disk as a base I repeat the large stone circle connecting it to the stone with a steel shoe, treaded for a bolt up from the disk. Then as simple post welded on the edge of the disk connects to the carved circle a two point support is enough for the back and forward support. To keep the stone from falling side to side I cut in two steel straps and drill through them a good bolt connection. From the straps I develop a trellis of 5 steel square rods welded to the straps and disk below. After 9 sessions of steel work, I blacken the steel then lacquer it to stop rust. The final finis is several coats of stone sealer to show off the contrast in carved and natural surfaces.

Title

The name of a piece comes at different stages of the process. Sometimes while conceiving of a sculpture in the primary drawings pops out then often after I shape the stone and begin the graphics the name emerges. This piece took a long time I was actually wondering when I would know. The sculpture was completely built then during a lecture by a Buddhist teacher I knew it should be called “Inner Garden”.

Seeing it complete in the studio is a treat – it is a good piece and the bonus is I have gotten back to work as an artist giving up my 1 year sabbatical as a victim of City Bureaucracy.  So this lovely tale is told.