Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week Twelve

My time at Fairplay Stone Carvers has come to an end. It was exciting to be part of the many projects Nick had going on, and to even see projects such as the Bowery Bank project on to completion. I learned a lot more about the trade and am grateful for such a rare opportunity.

Ours stones installed at the Bowery Bank in New York

I left right in the middle of the Dollar Bank job, and I am excited to see how that job ends up. When I left Miy stone was only about half done (looks like poor Michael is going to have to clean up my mess).

My stone as I left it

Nick's stone
Micheal's stone

It was a good thing I left when I did. Winter was beginning to make its advances on my camp. This made life a little colder and without water it was a little more difficult to live in.

Winter is here.
 I began some of the detail on my Coyote skull but it still has a lot of work til completion.

Detail on the rope and wheat.

Its been good Ohio, and I hope to see you again soon.

Saying Goodbye to all my dear friends

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week Eleven

Second to last week of work. We are still chipping away at our columns and they are slowing taking shape.

my Stone with rounded champferred edge

Michael has just been flying on his stone. It is has been set upright and gives the viewer a good idea of what these column bases will look like when finished.

Michaels stone with cut steps.

I have been working furiously and late into the nights on my own sculpture, I really am hoping to get it complete or at least near completion by next week. I am still in the roughing out stage and I finshed roughing out the background at 2:00 A.M. last night...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week Ten

The Glamorous life of a stone carver.......

Ah, Ten o'clock tea, as you can see sanitation is not our greatest strength

This last week was much of the same. Cutting facets into my block in order to create a round surface. Trying to carve level planes is slow going for novice as  myself but all this repetition is proving to be good practice.

 I finally got the facets done and rounded the stone into a half cylinder
Nick and poor old Tricksy

I am still chipping away at my sculpture. Working my way around the coyote skull and trying to coax it out of the stone, nice'n easy like... mostly I'm just a little scared to make to many definite markings until I understand the shapes of the skull. I'm almost done with rough first layer though, and I will soon begin to bringing the details out.
working my way around the back

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week Nine

Mikey cutting planes with an angle grinder
Another week of gritting our teeth and grinding away... We have to remove about two-thirds of the stone from these blocks before we will actually begin the moldings. Working with stone really exercises my patience and perseverance. The whole removal process is very slow and methodical, and can be overwhelming if looked at in its entirety. The key to keeping sanity is by going at the rock one step at a time and by focusing only on that stage. I can see now how this job isn't for everyone and I myself and am struggling to keep my spirits up..

I am currently working on cutting the shape down into a half-octagon of planes. These planes will then be cut again smaller and smaller until the edges can be rounded and a half circle is formed.
This is my stone. still in the first stages of the rounding process
Nick's stone has been rounded and chamfered on one edge.
Michael has finished the rounding as well and his stone has been turned upwards in its proper position. 

My work on my sculpture has been slow but steady. I had to stop for awhile to workout a design error but am back in business. Its tricky and careful carving, and I wonder if I bit off more than I can chew with an objects as intricate and as complex as a skull. Regardless I am working furiously and spending some late nights in the shop hoping to get it done on time.
Cutting the background out

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As far as I've got so far.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week Eight

The Dollar Bank project is underway, and with a new job has come a whole variety of new skills to learn. Nick had worked ahead on his stone to show us what needed to be done, and it seemed simple enough..... Why does Nick always have to make things look so dang easy! even after working with stone for the last three years I can't get over how stinking hard it is.

We started out by scribing the templates onto the peices. This in itself was a task as even though the stone are supposed to be square, there is usually some part the isn't square at all. At which point, we have to play a game with levels and squares to try and find the best suited side to work from.

Once we've found a suitable side and traced the templates we begin drilling. It's slow going even with the use of hammer drills and it took two days of straight drilling to get finished.

The drilling itself was pretty fun, we'd take much care keeping the large bit level and then do the same to the other side. The goal was to keep the hole so straight that it would meet the opposite hole and make a clean connection (a difficult feat as the bit wanted to wander in the 3ft of stone).

On top of all of this stone removal Nick showed me how to drive the forklift which I have had a blast doing.

Week Eight (continued)

During the last month I have been doing a lot of browsing through books and searching online for some inspirational ideas for my own sculpture. A few artists really stood out to me.

Initially I wanted to carve a still life composition, and found  two artist who caught my attention the first was Lon Etzel who carves Western Inspired realism (subject matter that I am quite fond of).

The second artist whom caught my attention is a carver named Bat-Ami Helerman, she works in a variety of different materials including stone, mixed media, and bronze. I found her work interesting in her realistic replications of soft, often light materials in marble and black granite.

I began getting interested in the idea of carving bones, and Nick showed me a piece done by Michelangelo  that was vary inspiring. It is just a small bit of ornament on a large tomb that Michelangelo was commissioned to design but it really stuck out to me, especially the detail of the bones.

I was further inspired by the detail of a designer named Grinling Gibbons.

All this inspiration lead to a culmination of my ideas. 
I combined the basic design concept of Michelangelo, but wanted to include some foliage inspired by Grinling. Ultimately the skull will be the toughest piece to tackle and I look forward to the challenge.

This is the piece of Italian

Squaring the piece of marble to a workable

Cutting the Piece into an oval

Squaring the sides of the oval and outlining the coyote skull

First layer of the background has been cut down.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week Seven

This was our last week winterizing the studio, we got the walls up and insulated. We also installed some wood burning stoves which will help it stay nice and toasty for the bitter winter months. 

We had to install a sliding door large enough for his forklift to get through.

Back of his shop. All framed and ready for plastic and foam.
After all the crazy winter preparations, we are gratefully welcoming the coming stone work. Our next job is a restoration project for the Dollar bank in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Nick Fairplay has been commissioned to do the carving of two Lions and some column bases for the bank.

Dollar Bank in Pittsburgh PA. With the old lions still in place.

Before we can do the cutting on the moldings and foliage we must get workable sized peices out of the locks that Nick got from the mills. The block must go through a long removal process starting with drilling and sawing to break off the biggest pieces of excess.
Nick is drilling out the center of this block where it will be put around an existing column
 In order to get the stone to break cleanly apart without risking the rest of the stone breaking, you have to drill rows of holes that create a weak stress line. Once the rows have been drilled you can cut the stone apart without fear of breaking. its a tedious process that requires hammer drills and huge drill bits. 
 This stage in work is much different then the careful chiseling done while carving. This stage in the work requires hard hits and mass removal. Let the stone busting begin...
On the side, Nick has began work on his own piece of sculpture. He's working on a black marble bust pedestal. He made a wooden frame to make his plaster mold on and is now turning the black marble on a huge stone lathe he has in his shop.
Nick working his pedestal on the lathe.