Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The American Lion continues

I take measurements from the model of the lion and mark the outline of the lion's head on the stone.  This shows me where I can safely remove stone though I will cut wide of the mark.

The sculpture looks really strange at this point, not at all like a lion, maybe some big bird.  I am cutting the stone in somewhat thin slices for removal as I am having some trouble with carpal tunnel (I am wearing a wrist brace) and it is bothered by too much force from the hammer I use to knock off sections of stone.  A thinner cut requires a lighter tap to remove.

It really looks like a bird from this angle.

I grind over the cuts I made into the stone so I can better "read" the sculpture.  The outline of the Lion is there but it is very flat at this point.  I will make measures from the model at well as sight-size to make sure of areas of stone that need to be removed.  Sight-sizing is holding up the model so that the model and sculpture are the same size to the eye and then comparing where different parts of the sculpture are and to see where stone needs to be removed.  A smaller model (12:1) helps in this as it is fairly easy to hold up, a 4:1 model can be difficult and cumbersome

I begin to form the head of the lion, grinding off corners and beginning to cut the planes of the head.  This is a technique I am most comfortable with as this is how I started carving stone - I would begin with the nose and work my way back into the stone.  I didn't have a great deal of strength then and had just begun using power tools so it was the easiest and safest way to create a sculpture.  It also takes the guesswork out of the carving - as you follow the form of the nose back everything else falls into place.

I have started to define the head (though it is on the large side am beginning to define the neck and shoulder.

I use a crayon to mark the area that needs to be removed to get back to the shoulder.

I have removed some of the stone from under the neck using a grinder then cut across it to get a clean surface.  Lots of stone needs to be removed from over the Lions neck..  The markings on the face show areas I need to remove and planes I need to strengthen.

I have used grinders to remove stone from over the lions head.  This is fairly difficult as I have to reach back into the stone as well work almost over my head - my arms get fatiqued quickly. 
The blocking of the piece (bulk stone removal) is almost complete and that is the most boring part of the job.  Now that the form of lion is emerging the work starts to get fun .

Friday, June 6, 2014

Beginning the blocking of the American Lion for University of Alaska Anchorage

I begin the sculpture by taking stone from the middle section of the block.  This is where the Lion will be located.  I use a large angle grinder and make slices in the stone cutting across the face of the block.  I am able to make a 3" deep cut with the diamond wheel, cutting the lower half of the block from ground level.  I will use a bench to cut the upper sections.  I am essentially slicing off sections of stone and while I can make a 3" deep cut, each slice needs to be no more than 2" as I will remove each slice by tapping it with an engineers hammer. 

Don has taken a picture of me on the bench making a cut in the stone.

And here I am after tapping off the slice of stone.  I try to move the stone away from the base of the block - I try, but ultimately end up with huge piles of stone that need to be carted away.

Here are the piles of stone I was referring to.  In this photo you can see I have begun to remove stone from the back of the block.

After several passes I am down to the outside dimensions of the Lion.  I draw on a simple outline of where I can safely remove stone.

Using the same slicing technique I remove area from under the tail of the big cat.

Using cross hatching and notes, I lay out areas that need to be removed and others that need to stay.  I stay well clear of vital areas - the foot and head - in case I need to make adjustments later.  This is a hold over from the days I used to carve direct into a stone (some of which was not the greatest quality) and would encounter a crystal pocket in the stone which would necessitate moving an entire section elsewhere (usually back into the stone.)

For removing areas under the chin I change directions, cutting into the block with the grinder.  I am also making the cuts very narrow so that the areas will break more cleanly.  I place a chisel between these cuts and tap them apart with my hammer.

I repeat the cutting technique descibed above in the area above the head and across the body of the cat.

The back leg (on left) and head are beginning to take shape.  Well, I can see it if no one else can.

This is a sculpture I am finishing up for this year's Yew Dell Sculpture show in Crestwood, KY.  She is entitled "Lifting the Veil" and is carved from Sylacauga Alabama Marble.