I originally made this bulldog almost twenty years ago, and in the summer of 2014 it was vandalized, so the school’s insurance covered the replacement cost. The culprit was never caught.
This column in Goodale Park in Columbus, Ohio, originally installed in 1899, has deteriorated badly. I have been commissioned by a Centennial Preservation Group to re-carve the heads. My proposal is to rebuild the missing parts with clay and then to re-carve new sandstone blocks to match the clay.
The gate and column were a gift in 1899 to the City’s first park. The original meanings of the column animals have been lost to time, although we do know that the eight human heads on the gate represent the eight stages of Man. The carving is masterful, and does not resemble any other carving in the Columbus area, that I know of. We know nothing of the original artist.
The tooling on the buff sandstone has survived remarkably well, and demonstrates the level of the craftsmanship brought to this column. The heads are about 9′ off the ground- too high to touch. The wear is likely from acid rain and the burning of coal for so many decades.
The cap came off easily, and we set it aside. After we had picked the section with the heads and put it on my truck, we put the cap back for safekeeping while the restoration is done in my studio.
Playing with big lifts and heavy things is always exciting. Although no one can really see it, the scalloped top is textured with one continuous spiral line from top to bottom.
This is the only original photo the historical committee could give me. Detail must be inferred. It is agreed the animal on the left is probably a panther, and that the one on the right is a lion. The ram, not show here, is extent enough to know it is a ram, but the fourth head was badly deteriorated and no known photo exists.
The ears, the eyes, a bit of the for head, and a grainy photo are all there is to go on, but that’s enough to conclude it was a stylized panther.
Part of an eye, droopy ears, and a bit of forehead seem to indicate the subject was a dog. No known photographs exist.
The ram is pretty much intact, and a hint at the style that may have been used for the other heads, although it does seem very different.
The lion head featured a bit of an ear, some mane, and pits indicating the height of the eyes. The source photo and the extent remains indicate this was a lion. Here I have started on the lion, and on the left is an early version of the panther.
Using an oil-based clay that gets softer with heat (I use an old Sunbeam electric skillet), I rebuilt the heads in full scale in my shop. This is an early stage of the panther. The lion is on the right, the dog on the left. The sandstone blocks are 16 1/2″ tall.
I was able to get a good start by making the right begin to mirror the left. At this stage I had to commit to something, and felt that the only defensible choice was a dog.
The red sandstone is the original carver’s work. I have tried throughout to do what I could to work in his style more than my own. I’ve learned during this process several pointers from the past.
The lion, nearly complete. I will add textural details in the sandstone when I recarve them.
The dog is as animated as I could get him, given the restraints.
I gave the panther a sneer, as the eyes sort of implied that, as did the source photo. He struck me as a tease, a mischief maker.
My sister’s son’s fifth grade class wanted their class donation to the school to be a memorial to the school’s founder and patron. I flew to Tulsa to install it and meet the class, and spend some time with my nephews.
The image was suggested by the class, and I sent a sketch for approval. They liked it. I had each kid in the class write the alphabet and write from 1 to 10, and blew up the results to form the font. The kids had fun trying to guess whose were used.
I sent progress pics as I carved, along with little explanations. The kids loved it.
The finished piece, dedicated and permanent.
This is a photo of Blue, Butler University’s mascot. Butler has been a champion basketball team for generations, and I have had the honor of doing several projects for the university. The latest was a columbarium to hold the ashes of all past and future mascots. I was commissioned to do a sculpture for the memorial.
The dog house has been built to last, and the guard is too.
A block of styrofoam has been begun. Myself and my fellow sculptor and friend Anthony Jacobs used a large hot wire to cut through the foam. Nobody else was there to take our picture.
Carving the styrofoam armature is very tricky, because the eye’s tendency is to imagine the form of the finished piece, which would leave no room for experimentation and improvisation.
The clay I like is an oil-based clay that is hard at room temperature, but softens with heat. I use an old electric wok to heat the clay. Hot it can be poured; cold it can be carved like stone. It is useable for different purposes throughout the temperature range.
Bronze is very revealing of texture. The difference between the two textures, once cast, will be very clear.
Trip, Butler’s current mascot, came to inspect the finished clay master. Henry gave Trip a good sniffing. Note that Trip even has his own car!
Michael, Trip’s owner and handler, came to inspect the finished clay master. We made a few adjustments, and then Trip gave his approval.
The finished master on the way to the foundry.
At the foundry a rubber mold is taken of the clay master. The mold is made of several different sections so that it can be removed without damage to itself or to the master. Once complete, the mold will beken off the master and painted on the inside with hot wax until a wax reproduction of the clay master is created. The wax reproduction is about 1/4″ thick.
The finished mold. The rubber has been covered with plaster so it will hold its shape. Each of the plaster sections has been keyed so that they lock together.
After the wax reproduction is finished it is cut into smaller pieces, each of which is dipped repeatedly into a fluid form of ceramic slurry, each coat of which is also coated with a fine sand for stability. The ceramic is liquid, so it conforms to the shape of the wax perfectly. Once enough of a shell has been formed, the mold is fired in a special kiln, which melts the wax out at the same time that it fires the ceramic shell. The completed hollow mold will have molten bronze poured in, which will perfectly reproduce the shape of the wax reproduction of the clay master.
The bronze head, after the ceramic mold has been broken off and the bronze sandblasted clean. The sections will next be welded back together, the welds cleaned and the texture chased to match the original, and then a patina will be applied.
The welding process.
John Cline, Foundry master, demonstrating how difficult the process is.
The completed bronze is then heated with a torch and chemicals are sprayed onto the hot metal to change the color of the surface of the metal. After this, the sculpture is sealed and waxed.
Headed to Indianapolis for the installation on campus.
The finished sculpture, installed on campus, with the completed columbarium.
Dedication. Beautiful day.
The finished sculpture will be guarding the remains of the Butler mascots for generations to come. Thanks Butler Class of 2014!!!
This 1500 pound carved limestone ice cream cone stands proudly outside one of Ohio State University’s oldest buildings, which now houses the Mirror Lake Creamery and Grill on the ground floor. Thousands of students walk by my work every day on the campus. I wonder how many notice the top scoop is cherry? Carving the waffle cone texture was fun. Being a part of a place carved by generations of stone carvers is an honor.
This sculpture was commissioned as a gift by my daughter’s graduating class of 2012, Wellington School. It is in memory of a schoolmate that died of brain cancer when the students were in kindergarten. Caroline was a playful girl, and loved the outdoors.
As a father, the honor was enormous. That class was full of great young people, and I am glad to have gotten to know them. I still see some of them around every now and then.
Oh! I just realized I haven’t shot this in winter yet. Oh well- maybe next year. At least I hope we don’t have any more snow this spring. It’s been a cold winter.
The playground was funded, in part, by donations in her honor.
This bronze bust of the legendary Tony Hinkle stands in front of Butler University’s Hinkle Auditorium, one of the nation’s oldest and largest basketball courts. Old World has been part of several graduating class gifts. This one, in particular, stands out; Butler won the Final Four that year to become the number one college basketball team in the country. Go Butler!
This Class Gift sculpture is located on the Mall of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. This shot is original; today, the gardens are lush and the piece has settled into it’s home quite nicely.
This graduating class was very open to new ideas, and together we came up with this design. It has weathered well, and has become a fixture on the campus of one of America’s great colleges.
Thank you, Butler University Class Of 1997! I am honored to have been part of your experience!
This life size bronze sculpture was Matthew’s last project as an employee of Old World Stone Carving. He’s done very well since as an independent sculptor., with works across the nation.
Matthew’s sensitivity shows through in every detail. We had Cash, a police horse, in every week for confirmation of detail.
This memorial sculpture honors the bond between the youth that the ranch serves and the animals it uses to help these young people.
When the dedication was held the Columbus police brought Chance. On camera, and as if on cue, Chance walked up when the sculpture was unveiled and nuzzled his likeness. It was magical.
The expression on the young man’s face is focused, and grateful. We very much wanted to express a thankfulness.
When we whipped the clay master to New Mexico to be cast in bronze at the Shidoni Foundry we had a married trucker pair. He of bleached and poofed hair, a sleeveless tank top, she with a tobacco pipe… and needless to say, the shipment was without a problem.
Horse muscle by a guy that had one in front of him twice a week for a while… and brilliantly done.