Mrs. Dart with the lions she commissioned as a birthday present for her husband. The home dates to the Twenties, and she recalled her husband commenting when they bought it that all it needed was a couple stone lions out front. She looked for years to find the right ones, and then thought of having them custom made. The lions were truly collaborative; she chose the props and I assembled the compositions.
She wanted the lion representing her to be accompanied by roses, butterflies, and a vase. For his, she wanted a shield with a tudor rose and a “D”, a frog, and a stink bug. I worked up clay models, 1/4 scale, and after a couple small revisions, the models were approved.
Using a variety of measuring tools and a calculator, I enlarged the models into the stone. The dots on the model indicate a point that I located on the model, and transferred to the stone.
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.
Comfest is a big deal in Columbus, Ohio. Each summer volunteers put on three days of music, activist opportunities, and fun. Last year the organizers decided to add sculpture and asked me to participate. I had these pieces left over from roughing out an earlier piece, and drilled them and glued in steel pins on one end. They were easy to plunge into the soft ground to build ever changing sculptures, some made by me alone, others with the help of the festival goers.
For three days I made a constantly evolving piece, with the help of the community. It was a lot of fun, and there were some interesting conversations and interactions. Doing Art in public is a riot.
The square gave way to the circle., one piece at a time. Each post weighs about thirty pounds. At the end of each day I was definitely feeling it.
This piece was done by gently tossing the posts through the air and letting them land as they may. I wish I had taken a video of this one. Several of us plucking the posts from the circle and tossing them around. Good times. Would have made great video.
This version is so relaxed it almost looks drunken.
After I had completed this one, a man approached and performed an amazing feat- he leaped them al, on after the other, without stopping and without blowing a single landing.
It was hilarious to watch the would-be ninjas try to balance on these structures, clearly a bit buzzed… not.
My friend Ashley came by (wonderful painter) and asked if I would do him as a chalk outline. He got way more than he asked for. No bumping the sculpture allowed!
And then he managed to crawl out without disturbing a single stone. Go Ashley!
Now ask yourself- how did he get out of there? Not for the faint of heart. He was VERY slow about it, I must say.
That is all balance, and in a very public and crowded space. Majestic, it was. And all by eye. No measuring tools were used throughout the festival.
This one occupied the most space and took the longest time to make. Very tricky- and very cool.
This subtle piece was done by a volunteer. I dig it.
Peace, Art, and good times on a summer day. Wonderful.
Ihad a great time. Thanks Comfest. What for next year, eh?
There was something about carving this large apple core that I found relaxing. It was an unusually enjoyable job.
The original model, enlarged 1000% and carved in stone, with a forged steel stem and leaf. Very cool commission.
My favorite 1/4″ chisel doing it’s thing on the rough out, right behind Mr. Grinder doing its.
Almost fully roughed in; carving until late at night again. Some days I have to chase myself out of the studio.
Now, how do you flip a 2000 pound stone apple over? You roll it over with your forklift, of course.
Upside down and that big it almost doesn’t look like an apple anymore. Rough out is complete.
I have refined the texture of the skin, and have eaten the apple and done my best to record the result. Time to bite into the stone.
I considered biting deeply enough to expose a seed, but decided against it.
Maryann, my wife Wendy, and I had a good day traveling to Bokenkamp’s Forge near Mohican State Park, where we watched Mark forging the stem and leaf. The stem is wrought iron, the leaf cold steel.
Mark has welded a handle to the stem for handling, and does the final shaping by hand on the anvil. Even white hot it takes some serious hammering to bend a piece this thick.
The most beautiful apple stem imaginable.
The leaf, just getting started. I love the image of the burning leaf that won’t burn.
The finished apple, ready for delivery. I can’t wait to see it on it’s granite base! Delivery is scheduled for next week. It’s very cold this week; I hope it gets above single digits next week.
Maryann with the granite base, freshly planted. The column was buried in a yard near Powell, Ohio, for decades. No one knows why. It was made before diamond saws were used to cut granite, as the bottom and top are distinctly hand-tooled. The column has been in place for the last few months. By the end of spring it will look like it’s always been there. Thanks Maryann!
Maryann and myself went the quarry and picked out the right block. Maryann wants a lips sculpture, and I have suggested a burgundy sandstone. We had a good time going to the quarry in northeast Ohio, through Amish country. It was a beautiful Fall day.
I carved a 1/2 scale model in styrofoam before beginning anything in the stone.
After drilling a series of holes, I put in the pins and feathers and split off the excess. Yes, it’s a damn nice drill.
I enlarged the apex points of the model to create the drawing. The dark color on the pencil lines is the hair spray I use to secure the pencil line; otherwise it will blow away when I blow the dust off the stone as I carve it.
I have drilled and cut and chiseled in a good bit. All is well.
Carving complete. I’m going to miss those lips.
To hold the lips above grass level so they seem to float over the lawn, I made a stainless steel “shadow” of the lips. This will also keep plants from growing under it.
Floating over a stainless steel plate on stainless pins, the piece will be placed in a meadow setting, and will appear to float just over the ground, always, all seasons, long, long, long. A slight smile, recorded. Thanks Maryann!
Patterned after originals in Central Park, these rosettes were commissioned by a client with homes in Manhattan and in upper New York State. He commissioned these because he loved the originals in the park and he was having a dry-laid stone wall made for his home, and wanted to customize the posts.
This is my initial sketch. From this I made a template so each quarter would be the same.
The completed design.
When I want to make duplicates of a design, I do each piece step by step, keeping each stroke and each chisel the same for each piece.
I’ve always found this kind of work relaxing and meditative. I hope it brings that feeling to the client.
This beautiful hood was patterned on the Winery doors I did earlier (shown elsewhere on this site). Here it is shown finished, at home, in its new home in New Jersey.
This decorative hood covers a functional one (made by others). The designer had specified some terrific hardware and lighting, and wanted a hood that could keep up. She found me on line, and working together with a cabinetmaker in New Jersey we produced this hood. The client loves it.
Ed, stepson and helper, brushes the bare steel to give it a slight texture and to thoroughly clean it.
This construction detail shows how the panels have been fit together.
After many, many layers and much time, the finished hood is approved and ready to ship.
The hood has been screwed to a custom crate for transport to New Jersey.
These were copied from the only original finial left on the tower. It was fun to work in this style.
I had the block cut at the quarry on their diamond saw to establish the crocket height; the piece on the right is what I started with, and the one on the left has been started. I take each piece up step by step, doing the same thing to each piece as I go, so they are all as alike as possible.
The tooth chisel texture is wonderful,but it is also very helpful on sandstone.
Mrs. Dart with the two lions she commissioned as a birthday present for her husband. She said that as they were moving in to their new house (built in the Twenties) he had said something like “if it had a couple lions on the pillars it would be perfect”, so fo years she looked but couldn’t find the right lions, so she decided to find a carver and get them custom made. It was a fun collaboration; she had ideas of content, and gave me a free hand with the composition.
For the lion representing herself, she wanted to be accompanied by roses, butterflies, and a vase; for him, a shield, a tudor rose, a “D”, a frog, and a stinkbug. I made 1/4 scale clay models, and after a couple small revisions, approval was given.
Using a calculator and a variety of measuring tools I enlarged and reproduced the models into stone. The dots on the model represent a point I located and enlarged.
I descended 4″ at a time, using a grinder to knock back the excess. This enabled me to use the original block face as a “true” to measure from. The block size is the same size as the wood pad the clay model is made on.
In this way I was able to get very close to a finish without hesitation. Knowing where one is going makes getting there a lot quicker.
The first one is finished.
I use a single chisel during the rough in phase, a 1/4″ chisel, so I can keep track of the level of refinement I have taken the surface.
Henry hangs out with me, impervious to the dust.
The lion is ready to go.
They will never be this close together again. The stink bug is hiding behind the shield, wary of the frog sneaking up. They get acquainted and size each other up. They have a big job ahead.
Beautiful morning for a delivery. I had checked in to a hotel the night before- eight hour drive to the site- and had an hour to enjoy some coffee before meeting the lift on site. Driving things like this is always an adventure, and always nerve rattling.
Although the operator was a terrific driver, nothing beats a good old pulley to really put it exactly where you want it. Good bye, lions- may you serve them well. Thanks for letting me be part of it!