This client handed me a sketch from the DaVinci Sketchbooks, and asked if I could actually make it. I don’t know if it had ever been made before or not. This may be the only interpretation of that sketch in the world, so far as I know. His version would have been marble, but I think it looks great in Kansas Limestone.
This particular limestone carves very well, but contains serious flaws. I like the flaws, because of the character they bring, and also because it makes it very clear that the material is natural stone and not a cast product.
I was in the home during the Holiday season a while back, and noticed that he burns real wood in his home. I love this.
The overall design is uniquely DiVinci. He has taken great liberties with the Greco-Roman precedent.
Whatever the source… all good commissioned stone carving is a collaboration between the carver and the client. Thanks, Vlado! That was a blast!
The Bishop. There is a story behind the design elements of this fireplace, all my own. I enjoyed poking fun at the bishop.
The client is the subject of the mantle piece. From behind the curtain…
Matthew Palmer carved the figures, and did a beautiful job. A piece like this a team project. The bricklayer also did a beautiful job, as did the carpenters. My role here was boss and designer. And I did the Bishops and the grotesques of the mantle corners (I call them sinners).
Here is one of my sinners. I’m not sure who did what, actually. I might have done a lot more of this… maybe less. Hard to say.
This photo was taken several years after the installation. I happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by to get a finished shot. The client was glad to see me, and we laughed for a few minutes as I shot a couple pics.
The portrait of the homeowner carved into the mantle.
This enormous header required some extensive planning to install. Originally over three thousand pounds, I hollowed it out so that it was “only” 1200 pounds when we installed it.
The header, seen before we installed it. I drilled a hole at exactly the balance point and passed a chain through so that it raised up level. I rehearsed the lift in the studio before I loaded it on the truck.
We raised it up with a pulley and a gallows built on site, and rolled it into place on dowels under the gallows, after we’d lifted the piece above the legs.
Heere is Joe, raising the mantle up to height, before we rolled it into place.
The scrolls and thick legs were not easy to put in place either, but after a long time, one figures out how to do without damaging either floor or stone. Carefully.
This client was very open to ideas, and liked everything we offered. Sometimes it only takes a phone call and a sketch.
I designed the structure and indicated where I wanted the cartouche, and Matthew and I drew it in. After the client approved the drawing, we finished the job, and found ourselves happily installing in Chicago a short while later.
These photos were all supplied by Mrs. Ceko, and I thank her for them. Nicely done- it looks great!
This fireplace was aged via horse poop and peat moss and rain for several months. It was buried under the mixture (50/50) on a hill for a few months. The result is the best faux aging of limestone I’ve ever seen. Recipe taken from a seventeenth Century French marble worker’s text.
This casting, based on the client’s family crest, is inlaid into the hearth of this fireplace. We installed this about twenty years ago. I would love to see it today.
Carved in raised letters (very difficult) are the words “Oh Be Joyful”. The paneling behind is from an old French chateau. This project was no holds barred.
A close up that reveals not just the staining, but also the texture we created. Old is hard to recreate accurately, but I think we did it here.
This fireplace I made for a home in Oakland, California, and my son Dorian and I had a wonderful cross country trip to install this and a concurrent project in Napa. An area blacksmith did the doors; I can’t remember her name. Nice job though!
The piece as it sat on the bench. Hand made in America… by me.
This is the piece as we left it at the end of the day. I am all in favor of the custom doors. In the end, we all nailed it.