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.
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.
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!
This table is now in San Francisco. I am going to see if the designer has shots taken since the project was complete. The designer managed to find a 3/4″ thick glass top. I enjoy traditional challenges.
A table base like this works both indoors and out.
The lifting pins allow me to raise or lower the piece to the best height for working.
Completely hand made. Knowing how to break down a form into small parts enables a carver to carve pretty much anything.
The key is to start with a square and true block, since stone carving is a subtractive art. If a carver is measuring in from a surface that isn’t accurate, the results won’t be accurate either.
These limestone planters are hand carved to order; the client’s address is hand carved into the stone.
These carved stone urns feature a reproduction of the historic home’s street address, carved into the limestone entry. Part of the joy of being an artist that specializes in commissions is working with the client to make each piece unique and personal.
These limestone urns are each unique on close inspection. They are based on the concept of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, and the handles reveal the distinctions.
This is one of the Air handles.
This is the handle on the other side of Air.
Water, brilliantly carved by Matthew Palmer.
I included this extra shot of Air because of the mud dauber nest in the eye. Limestone is real stuff, and the bugs don’t care what it looks like.
The other handle was freshwater- this one is salt water. So many choices, so little time.
Earth, dry and old.
Earth again, ancient and aware.
Fire, fire, fire. Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice; from what I’ve tasted of desire, I say the world will end in ice. Or something like that, Robert Frost memory from grade school.
The urns were moved after the jacuzzi went in. Party Ohio style…
The urns, all lined up and ready to roll.
These formal urns are based on a Greek original, but are unique and personal to the owners.
Each Happy little gargoyle says “good morning” to the home every day.
Except the grumpy one.
Fun and having fun are a huge part of the commissioning process. Have fun with the process!
Nestled in among the leaves, the critter long waits for the next dragonfly to wander by…
The urn, the vessel, a sacred and ancient form, like humanity itself… holds for all the next spring.
This patio of Rhyton Tables is one of my earliest large commissions, and it was a blast to explore. Each piece was left to me to conceive, but each was carved by Matthew Palmer. Matthew started working with me when he was nineteen. This was a few years into our association. He’s only gone beyond since. Google him, for a good view… Mathew Gray Palmer.
This was based on Frank Sinatra’s version of “the Days of Wine and Roses.”
I’ve been lucky enough to have seen this in the winter, covered in snow, the eyes just peaking out… very cool. Too bad I didn’t have my camera.
The patio was dry laid and sank, and the mortar has cracked and fallen out. The patio was stabilized and that problem was fixed.
The wolf. The original North American bad ass.
Seen from above. Growl, growl.
Mr Ram, yer lips seem a bit too tight… lighten up man! It can’t be that bad!
Maybe if somebody put bird food on his head…
Which made the lion laugh and laugh, all laughingly.
And the lion never sleeps, not even tonight.
But… the elephant never forgets. Not even when confronted with a laughing lion.
All American is the great eagle, all grand and with power due. put your dink on that on a sunny day, why don’t you?
Unless ya wanna be a wart hog. Little beady eyes is they, the nasty things.
I hope the kids of the owners of these cool end tables and benches did maximum cool things for Halloween. I bet they did- they’re cool kids. Probably grown ups now. Damn.
Hay Mr. Fish your mouth is gonna dry up if you don’t shut it. Cool flappers!
Seriously… fish breath is not on the menu tonight my friend…
Oh, the view from the porch door. I know my work has been part of this family since the kids were way little. They’re now grown and doing well. I am glad to have been part of this family’s history.
The benches and tables were designed to be family and party friendly, with granite inlaid tops and steel reinforced bench tops.
And a wonderful time was had by all.
These beautiful urns and pier caps are much larger than they look here; the post is 4′ square. These are first turned on a lathe, and then the details are hand carved.