How I Carve Stone
For the Past 25 years I have made it my daily practice to study the vast inventory of Stone in my studio that I have quarried, and purchased. These rocks come from the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, China and Japan. The colorful stones that I select are riddled with exotic patterns, fractures, and natural textures. My goal is to transform these hard surfaces into sensual forms, stimulating the viewers imagined sense of touch. When a rock randomly catches my attention, I lay it on my carving table and begin a sculpture. First, I study the stone, rotating it to determine the most interesting structural orientation of its shapes, patterns, texture, and mass. I turn on music and my air compressor, connect an Italian Air chisel to a thin rubber hose, pick up my favorite flat chisel, and start aggressively removing material. Most of the time the tools can’t go fast enough.
Each stone carries several elements of surprise in the forms of color and pattern changes from the earth’s geology. Chips fly, and chunks fall off as stones magically morph and break into unexpected shapes. I experience a strong sense of freedom and comfortable uncertantity in this part of the carving process. Time marches on, and the studio “morgue” fills with broken pieces, which often create new beginnings for smaller sculptures. Buckets of scrap chips and dust fertilize the garden. I enjoy losing the sense of time as something is evolving in front of my eyes. I commit to a top and bottom of each piece, and do the majority of rough out in one carving session when possible. Then, I switch to hand files coarse sandpaper, often working for several months or even years on each piece. I often work on as many as 15 pieces at any given time. The studio is scattered with pieces in several different phases. I may carve and complete 5 new pieces before going back to finish any given piece of sculpture.
Alabaster is my favorite carving stone, because it can be colorful and very translucent with a workable grain. It can be worked with sandpaper and Italian files. These imported “rifflers” have been made by hand for over 3 generations by the MIliani family in Italy. A base is created for each sculpture from a separate stone. Both base and sculpture are drilled and fitted with brass sleeves for a stainless pin so the sculpture can rotate by touch. The finishing state involves sealing the stones after meticulously sanding with water and silicon carbide paper from 220-2,000 grit. During this process the color and translucency come to life, exposing the unique beauty each stone.. The sculpture permanently changes color. It is at this point that each piece takes on a completely different look as a finished piece of art. The bottoms of the bases are signed with an engraver, and rubber is added to protect furniture. They are placed on pedestals inside the studio gallery, documented with photographs, and titled. The gallery door shuts, and it’s on to the next.