Moleanos limestone and glass

we drove to Cumbria yesterday to install a stone in Carlisle cemetery. It was an experimental piece with raised carvings showing that Daniel (PODGE) was very into his bicycles, and also incorporating a glass element, which really brings the stone to life. The glass was made to order as a one-off by Joseph Harrington,  glass sculptor.

see these pictures:

Conquered it, finally

Hi! I have a tendency to design things that are a bit tricky to make, keeping myself on my toes! The latest is a commission, a Welsh slate bowl which will feature a circular inscription, raised horse chestnut leaf and conker. The last conker fell apart in the making, due to a rather weak layer in the slate, but today I finally finished the second one, phew. It will be attached with a stainless steel dowel. When the lettering is cut and the job finished I’ll post more pictures.

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Moleanos limestone memorial

I have been working on this stone, and the glass insert is now in place. I like the way the light brings the memorial to life. ‘Podge’ was really into bicycles, so I incorporated the cogs to show this.

Kilkenny limestone in situ

Back in December I wrote a blog about this sculpture made using kilkenny limestone. Well I now have pictures of it in situ thanks to my client. I made a similar sculpture over 10 years ago which was in the same material (see bottom image), but quite different in that it is well grounded and bottom heavy. This is obviously more top heavy. I wanted to push this idea and make something that looked poised, or as if it were balancing. Then we had the idea of having it installed in a sleeve so it can be rotated. The client is an engineer/builder so he did a lot of the work on this, and installed the stone himslef using block and tackle and scaffolding. He tells me it can be turned using one finger! I love the idea of it being both solid and movable. It is a very tactile piece with polished areas and rough clawed surfaces. It is also fun for the kids!

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Hopton Wood limestone bird

I have been working on a small sculpture this week, made from Hopton Wood limestone from Derbyshire. It is quite a hard material (which is good thing!) this enabled me to make some of the features quite thin and delicate such as the beak and tail, this would have been very risky in a softer stone. The rest of the sculpture I wanted to keep simple and bold, and allowing the beauty of the material to come through, with its fossils and beautiful tight-grained surface. It is about 20cm long. standing on an oak column, and will ultimately be installed in Liverpool University. I hope you like it!!

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Kilkenny sculpture update

After hours of cutting, grinding and rubbing……I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having the stone stood up enabled me to walk around it and get the shape working from every angle. Also I was able to draw on the flowing line where the polished upper surface will meet the claw chiselled lower surface. Now the stone has to be laid down again to help me work the lower surface.

Kilkenny sculpture taking shape

I’ve been working on the shape of this sculpture some more, and the basic form is coming together. I’ve drilled and pinned the bottom, so I can work on it upright now, and walk around it. It’s the only way to get the shape looking good from every angle. Easier said than done! Looking forward to tomorrow……..the shape is still not quite right in places and getting into the hole and making that a nice shape is awkward. Kilkenny stone is very hard, and therefore there are no shortcuts!!

Kilkenny limestone sculpture………………phase 2

Welcome!! Well, here’s the next instalment of the making of the sculpture mentioned in the previous blog. kk1I have been working on this over the last two weeks. As I said in the previous blog, it has become necessary to work the shape with the stone lying down, especially as I want the stone to be rounded at the bottom, so it appears to be balanced on the ground. This obviously cannot be done with the stone standing up. It is easier to work it in this way, as I can walk around the form, and get a good and safe working height on my scissor-lift table, which can be adjusted to a good height. This table will lift 1000kg, the stone was 750kg as a rectangular block, and will end up being around 500kg approximately. After cutting the angled sections off and pitching and cutting to the initial outline, and working the hole roughly, the next stage is working around the form cutting rough chamfers and ‘finding’ the shape. I want the shape to flow nicely from every angle, and yet not be predictably rounded. I want some asymmetry and a sense of tension and contortion in the form, so some ‘planes’ are rounded more than others, some of the curves are more flattened and compressed and some more rounded and generous. So I am basically walking round and round the table, cutting and grinding until I’m happy with the flow of the form. It is still early days, and I will turn the stone over tomorrow morning to work the other side and get the shape as a whole roughed out. I am thinking of making the two sides different, and one face will be purely rounded, and the other will have a chamfered element around the hole to add some more texture to the piece, and to make the stone different on both sides. We are planning to install the stone on a single pin so it can be rotated. I am aiming for the finished piece to be tactile (please do touch the sculpture!) and visually interesting. To be experienced with the eyes and then with the hands. There will be polished darker elements, paler claw-tooled sections, a carved chamfer with bold flat bolster chiselling. So lots of surfaces to explore. I’m very texture conscious in my work. I see an area of carved lettering as a texture in the same way as I see a chiselled surface. It’s all to do with rhythm and spacing, lettering and tool marks. I often think letters are like objects, with their own sense of gravity or magnetism, and this is how I think of them when trying to space letters evenly: I imagine they are individual magnets – and they need to pull evenly across the page or stone or they will start to draw the eye, and slide towards each other. Spacing is definitely a dark art, and for me I’d rather see good letters well spaced than beautiful letters bad lyspaced (:-0) I can get quite irritated by bads pacing!!

ANYWAY there’s no lettering on this so I’ll move on (!) This sort of sculpture is like a letter in a way (oh no back to lettering again, he’s going to start moaning about the overuse of comic sans soon………..) in that I’m looking at it like a letter, it has outline, a counter shape (a hole – like ABDOPR etc) it needs to balance and be upright, and the outline needs to relate to the hole, the proportions need to work together, there needs to be balance. That is what I’m thinking as I draw letters too, Drawing a good O for example is tricky because as you adjust the outline, the counter shape (or inner line) is affected, you can keep changing these and literally find yourself going round in circles. Time for more pictures, less talk!!

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These surfaces are still rough and machined, and will be worked more later, to acheive a smooth surface. This will be done with a combination of diamond cup wheels, spiracut semi-flexible silicone carbide discs, then round velcro sanding discs, and finally wet and dry sandpaper, sanded by hand, to get all the kinks and grooves out from the grinder stages. This is a lot of work, as this stone is so hard, like granite. It is unlike ‘normal’ limestone such as Portland stone or Bath stone. These would be so quick to work in comparison, but not weather very well ultimately.

Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital stone finally installed

hospital seat collage HOORAY!! This stone has taken a while to ‘realise’ from selection interview in November 2011 to installation today. We had an early start this morning as we had to avoid traffic and Hospital activity as much as possible and agreed to arrive on site at 5am to cause as little disruption as possible. This meant the crane arriving at my workshop at 4am this morning, so alarm set for 3.30am…….

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…..then we made the lift and with a bit of fiddling about getting it in exactly the right position, (and trying to get the straps out!) the job was done it a matter of minutes. It feels like the end of an era! The stone has been sat outside my workshop for over 2 years, I’ve enjoyed having it around and watching the light play on it and seeing it change in different conditions. I really hope that this piece is well used as a resting place and that people stop and touch it and enjoy it. While making this piece I was keen to create a textural piece, hopefully a therapeutic object with a grounding influence within this clinical setting with its angular architecture and hard lines. I hope that it draws people in and makes them want to touch and explore the different surfaces; the natural facets, the honed smooth areas and the claw-tooled and punched elements, as well as the carved surfaces. You will notice that on both of the smaller sides there is evidence of the quarrying of the block, you can still see that two of the drill holes are there which are how the block is split in the quarry; a series of holes are drilled in a line and then wedges called ‘plugs and feathers’ are hammered in in sequence until the block splits. I wanted to leave these in as they tell part of the story of the block. This sculpture was commissioned by The Hospital Arts Project and The Organ Donation Department (not using public money, but funded by private individuals). It was important to reflect the theme of organ donation in the words. It was difficult to find some text that seemed appropriate but then I had the idea of using wording inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’. The material is York stone (Woodkirk stone) and it weighs 3.4 tonnes. Thanks to RJ Crane hire for the lifting.

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a few close-ups follow……………….

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Angel in York stone

I’ve been carving another bas-relief anglel in Woodkirk stone. It is in quite bold relief as my client wanted it be be as statuesque as possible. Here’s a quick video and a few pictures. It was fun. It will be installed in a couple of weeks time, in Thrandeston, near Diss, but over the border into Suffolk.

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