Friday, December 17, 2010

Flossing Marble

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

On occasion I wonder if there is something wrong with me. Today there was one such occasion. I always seem to push myself to the point of “why are you making this more complicated than it has to be?” or, at least, more complicated (read “costly”) than other professional artists would bother with. And yet, I have decided that it is this extra detail that makes the art perhaps worthy of awe and keeps me challenged and intellectually engaged. [Most often, the reason is about how the light falls on the form, such as in the space around the legs in “Eric” and the deep hole between the figures in “Together and Alone.”] I also am learning something new, although sometimes I think the lesson is “Boy, I never wanna do THAT again!” [No, seriously, I am happy when I pull off the complicated part and think the idea works how I intended.]

In this case, I am speaking about my current work-in-progress, the “Gymnast” in Colorado Yule Marble. The female figure is sitting in a pike position, feet reaching to the sky, as she tucks her chin close to her chest, her forehead pushed up against her shins. Her head will be in profile and yet there is enough air space between the folded up body parts that my hope is to carve a beautiful face that I can barely access.

I received some wonderful measuring tools last Christmas. The one shown is a depth gauge. I have drawn (and redrawn as needed each time the marble gets removed) the centerline for the face and legs. And I work out from this line to shape the face. I recently bought a die grinder with a 3-inch extension and this helps me reach inside amazingly well. It is slow going, but I prefer more thinking to wrong cutting. In stone carving, I only get one chance, after all.

While I do focus in one area of an artwork for a good amount of time, I also step back and take a look often at the entire composition. It is not long before I start creating other lines from other viewpoints than strictly working the profile (image # 2).

Many years ago at the MARBLE/marble Sculpture Symposium in Marble, Colorado, I saw a diamond-coated rod that was designed to be added to a hacksaw. It looked cool to me, so I bought it. A couple of years ago, I saw it lying there unused in my toolbox and chided myself for my enthusiastic, but misguided decision.

That said, today I realized that ”flossing marble” is the very thing I need to do! And of the tools that I have, this diamond wire might be the safest one to use for this task. How else can I remove a long and narrow portion of marble between the nose and legs of the “Gymnast”?

I just wish that it did not take so long . . .

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