Splitting the Twins

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

Splitting the Final Two Blocks

of the ‘Autumn of 14’ Collection

Colorado Yule Marble Sculpture

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

As I write these words, with but a mere five potential working days until the completion of my ‘Autumn of 14’ Collection of Colorado Yule Marble Sculpture, and with the uncanny spring-like weather we have (alarmingly enough) been basking in  lately here in Woody Creek, I have to report that practically every waking hour these past weeks have been lovingly devoted to exploiting this otherworldly December heatwave by spending as much time as possible hard at work in my studio workshop: such cool, crisp, perpetually comfortable working conditions serve up a deliciously evocative and enticing sculpting nirvana to a Curvilinear Reductionist Rogue Carver such as myself.

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

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Consequently I’m happy to announce the arrival of three more sculptures swelling the ranks of the eight existing  ‘Autumn of 14’ pieces; and with the final carving currently residing in the workshop awaiting its finishing touches, it means my current body of work will feature a dozen sculptures in total.

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.I will be posting each new carving’s Home Page in the coming days but in today’s blog I thought I would share a few photos of the ‘plug and feather’ splitting method I utilize in order to create my work. This rough and tumble phase of the carving process is an aspect of marble sculpting that I very much enjoy.

 

As I have mentioned many times previously it is my habit to study, examine and thoroughly get to know any block of marble that I aim to carve. Ideally a month or two will elapse before anything so drastic as a hammer, chisel or grinder is called into action. On occasion a year… several years in fact, can drift by before a particular block may come under the hammer.

In most instances once a block has been selected for carving I isolate it from its pals in order to take a good, long hard look at it and re-assess the multitude of ideas that have at one time or another surfaced regarding a finished piece of sculpture.

In these final few moments for the rough block, sitting there before me, much is at stake, and in that moment the possibilities are quite breathtakingly limitless. But before I haul it into my workshop and up onto the banker (worktable) I feel I must obtain a clear picture of exactly how I am to proceed, whilst at the same time ascertaining just where the veining, the fault lines, the cracks and the crumblies lay hidden, and where the good stuff congregates… important details such as these.

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

Splitting Girl in the Moon, Hand Carved Marble Mask, by MARTIN COONEY, rough block.

At this point I must mention that it’s a tad unwise to get too cozy with any particular notion of a final product, beyond the most basic conceptual outline, for there is still a very long way to go, and the Curvilinear Reductionist carving process is comprised of many chapters  – each one offering its own often unannounced twists and turns along the way.

Usually, once my mind has reached a viable consensus, and a plan of attack hashed out, I set-to with my familiar array of tools to embark upon the physically challenging ‘roughing out’ stage of the carving process; a phase I have come to know as ‘Combat Masonry’ as a nod to my formative stone carving years as a banker mason.

 

However occasionally the mysterious process that results in an idea taking hold and gaining traction (or at least a direction in which to proceed) involves the splitting, or further splitting, of a rough block into two or more pieces, and such was the case with two blocks I selected for the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth carvings of the ‘Autumn of 14’ Collection.

 

The decision to bring out the plug and feathers and split the last two blocks of Colorado Yule Marble grew from a desire to include a sampling of the natural, untooled, split surface that serve to define many of the key sculptures of my previous two collections, as exemplified by landmark sculptures such as Mabel, Reversed Equation, Oblique Perspective and Dreadnought, to name but a few.

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

After having blazed the way with the ‘1314 Winter Collection’s’ Industrial Evolution and Mystique Masque I had long since made the decision to include a pair of my new trademark Marble Masques within the ‘Autumn of 14’ Collection, and once my mind caught a glimpse of this beautiful and seemingly reliably white block splitting perfectly along its longest axis the gauntlet had been laid – this was a challenge I simply could not resist!

Splitting Girl in the Moon & Salt of the Earth, Hand Carved Marble Masks, by MARTIN COONEY, rough blocks.

I knew this block could handle the subtle stresses a wafer-thin masque demands of its marble and I felt this particular piece held all the qualities necessary to produce the sharp-edged and complex bas relief surface carving of a Curvilinear Marble Masque, while at the same time prove structurally sound enough to withstand the grueling and unforgiving splitting and carving process.

 

The second stone splitting escapade resulted in two entirely different pieces of quite unequal and altogether irregular blocks that would ultimately produce the collection’s penultimate and ultimate sculptures.

You’ll be able to view for yourself the results of all this drilling and splitting as I will be posting the remaining Home Pages for each of the Autumn of 14 Collection’s final four sculptures over the coming days; Girl in the Moon, Salt of the Earth, Troglodyte Cloister, and the piece I am currently at work upon… Curvilinear Campfire.

Girl in the Moon, Hand Carved Marble Mask, by MARTIN COONEY, rough block.

OK then, until I am back in a day or two with Girl in the Moon’s Home Page, the first of this final quartet of carvings, I want to thank you for stopping by and wish you a very Happy Winter!

“Cheers”

Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy

Martin

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