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41 Sculptures Split and Carved from a Single Slab of Colorado Yule Marble
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I’m not sure how I could have recognized the importance of the occasion on that fateful day in September of 2011. At the time I was simply breaking up a slab of stone that had sat untouched in my yard for over two years.
But from the very outset something told me this was no routine stone carving proposition; the seemingly unfathomable forces I unleashed as I split the roughly ten ton slab at first had me utterly perplexed.
Even at this early stage it soon became evident that forces were at play that I knew little or nothing about. ‘Mabel’ was flexing her muscles but at the time I was blissfully unaware of her existence (Innocent lamb that I was back then!)
Clearly something was odd about the shapes appearing before my eyes – repeated angles, all following the newly revealed grain of the stone, tore the marble apart in such a fashion that the hard-as-iron granite intrusions split outside of its own veining exposing a kaleidoscopic world of incredible swirling patterns and jagged crags. And at the same time it all looked to my unbelieving eyes like part of some magnificent overall design.
And once the action switched to the workshop the full scale of the task at hand soon became abundantly clear.
Somehow I had to make sense of all this. What exactly was I going to do with such lumps… lumps that very much, for all intents and purposes seemed to possess a mind of their own? (Certainly a will at least!).
True to her name Mabel (above) proved perhaps the toughest nut of all! Here you can see my repeated attempts to make her see sense but she was having none of it. No matter what I did, how I swore, or what I threatened she was simply NOT going to split the way I wanted, and that was the end of it.
Clearly there was no point to be gained in fighting the forces at work here. In truth I had come to terms with Mabel long before I came to carve her.
During the course of carving The Maiden Collection there were several ‘ah-ha’ moments that have come to be known to me by the piece I was working on when the penny dropped and I found I had rounded another corner, and a new understanding was born. So as the collection was being carved I had 41 separate opportunities to study and perfect my knowledge of the properties of the stone that was proving so utterly fascinating to carve. Each time I could continue carving precisely where I left off with the previous piece.
(The following photographs by Aspen photographer Steve Mundinger)
In the very beginning I wasn’t even sure whether this unlikely looking stuff could even be carved.
My first task was to fashion a simple shape, polish it up, and take a good look at it.
At once I could immediately see the potential of this intriguing new material. I had worked marble prior to The Maiden Collection but the properties of this slab were entirely different than anything I had ever come across before. I was accustomed to a marble free of intrusions, a stone that could be trusted to oblige my every whim, enabling me to do with it what I may. But here was this stubborn, beautiful material steadfastly seeming to thwart my every move.
Believe it or not Adam was only the second piece of The Maiden Collection to be carved, the whole story though is a little more complicated; Adam and his partner Eve are the only two pieces I returned to once I had pronounced them finished.
It was only after I had carved several bowls – including Magellan, Longboat, The Maiden, Noah’s Ark and Four Corners – that I turned my attention back to the bowl that had started it all. So building on the knowledge I had gained carving so many bowls I carried Adam back into the workshop to be given ‘the treatment’ that would make his walls as thin, colorful and illuminated as the stained glass they invoke.
Eve’s post production makeover proved everything as striking and successful as Adam’s… with Eve receiving her dramatic sculpted cutaway for good measure.
The process of coming to grips with the task at hand happened remarkably swiftly, the Devil lay in the details. I knew what I wanted to do, the question was how?
For a while carving bowls out of this new fascinating material became something of an obsession. There was something very gratifying about turning a huge, heavy block of stone weighing several hundred pounds at the outset into a bowl weighing just one tenth of the block’s original weight.
Mother of Pearl Rough Block, And I.
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