Monday, December 04, 2006

still here. designing

just wanted to let everyone who reads this occasionally i'm still here. I've been busy designing and building a deck for a client here in town.

Moriah and I built this one out of a pressure treated alternative. that means no copper and/or arsenic in the wood. They use borate to keep it from rotting. It's a great "green" option for new decks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

walnut woman

I've just started another sculpture. This woman will be both carved and assembled. using this beautiful Black Walnut wood given to me by a friend i'll make an articulated female figure. I'm hoping to find some type of ball joint to stand in for actual joints. i'm not sure exactly how that problem will be solved, but if anyone has a suggestion i'd be happy to entertain it. i'm looking for hardwared that is both strong and positionable. for example, if i raise the arm i would like to stay in place, either by friction or by tightening. Below is a picture of her legs. I have the pelvis, feet, and right arm/shoulder ready for rough out.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Horse - 14 hours

This past week I had a great opportunity come up. I was commissioned a horse. 18"x18"x8" in Red Oak.
The catch was that the clients were leaving TODAY. So I decided to run outside and gather up the chainsaw and chisels.
That was Monday afternoon. Tuesday, Weds, Thursday. By the afternoon of Thurs it was done.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Totem - Day 46 +2

On Monday October 9, I installed the Totem Pole on 5th St in Charlottesville. I took one last shot of it before dismantling. That night I loaded it up into the trailer for the next morning and I was ready to go.

When I arrived at the site, Jake was there waiting. He's running the boom truck. Boy, that truck was nice to have. without it I would have needed 6 bulky guys and a yorkshire terrier to install it. The site needed a little prep before proceeding. I had to cut the bolts to size and drill holes in the concrete footer. Fit the first head and its base to those corresponding holes and set the bolts in epoxy.

Ole' Jake hooked up the first head and whipped it over to the footer. "Not so high", I thought. Seeing the first couple of heads go up was exciting. In just an hour we had the whole sculpture in place and we were packing up the tools. It went as smooth as I could have hoped for.

2 million cars drive 5th st every year. That's a lot more visibility than I've ever had before. Overall the project to 46 days. That's from the first cut to installation. The sculpture is 11' tall and weighs about 1800 lbs. The woods, from the bottom are: white oak, red oak, cherry, cedar, and black walnut. Next up is a little Red Oak horse commission and a Black Walnut figure that i've all ready started.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Totem - Day 35

We are getting to the nitty gritty, folks. I've made some special modification on the back side which i'll get a shot of next time. And i just realized that i haven't been photing the back up until now. Needless, i guess, because it was just the back of the heads. I've begun glopping her up with some sealant to deter rot, mold and uninvited insect squatters. The white oak, as my brother pointed out to me, will be the best defense against those three previosly mentioned visitors Although the Cedar would probably take the prize for top rot resister of the group. Anyway it's trivial, because i'm gloppin' it up. I hope the UV rays don't burn it right off.

In order to reach all those hard to reach places I have to dismantle the entire sculpture again. (200th time) In this picture I have the second head suspended above the bottom head so that i can reach the under carriage. The rest of the seven heads are laying on the ground waiting for a second coating.
I'll need to construct a base to fasten the sculpture onto the cement footer Art in Place is providing. I'll do that using a presure treated wood alternative from a local Green Building supplier in town called Nature Neutral They have some great supplies, check 'em out. The next photo is the spot where i'll install the sculpture and it will stay for the next year unless purchased. See how close it is to the road! yikes.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

totem - Day 31

The past few days I have been sitting and watching the carving. I'm just trying to take it in for all its worth. I'm sharpening my chisels and gauges doing a bit of refinement here and there. Mostly though the process has brought me to a point where there will be a just a few more touches. The faces are, i believe, in a good state between character/anime, like a biker gang and ancient warriors stacked up in memorial.

One thought has been to carve a single face in back of the third head. It is both the only piece of wood that has enough girth to accomodate a rear looking face and it is the middle of the sculpture. I think it will pose balance for the viewer as they fly past the sculpture. It is to be placed in the median on 5th st extnd. speed limit 45mph. a bit too quick for my taste, but what can i do. next year.

Monday, September 18, 2006

totem - Day 26

Nearly a month after i started and i am finis.... hold on..i just had a great day of carving. Yesterday i was able to get three heads started and nearly finished. today after some juggling, i fit those heads, pegged them together with oak dowels and began refining them.The top head (the 7th) is a spitting image of the second head, just in miniature. Yes, its seven heads now.
As Harris likes to say, "that's a nice pile of heads you got there."

The most challenging part of the process right now is fitting and pegging the heads together so they are secure and stable. Each head has to be levelled on the top and bottom and then the hole must be bored straight and square to the surface. Doing that is a bit tricky. But the top four heads are fit and secure and now i must address the bottom three monsters. the bottom head weighs in close to 600 lbs.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

totem - Day 22

Looks like rain and clouds again today, so there might not be too much progress.
But i did stack all the heads i have so far.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

totem - Day 21

So far so good. I've refined all the heads that under way. I'm considering the 5th and possibly a 6th head. It'll have a russian doll effect maybe. i'm running ideas through my head. I also have to consider the location where it will be placed. Right now it looks like 5th street in the median. To me, it seems a fast to view the sculpture and not enough frontal viewing. The heads having faces require a 270 degree view from the front. But that is jsut the opinion of the sculptor.

I've decided to put in some slightly futuristic elements on the sculpture. This head (pictured above) has goggles pushed up on his helmet. and the bottom head has a microphone attached to his helmet. they are slight details, but necessary to position the sculpture in both the past with the Olmec and the future with technologica.
The last few days have been great but the rain and slightly drizzly weather has kept me from working any long hours out there. Mostly i've just had the sander and the chisels out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Totem - Day 13

Today it rained, the sun came out, it rained. Each time I put the tools away and brought them back out I thought that would be it for the day. Anyway i managed to get a good amount of time in.
I thought I might describe some of the tools I use daily. I have this 4 1/2" Dewault angle grinder with Lancelot blades and disks. These disks allow me to carve out the contours of the form quickly and smoothly. I also use a Poulan 220 with 16" bar for little straight cutting and shaping and a Stihl 440 with a 20" bar for the big cutting.

Generally the process goes from big tools to little ones, but i'm always dancing between the range of saws, grinders, chisels, and gouges. I love my set of Marples chisels. They stay sharp a long time and perform many tasks. My drill is a Bosch 18 volt cordless. I used it today along with a 17" ship auger bit to bore the holes for the steel connector pins. What a strong drill! It hasn't failed me yet.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Totem - Day 11

Day 11 and I have 4 heads fit. After a couple days of Tropical Storm Ernesto rain and winds, I'll get back out there today. My deadline is in October and I have a ways to before I install the sculpture.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Totem - Day 06

My gut feeling was right, I had to go back into the woods and drag out another chunk of Red Oak(sitting at the base of the sculpture) to replace the previous middle head. The wood was some sort of Juniper/Conifer that i was taking a chance on. It just wasn't solid wood. I widdled down 8-10" off of its diameter and it still wasn't solid. There was some rot inside. I'll chop it up for kindling. I wasted some time on it, but I'm happy to have the Red Oak in its place. So now the sculpture will have the following wood from bottom to top: White Oak, Red Oak, Cherry, Walnut. I also rearranged the order of the heads. The Olmec head reads nicely at eye level. It will sit second in line from the bottom. I was happily rained out today. We haven't had enough rain this summer. Below is a shot of the olmec head at night.

This Cherry head will sit 4th in line. It's well under way after only an hour of carving, but still needs quite a bit of refining.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

art in place - Totem Pole day 3

I made good progress today. The bottom head is starting to come out looking a lot like an olmec head. I'm not so crazy about the middle head right now, and i think it may change some more. It might split into two heads back to back. I also added a top head, cherry wood from an old log i had hanging around.

A dilemma right now is whether I add a new larger head at the bottom to balance the transition between the steadily decreasing diameter of wood i'm using; get another piece of wood from my stock; or go with what i have and see if i can make the transition work smoothly.
choices, choices.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Art in Place - Totem Pole

I am sculpting a Totem Pole this year for the Charlottesville Art in Place exhibition. I started with a sketch. I found some great hardwoods to use for these stacked heads. White Oak, Cherry, and possibly Black Walnut at the top.
I am looking at several sources for inspiration including the giant Olmec heads of ancient mexico. I also love some of the vinyl toys like those of artists Tim Biskup and Nathan Jurevicius
I constructed a simple tripod system using a hoist to raise and lower the heads into position. Each head must have a level top and bottom plane for the pole to succesfully stand plum.

more to come...

Monday, August 21, 2006

The First Totem Pole

After getting started I was able to see more clearly what the wood was capable of. Also, the design was changing slowly to fit the area available.

The process took about 5 months from beginning to end.

It happened quickly. As it always does in hindsight.

I looked to the Tlingit and Haida of the Northwest Coast for inspiration for this 12' tall pole.

Monday, August 14, 2006

1st and Foremost

Today is Miriam's birthday. She's 25. We are going out for a bite to eat and then for a gelato cake at Splendoras.
Also, today I started work on a new job. I'm working on a pathway. Using the client's soapstone tiles I'll dry lay pieces to fit in a a bed of stone dust. It was hot, but not too hot. I made good progress on it. I'd say i'm right on schedule. 2 days to lay the pathway and a day or two to repoint the back patio.
It's the 4th job in the Fry Springs neighborhood. It started with a long stone wall at the corner of Robertson and Highland, followed by two more jobs just a litte ways down Highland. The neighbors there have a tight little community of young families living in bungalows.