Monthly Archives: November 2009

Squirrels on Locust?

For those of you out there who don’t know, last year I designed a sculpture for a public art project at the University of Pennsylvania. The project was called Squirrels on Locust, and was funded and installed by the Art Club at Upenn. The concept for the project was put forward by Senior John Agbaje, and I designed the sculpture that would be reproduced over 30 times for a large scale public installation. Each squirrel was bought by different student groups at Upenn, and then painted once the sculpture was cast. It was a lot of work, and my schoolwork definitely suffered due to the amount of time spent on this project…

I bring it up now, because the squirrels were re-installed this year and have created a stir in the Philidelphia media! Here is a link to the Fox29 news story. There will also be another story in the Philadelphia Inquirer tomorrow. I will post that link when I have it. All in all, there have been over 4 stories about the project in the Daily Pennsylvanian (that link takes you to the other story). The projects website put together by the art club is still up and running, and the link to it is on the right hand side of this page.

Here are some photos of the project to show how much hard work went into the whole thing, and how dick it is to steal them. Could they have been secured a little better? Yes, with TRIPLE the budget that we were working with.

This is the original clay, which I then casted in plaster so that I could take it on the train back to the iladelph.

The arms were glued back on later. Once little whitey was down in the studio (art club headquarters), I then made 4 silicone molds so we could cast an entire army.

The one on the far right is the first one we cast, the one in the middle was in need of repairs, and the one on the right is a final copy. This is what they looked like before being painted. I don’t have pictures of all of the different paint designs, but it was really something to see them all being painted and individualized. I met a lot of really great people, and the project was a great success. Except for the theft. Oh, and a few were broken into pieces, but still — everyone got involved!!!

Great job to everyone involved, and I hope that they are all found and brought together again.

Angel Carving

Here is a gravestone I’ve been doing. Here’s the model. Original artwork done by Jerry (I’m just the muscle).



First the a drawing on the stone to mark the outline of the relief.


Then holes are drilled around the drawing, and the stone surrounding the drawing is knocked back.


Cuts are made to remove the stone easier. Larger saws require water.


The right side is what it looks like after the cuts are knocked back. The left side is planed down with a diamond saw, now chiseling has to be done to push the stone back another 1/4 in. , removing pockmarks and creating a level surface.


This is how far I’ve gotten to date. It may not look like much, but to create a level surface without chipping the edges or going too deep is pretty hard. You can’t actually use an angle grinder until everything has been brought down with a couple different chisels.

This is also a good example of how apprentices start learning to carve. The area around the stone left for the carving is called a niche. A lot of niches are circular or oval. I would say those are a bit easier, but it is tricky to make a nice edge on those too. What’s nice is that once this is out of the way I can go back to carving sculpture. I definitely have a greater appreciation for clay now.

The crazy thing that I never really think about is… this is someones gravestone.


Elephant Detail



With one statue out the door, there is more space for new work. The second elephant is being set up while the first one is nearing completion, and there is a gravestone which I started on Monday (11/9/09).


Here is the elephant in its new position. I’ve been working on the legs and the leaf detail that surrounds them. First off, we laid the elephant on its side.









Installation Day

The soldier finally went out last week, just in time for Veteran’s Day tomorrow. It was installed in Keesville, NY. Keesville is a small town on the edge of the Adirondack Park, and let me tell you, this statue is probably the most beautiful thing (and I hope I’m not offending the good people of Keesville when I say this) that this town has. Here is a picture of the site before installation.


As you can see, not much going on. In the next shot you will see the crane set up next to the installation site. It was a 40-ton crane, which is roughly the weight of the entire monument.




Here is a shot of the first section of the base being installed. The straps were a little long in my opinion. In the end the length doesn’t affect maneuverability. In the next photo, we have the background section of the base being installed, with Jerry doing big arms (Eddie Izzard reference).



Here we have the trickiest part of the whole installation. The problem is simple, you can’t remove the straps without leaving a space between the two stones (blocking), and everything has to fit perfectly. The blocking here creates a pivot point for the stone to rock (no pun intended) backwards, and the blocking is then removed with the help of two steel bars temporarily drilled into the front end.


The crane then lifted up the front end of the base so the blocking could be removed, and we then registered the background by hand! This was made possible by putting a layer of silicone (which also protects agains weathering/lichen getting into the cracks) between the two sections. This was enough lubrication to move the 7-ton block by hand. Amazing.


Lastly, the soldier was installed into the base. The original block has been reconstructed.


On the right we have the man who commission the sculpture. He’s got a pretty sweet junkyard full of old army trucks and other scrap (which he turned into a pretty lucrative business) to match that jacket.


Not Bad


Here we have Jerry and the Lord of Keesville himself. For the final photo, an epic sepia photo. Looks like its been there for generations…