Category Archives: Personal Interests

Elephant Sculpture on Koh Chang: progress photos

Here’s an update on the elephant sculpture. Not finished yet, but getting there!
























Magic! These are just progress photos, the model should really start shaping up when I go back and visit the real thing! Her name is Churi.


Elephant Sculpture on Koh Chang

After looking around Wat Salak Phet I started asking the people still working there painting the sculptures, when the sculptor was coming back, and if I could help when he does. Everyone said he left in a hurry for another job, and no one really knows when/if he is coming back. Too bad, I really wanted to know more about the process. Although I can deduce a little bit about how the sculpture is made, that still tells me nothing about what kind of cement mixture he is using, or about any kind of prep work you need to do to the surface before applying the ornaments. I don’t even know how long you leave the cement in the plaster mold before the cement completely adheres to it! I’m sure there is plenty of steps I am missing, and the only way to know is to see it done.

When I was asking around about the sculptor I had photos of my work with me, and the head monk of the temple came over to take a look. He was impressed and said I could make a sculpture for the temple if I wanted to, and they would provide the supplies! Since Koh Chang means ‘elephant island’ I suggested making an elephant. The monk showed me a patch of grass where I could make a large sculpture, which was nice, but I didn’t want to get in over my head.

First I needed some clay so I could make a few quick studies, or maquettes. I asked one of the painters, Phoom, who spoke english, if he knew where I could get clay. He said yes, and that I could come back the next day to go with him to pick up some clay. The next day, he took me to a ditch further down the road and sure enough, there was clay there with rocks and roots and all! I could tell it was nice white clay, and it was going to take some work, but it was free–and I can go back for more any time I like.

So it took a full week just to dry out the clay, crush it up, take out the big rocks and roots, and let it sit in water for a night. There were still too many little rocks in the clay, so I had to filter it a second time with a finer screen. Now I have a pretty good amount of clay, but it is still slip (clay in liquid form).



I managed to dry enough in the sun to make a maquette. Here it is:


Here I am working on the maquette, with the head monk, Pa Ahjahn.

and it took another two weeks before I could get a ride to the mainland to buy some plaster for a plaster table for drying out wet clay. Now I have the plaster table, and some old plaster molds I found in the inner temple courtyard but they still need to dry out before proper use.

      The lack of readily usable clay doesn’t prevent me from getting started on the larger elephant model. The temple has plenty of extra steel rod lying around, and there is a workshop down the road with a welding machine. The workshop I went to is used mainly for boat repair.

Plenty of space to weld an elephant armature! First time I’ve welded without gloves, and in flip flops!

Next, I applied drywall plaster to the armature. Now all I have to do is wedge out a lot of clay…

Practice piece/ Übungsstück

I’m far from Granite country, ladies and gents. Out here in Germany, they most carve sandstone. There may be work for me in the future, but first I have to show that I can also carve sandstone like they do in the old country.

This piece is being done entirely by hand (no pneumatics or angle grinders) and without pointing. It’s not exact, it’s not as accurate as I’d like it to be, but it’s been a great learning experience. Sandstone is a delight to carve, and is very much like modeling in clay, as opposed to the uphill battle that is granite carving.


The stone I chose wasn’t big enough to fit the entire body of the dophin, and I didn’t want to do the extra work of measuring to make a half size version so I could fit the entire body into the stone. In hindsight, that may have been easier and more beneficial… the version I am making now is the dolphin coming out of the water, without the fin on his back.

Hopefully I get this done before I bounce to Thailand for the winter!



It’s getting dark much earlier these days, and by the time I want to take some photos at the end of the day it’s dark already. The hold doesn’t help me hold the camera steady, either… here is the practice piece with the model I am loosely working from. It’s a kind of baroque dolphin that you would see in Italy — in fountains, door handles, belt buckles, etc. Not much like a dolphin at all, aber ist einfach so.

This is still very rough. Lot of work to go, but I love how fast things can go once you know what you want. I am not really at a point where I can fluently make observations and then go to the right chisel to get what I want. It’s trial and error until the owner of the shop comes by and say, “What the hell are you doing? You do it like this…”

The chisels that one uses for sandstone are very different from the chisels for granite. They are all very thin and sharp, and you never pound the stone directly. It’s more like modeling with a rake tool in clay. You might notice that some of the surfaces are pretty smooth. That’s because I have no idea what I am doing and I wanted to try out the flat chisels. I know now that the entire sculpture should be covered in rake marks (the striped pattern on the back created by a 4 toothed chisel) until the very end.

After showing the pictures to Jerry from Barre  he reacted with a similar, “what the hell are you doing?” but after the initial wave of criticism he softened up and said I should make the scales rounder, and pop in the eye so I know what I’m doing. So here’s where I’m at now.

Of course, Jerry was right. The rest of the piece seems to make more sense now. Next on the list is the lips and teeth, the I will probably finish up with smoothing out the back and doing the rest of the scales.

So this is the start of my first piece in sandstone. I have really enjoyed it, and learning about new tools and techniques. More to come later on!


Could I get a hell, yes!?? First travel gig. Me and the boys from Berlin gonna SHOW YOU SOMETHIN’, the 10th and 11th in ANTWERP, baby! Check us out this Saturday at the Barcode in Antwerp, Muntstraat 22. and Sunday at Cafe the Joker


Text in Stone

While I was at home in Vermont this Thanksgiving, I tried my hand at carving text in stone at the shop.


Here is my first try.


Here is My second attempt.

Here is the Third try in a larger font size. Just one letter in this size takes much longer to carve because of the increased depth (1/2in.) The font is Trajan.

Group Show in Prenzlauerberg

I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group show at new gallery in Prenzlauerberg across from the Kulturbrauerei called GHYCZY. To be more specific, I was exhibiting my jewelry in the section of the gallery called New Values. These are just the kind of talented artists I would like to be shown with!

Here are some Photos from the opening that at the end of September.

Thanks very much to Ksenia Obukhova for having me in the show!  Also thanks to Nick Simpson for taking these photos, and if you would like to see more pictures of my jewelry and know a little bit more about it, look under the Schmuck/Popular Usage tab on the top right corner of this page.

Absalon bei Kunst-Werke Berlin

In his interview with the Ecole Nationale Superierure des Beaux-arts (Paris Academy of the Fine Arts) the artist Absalon refers to himself as an architect aspiring to “close the gap between his thoughts and his life”. The embodiment of these aspirations are his houses, or Cells, which are indeed the center pieces of the exhibition presented by the Kunst Werke Institution of Contemporary Art in Berlin. The exhibition is the most thorough presentation of Absalon’s art to date, and covers nearly his entire body of work.

Before his untimely death in Oct. 1993 due to AIDS, Absalon was realizing his most ambitious project in which six Cells of his design were to be installed in six different cities (Paris, Zürich, Frankfurt, New York, Tel Aviv, Tokyo) where the artist would then live in them for an extended period of time.


At first glance Absalon’s white Cells look as if they are an ultra-modern housing development from Apple Computers, but are built with the wisdom of antiquity by using measurements taken from the artists own body. Absalon painstakingly took measurements of his height, arm span, and shoulder width to serve a minimalist form and function. In addition, the houses are built for specific sties in each city, yet emphasize a complete cultural disconnect with their surroundings.

Absalon’s houses are “in no way utopian”, and are minimal to the point of playful discomfort. Once inside, one does not always have the ability to stand up straight. The rooms afford only enough room to serve basic single functions, and are intended to demonstrate how we can learn to live with discomfort through custom or routine. The Cells were originally intended to be left unkempt after fulfilling their use, making their preservation an otherworldly monument to life.


After viewing the entire exhibition one can see the close attention Absalon pays to process, in how he brings his Cells to life from sketch, to scale model, and finally full scale construction. The installation of sculptures on the second and third floors bear resemblance to his scale models, as if he always had something larger and more prolific in mind.

Here is a great link to a video of the exhibition and interview (Deutsch) with the director of Kunst-Werke Berlin, Susanne Pfeffer.