Tag Archives: Vermont

Voltaire Continued

Once you’ve done all the roughing out with black granite, then you really start to appreciate the detail that you can get with this stone. The grain is really fine, and the dense stone is really strong, allowing you to use smaller and smaller chisels for fine detail. I have just started to punch in the eyes, and will be finishing those up, and trying to get the finer wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

As you can see, I am working from photos at this point and trying to take my sculpture farther than the cast that I used to rough the face out. There are multiple versions of Voltaire done by Houdon, depicting him bald, and with a headband and wig. I am doing the version with the headband, but trying to go after the detail of the marble carving.

At this point, drawing on the stone is important, and more enjoyable than it is during the earlier phases. Through constant drawing and re-drawing, you eventually achieve the level of detail desired. I’ve added 4 new chisels to the mix, and may invent a few of my own as I progress.

Voltaire Case Study

In this post I will show you the phases of a pointed stone carving start to finish. Of course, I’m not showing all the tools I am using at each phase, but some things are just tricks of the trade and will remain a mystery… unless you want to come to Vermont and see for yourself!

The photo shows the initial cuts in the stone, and the first few points made from the original.

Here, I’ve cleared away a lot of the stone between points and started to go after some of the details.

At this point, I would say the piece is “roughed out”, and I am ready to start going after the details.

After roughing the piece out, I begin to become more systematic and go after sections of the face. I’ve started with the mouth, and I will move my way up the face, and then begin to push farther back to get some of the jaw line and the ears. For the finished piece, I would like to create an effect that the face has emerged out of a rough piece of stone, and leave marks from each phase.

True Blood

After a few grueling weeks hunched over this granite block, I’ve come out with something that I would call finished. We’re still not sure who from history is depicted here, so if anything screams out at you let me know.

For my next sculpture, I will be doing a full size portrait of Voltaire. Through reliable sources I obtained a copy of the original sculpture done by Jean-Antoine Houdon, which sits in Montpellier, France.

This week thing got off to a rough start. Unlike Houdon, my sculpture will be carved out of South African black granite, which I like to call, Unabtainium (it was a toss up between Unabtainium and Kryptonite, you decide which is funnier). South African black has turned out to be not only extremely hard, requiring me to swing the hammer a little harder each time I need to break something off, but as sharp as broken glass when it splits. Oh, I’ve had my fair share of missed swings, but this week was brutal. This may not look like much, but bare in mind this is after 3 missed swings at full speed with a 8lb sledge.

It’s puffier than a muffin top.

5 minutes of grunting, stamping, and teeth grinding later, I found out just how sharp this stone is.

Being something of a fatalist, I decided that life was trying to tell me something. Just moments before this photo was taken there was literally blood pouring down my face. Kind of like that scene from The Fifth Element when Zorg is talking to the darkness… The piece of stone hit me directly in the middle of my forehead, right in my third eye. I immediately looked up what a bindi represents on wikipedia. Apparently, the bindi represents concealed wisdom, and strengthens concentration. The bindi is placed on the site of the sixth Chakra called, Ajna.

It was like an ironic epiphany to start bleeding out of my mind’s eye and I do feel a bit wiser and definitely more focused…

Profile/Recent Work

For my first piece this summer I will copy a roman relief carving of… a senator. If you can tell who it it from the picture please let me know. We have the plaster cast in the shop and I figured it would be good practice to get started. I’ve been doing all the with with a pointing machine and things are going pretty smoothly.

Eagle Installation

So I’ve been back in Vermont for about 3 weeks now. Since I’ve been back I went down to East Hartford, Connecticut with Jerry for an installation of one of his most recently finished pieces. The eagle monument was a historical restoration job. The original was carved out of brownstone just after the civil war.

Job well done!

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…



The Workshop

Jerry out front.


For the next 6 weeks I will be working at Barre Sculpture Studios, helping Jerry out in the shop. At the moment we have a couple projects going on. All together, it would seem that we are the elves of some kind of Republican public art workshop. Which is actually kinda cool. I posted the elephants already, which I am working on at the moment. The other major project is “G.I. Joe” who is triumphantly walking out of a scene of rubble. The figure is nearly complete. Only the portrait and the base is left.

This past week, the text dedicating the memorial was sandblasted into the side of the base.


A special tent was set up in the shop next door by Memorial Sandblast to accommodate the 6ft by 6ft Base.



Meanwhile in the next room Jerry is putting a white patina on the rifle that will be worn by the soldier.


and Gampo is working on the portrait.