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I’ve Got Marble!

It began in January – I decided the time had come to sculpt.

In the late 1970’s I did a lost wax Jaguar casting, a wooden wallet, and a feelie but that ended my three dimensional art until now.

As usual, I wanted to go big. Life size. I wanted to do figures. Being flexible, I was prepared to go as small as half size.

I read up on the materials to know what I should look for in wood and stone.

Marble looked like the ultimate medium to aspire to.

Here’s what I have now learned about it:

Marble is tough stuff that takes a polish and can endure. Hardness is about 3. Weight is about 170 lbs per cubic foot. Availability is very good for those whose means are very large. It’s mined in Colorado, Georgia, and Vermont and costs plenty. Add to that shipping. Add to that I’m not equipped to work on the scale I desire.

Meanwhile, wood for carving hasn’t been any more forthcoming. It has it’s own set of obstacles to aquisition. That hasn’t stopped me from acquiring seasoned alder, some basswood, and that little tiger maple piece that I could not resist.

Close friends took the state mandated lockdown very seriously. To keep in their lives, I walked to their house occasionally to deliver brownies.

On the way, I spied white stone in a flower bed. Not huge.

At first I ignored it. But someone gave me a bit of broke marble counter top. I carried it to my workbench and began to carve a low relief like St. Gaudens except maybe a little cruder.  What I discovered was that marble lived up to the hype. It’s pretty, it’s strong, and it is carvable! I had to have some.

Shopping the sculpture sites didn’t inspire me to get carving marble on line. Far too expensive for my means.

I see why so many sculptors follow this pattern – work out the design in clay  or plaster scaled down then have the carving done in full or partially near a quarry.

Well, my quarry was a flower bed. I was sure it was actual marble, so I bought a piece off the owner and carried it home on my shoulder. Thirty seven pounds of potential glory on my shoulders.

I cleaned it up and tested it and offered to buy the rest. The wife of the man said okay via text and now I have all five pieces. The first one was the best of the lot though I hoped otherwise.

Nevertheless, I got them all and brought them home, cleaned them up, and brought them inside the house where I smile every time I see them.

Knowing I would stage any sculpture idea first in clay, I started reading up on that medium. So far I’ve tried plasticine, oven bake, and water based firing clay.

Terracotta is the word I associate with the water based clay. So far I like each clay for different reasons but for my purposes, the terracotta wins. The jury is not out, since I have yet to carry it through it’s process life. But I have 300 lbs to work with and dwindling funds.

I’ve spent much time looking at pictures of lots from the auction houses to see what people with savy and skill have done with bronze, marble, ivory, and terracotta figures over the centuries and the possibilities for each medium excite me greatly.

And now, I have marble!



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