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"Art Meets Science 2014" at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory

Posted on 4/16/2014 by David Sywalski

This is going to be a new stone sculpture "Thinker" piece for the "Art Meets Science" show later this summer in 2014 that I have been invited to exhibit at by the Art in Public Spaces (AiPS)

The making of the Thinker a new stone piece.
This is a 36" cube of granite. it weighs about four thousand plus pounds. Here I am turning it over onto what will be the bottom of the sculpture. I am using a fifteen foot tripod made out of cedar logs with a two ton chain hoist. The block is slightly taller on one side and I plan to use that added dimension to make the piece slightly oblate. The granite is from one of the Dakota's and is therefore called Dakota Mahogany. It is a medium grained granite with a warm burgundy color with flecks of lighter orange and polishes very well, it is very unique, and a granite of this color is not found anywhere else. I have not carved any of this type of granite before and I am looking forward to working with it. I have planned a sculpture of a simple and elegant form of a human head and I am going to start the sculpture by first carving a sphere.

Here you can see I am starting the layout for the first cuts. Here I am using a carbide point to make a small mark at the center of the side of the stone. I have done this on each side and the main purpose is to keep track of the furthest outside parts of the sphere as I carve.  Carving uses a lot of water and most everything gets washed off. I have also made a simple beam compass out of a strip of wood with a hole for a colored pencil and a nail, which rests very nicely in that little mark I made with the chisel. I drew a circle on the face of the stone, but really at this point it means nothing as I will not be using it as a guide for cutting.

Here you can see I am set up to make the first cuts. I will be cutting with the orange line as a guide.  I have the angle grinder set up with a nine inch diamond blade with an external water-feed that you can see on the side of the machine. This particular saw is a 220V version, it has a bit more guts than a normal 110. I still have the guard on the machine. Many sculptors take this off as the diamond blades are not that dangerous however I have found that it still does keep most of the water off of the machine. I also do have it plugged into a 220V GFCI. 

You can see here that I have removed material in several levels and that the cube is starting to turn into a cylinder and soon it will start becoming a sphere.
I will have to start thinking about the base stone for the sculpture soon.

Yesterdays work. (Easter Sunday was a great workday)The form is rounding out very nicely and the color and grain is starting to show up very nicely. Right here I am at 46 grit ....still grinding, a few more days of that and I will be polishing.  Starting with 50 grit then 100 grit, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 3000, .....
I am at 50 grit at this point this was yesterday I have just unloaded the base stone off the truck.  The surface was cut with a wire saw at the quarry, this gives me quite a nice flat surface however quite rough. I need to bring it up to a polish so that the sculpture will reflect a bit in the surface. The head form is Dakota Mahogany and I think that the soft warmth of the Sullivan Gray will complement it nicely.
I have the Grinder set up with a water-swivel sometimes called a water jacket. I have to use a lot of water with the polishing pads or they will immediately melt onto the stone. These are seven inch diameter color coded Velcro backed pads.
I also am doing a tune up on the Emerald pearl piece for the show, It has been on display for a while and while I have it back at the studio I have the chance to get all the cob-webs.