Carving at Pala Studios
DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT
Marble carving begins with the selection of the stone. I hand select each block of marble from the vast stone yards in Pietrasanta and Carrarra, Italy.
Each stone, like individual people, is different; each stone possesses unique characteristics and actually has its own personality. First, it has its shape defined by specific dimensions which will have a powerful voice in the finished form of the sculpture. Second, it has its grain and density of crystalline structure which has much to say about the dialogue of technique(s) used to carve the stone. Third is the color and nature of any veining flowing through the stone which strongly dictates design and orientation concepts for the artist's plan.
Once I have carefully studied and selected a block of marble, I measure the specific dimensions of each side and facet. Then I make a variety of perspective drawings as viewed from different angles of the stone. The measuring and drawings assist me in developing a strong familiarity with the characteristics, proportions and personality of its specific form. I then quickly form a maquette (or three dimensional model) of the stone in terra-cotta clay.
With this miniature replica, I can easily lift, turn and view the stone in my hand. At this point I usually have no preconceived plan for the carving as I choose to have the nature of the stone play a strong roll in expressing the design which is contained within its specific proportions of the block. It is at this stage where it is my responsibility, as Michelangelo once stated, "to release the sculpture which has been hidden within the stone." Every stone contains a sculpture. It is the sculptor's responsibility to release it.
Drawing Studio in Pietrasanta
Using the maquette and with continued examination of the stone, I proceed to develop a series of exploratory drawings in search of this final design. Each drawing references the form of the stone block from varying perspectives. These drawings are an inventive design process of consolidating and coordinating spatial forms and contours from one plane or side to another. Usually the context for the development of these forms is derived from referencing the human figure. This design process of merging the natural characteristics of the stone with the design esthetics of line, contour, shape and texture in combination with the context of the human figure is the heart of the investigation for the form of the marble sculpture.
Bronze, like marble carving, has an ancient and honored tradition. Bronze casting originated between 4,000-3000 BC. Today as with its historic beginning, the artist fashions his form by making a wax prototype. This wax will then be encased with a clay, plaster or contemporary ceramic refactory coating. This coating, called an investment, is a type of mold which will be heated in a furnace and then the wax sculpture form will be melted away called "cire perdue" or "lost wax process." Molten bronze is then poured into the investment mold and replaces the area formerly occupied by the wax. Once the bronze has cooled, the investment is removed and the bronze form is chased (filed, ground, sanded, and then treated with heat and chemicals to develop the final color or patina of the sculpture.
My approach to designing and developing my bronze sculpture responds to two methods.
Direct wax. This technique is the most spontaneous. Molten wax is poured into thin flexible sheets or softened wax chunks. Then the wax can be formed by flexing the sheets or sculpting the chunks into designs or figurative forms. This direct wax method often begins with no preconceived plan but quickly becomes an inventive response incorporating design esthetics.
Indirect wax. This approach usually is the result of developing preliminary graphite, charcoal or pen and ink drawings. The refined drawing is then sculpted into a clay prototype from which a plaster, rubber or synthetic mold is made. Molten wax is then either poured or brushed into the mold. When cooled the wax is then coated in investment, melted out and cast in bronze. Additionally, I will make flexible molds from selected marble sculptures and cast limited edition bronze variations from the marble original.