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For Kiwi John- current stone sculpture project

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  • #46
    looks amazing, thank you for showing your work it says a lot about your character, which is nice to see
    thanks neil

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    • #47
      Thanks again for the good words, everybody. Good stones are hard to comprehend, especially the ones that I look back on at a later date and still find them enthralling. I know I was there when it happened, but can only take credit for not screwing them up. It's a gift from God and I do this because I have this gift so I must use it. Faith plays a huge role in why this is the life I live. Keeping a traditional craft alive is the other big part of it. Seeing this entire lifestyle and craft disappearing is really tough. I grew up dairy farming & watched that way of life diminish. Now granite craft is doing the same thing. Not cool.

      Never imagined I would be doing this for a living. I really never imagined I would find a wife who would tolerate this lifestyle. Without her and her willingness to be happy without, this wouldn't be possible.

      Aug 2020 will be 20 years of being a full-time sculptor. Right now I'm shooting for being one of those 20-year-overnight-success stories. We'll see what happens. Thanks for letting me share this while I could.

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      • #48
        Nice work Cliff, thanks for showing us.
        regards
        steve

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        • #49
          Fantastic work Cliffy!

          Scares the crap out of me just thinking what could go wrong!

          Cheers Charlie

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Chazza View Post
            Fantastic work Cliffy!

            Scares the crap out of me just thinking what could go wrong!

            Cheers Charlie
            Thanks, guys.

            I can usually manage the stone part, even when I'm carving a thinner portion that just rings like a bell the whole time you're hitting it. You just keep waiting for the sound to change from a a clear ring to a dull thunk when the stone cracks... Never done it but have heard happen to others do it working near me. Not cool. Listening nonstop for the ring to keep happening for hours, days or even weeks is really stressful.

            the scariest part is working for weeks or months on a stone and then waiting for the customer to approve it. If they don't accept the job, I don't get paid but can still be on the hook to deliver the job as priced/quoted. Gotta be very careful about what you quote, who you quote it for and how you quote it.

            Some unhappy customers have legitimate issues, others are just impossible. I've never had a job refused yet, but have re-cut quite a few that other sculptors carved but were refused. We serviced a lot of those recut projects during my apprenticeship. Usually they went with a cheaper option,,then came to us when our higher price (and accompanying higher quality) now seemed more valid. The boss gave a lot of them to me & said if my work on them wasn't accepted, I was all done. Some recuts had lots of tangent legal issues, lawyers from multiple sides, threats, etc.

            A few years ago, I returned a nearly five$$figure deposit to a know-it-all dealer before I started work. he kept changing the details and it became clear he could not be satisfied. Two other sculptors ended up working on the job and he refused the three stones they carved. One told me I was smart to send him packing. It was good to hear because sending back a big deposit on an even bigger paycheck wasn't fun. Good thing my wife is willing to live poor indefinitely when things like that happen in this business. Doesn't make for a very extravagant lifestyle

            Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done. My sculptor taught me to be careful what you quote because you might get it. Definitely good words to live by.

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            • #51
              Originally posted by cliffrod View Post
              Carving indefinite things like water, fire, smoke or clouds and hair are always a bugger. Hard to make things spontaneous on purpose and any overt definition usually spoils these details.

              Some carve hair with deliberately incised lines (chisel, sandblast or die grinder) and imho the head of hair ends up looking like a string mop. I was trained to axe the hair.

              Hand axing (or simply axing) is using a chisel to smooth the surface of granite and is somewhat analogous to planishing. Hand axing is the old way. Very laborious but it produces fine straight lines all over the surface. These are generally imperceptible to a causal viewer but become obvious when a light source is moved or manipulated. Usually lots of methodical cross hatching is done first to smooth the contours, with the final orientation of chisel cuts made to handle light as desired- perpendicular to light create shadow & roughness, parallel to light to demonstrate flow or movement or fully cross hatched to minimize any shadow or definition.

              To do hair, the final lines are oriented as the hair will flow. Some contouring work including cocave & convex shape development is done first. Then much of that is axed away to soften the shape, with final lines oriented as the hair would flow. Hard obvious detail blatantly suggests movement of hair. Although they're largely invisible to the naked eye, Fine lines then direct light as hair would naturally move. Customers unfamiliar with the process will complain that a head of hair looks bald & smooth in pics. But when it is seen in person, they're amazed that you can see every single hair.
              this isn't my first rodeo...

              Like stated above (actually corrected- man, I hate autocorrect...), an email came this morning with concerns that the hair didn't have enough detail and specifically not as much detail as the clay. So I explained again and sent more pics, better camera and bigger files. Maybe they'll be good enough to see detail here as well. If they approve, it will ship like it is. If not, I'll carve more detail until they're happy or it looks like a string mop....

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              One time when I was an apprentice, I carved a Pieta (Mary kneeling with the corpus of Christ on ground, not Michelangelo composition) just like the approved fullsize drawing. My sculptor hates carving a Pieta so he would let me do the whole thing. Got finsihed and my cousin says "Omigod- you're not gonna leave it like that?!? Jesus has got two left feet!" Sure enough, the legs were crossed and Charlie had drawn Christ with two left feet.... (parallel toes, not opposite order) and I had just blindly carved it because that's what the customer had approved. Well, he said no way and changed the feet/toes as needed. No matter, after that, anytime there was a question or issue, he would (and still does) ask me "how many left feet does Jesus have?"

              Hopefully this will all resolve soon. Until then, more hurry up and wait....
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              • #52
                While waiting for a response from the patron, I did get some unexpected pr yesterday.About 18 months ago, while promoting our annual Antique Bikes on Main motorcycle rally ( video here that we did in 2014- https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PPk1lqQQ1gk ) one outlet called to add us to their calendar. After that, they asked about me and said they would like to do a one page feature about me & my work. Basically a single large photo with a brief text overview. The magazine sent a professional photographer named Milton Morris, who took most of the day to treat like I was something special. Just did or didn't do what he said and all went well. I've worked with pros in the past, but never as the subject.

                Article was great. Photos were great. Great guy and real professional, no pt like some of the big attitude ones I had encountered in the past. Very cool.

                a couple of months ago, Milton called. He was quite pleased with the photographs he took of me and wanted to use at least one to feature in his portfolio & pending ad campaign. Again, very cool. I've had lots of coverage over the years, but never like this. Check out his website to see what I mean. He sent out this pic in an email blast yesterday-


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                https://www.miltonmorris.com

                then I showed it to my mother. She says '"why didn't you smile? Would've looked a lot bette if you had smiled...." Thanks, mom.
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                • #53
                  Originally posted by cliffrod View Post

                  ...then I showed it to my mother. She says '"why didn't you smile? Would've looked a lot bette if you had smiled...." Thanks, mom.
                  At least she didn't ask you what you wanted for dinner. That was a common response from my Mum, after a triumph in the workshop.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Chazza View Post

                    At least she didn't ask you what you wanted for dinner. That was a common response from my Mum, after a triumph in the workshop.
                    After all my years as a chef, seems like the only time anyone cooks for me anymore is when we're doing an extended visit at their house. Ma hasn't cooked for me for a year or two. We're taking care of her and her 90 yr old brother, who now live together next door so we can keep them out of the nursing home. They're both challenging, but in different ways.

                    Makes me very thankful that my wife is so understanding and supportive. My other wives probably wouldn't have put up with this stuff.

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                    • #55
                      After a request yesterday afternoon to add more lines to the hair, I added the fewest and most shallow ones I could to help keep the job from looking like an amateur's work or a chinese job. Today the job was approved. Very cool.

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                      Now I'll wash the stone before it ships. Usually i will use a solvent (citrus based is what I prefer) to help loosen and soften any adhesives and emulsify any present oils. Then I'll use some dish detergent to clean off all of the solvent and emulsified materials. Sometimes this takes 2-3 rounds. Any oils can stain the stone. After the stone is very clean, I'll clean it again with a stone acid that we use to make sure nothing remains on the stone. Granite is very resilient to chemical action. But if I have rubbed a steel chisel shank against the stone while carving, any steel left on/in the stone will rust and permanently stain the stone. Let it dry, wrap in plastic to keep it clean, put it back in the crate, band it and get paid.

                      When a new granite memorial is first installed, especially one with a tooled or sandblasted surface, it's very "hot" in terms of value/color/brightness in comparison to other nearby work. It takes a while for it to get dirty and calm down. That dirt is part of the issue about the extra detail added to the hair. When it gets dirty, these extra lines will be too much detail and look fake. The proper and simple axed lines that I did first would have been easily visible once the stone aged a little. It's very hard to explain this to non-professionals. Some trust me and they get the best results. Others simply want it their way because they know better than me. It's always a bummer to have to do the wrong things on purpose...

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                      In case anyone is wondering- for this project, I removed approx enough granite to fill less tha than two 5 gallon buckets. Some jobs make a big pile of scrap. Others don't. Often times, the less stone removed the more risky a job can be to produce because there's so little room for error.

                      Hopefully more work will be here soon. So far, I've never finished a stone without more work sold. It looked pretty bleak this time until I unexpectedly fielded & sold that small daffodil job (previously mentioned) last week. Then I've quoted two more jobs since then. Both are plain jobs so priced very competitively. Another project is back in the loop that has been under discussion and deposit for more than a decade. Young child memorials like that can be really difficult for family to address, so I just have to be patient. This one is on track to be my longest project and beat the previous 11 yr record. Maybe it will finally get done this winter. Last time they called was 18 months ago. Before that, it was a five-year gap after giving me a deposit a few years before that.

                      thanks again for the interest and support. A 35mm knockout punch and NOS nuts and bolts arrived for my Guzzi headlight ears yesterday and the day before while I was waiting for approval from the patron. Maybe now I can do and post more about metalwork than stone...
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