The (art) show must go on

Sculpture install

…and it is, until next June. Town of Cary staff, CVA volunteers and Paris Alexander (center in the green fishing hat) labor in the hot sun on the Cary Town Hall Campus to place a marble base on a concrete pad in preparation for the installation of Paris Alexander’s limestone sculpture called “Jacob’s Ladder” in the Cary Sculpture Show.  Paris is my stone carving teacher.

On the right is “Jacob’s Ladder” among the clouds."Jacob's Ladder" by Paris Alexander. Photo by Kim Marchesseault

Little black number

"Night Lotus" by Dale McEntire -photo by Kim Marchesseault 

“Night Lotus”, an intimately scaled, meditative, black steatite stone carving by Dale L. McEntire, invites us to ponder its flowing curves among angles; its rough, organic, earthiness against silky-smooth, refined surfaces; and lightening strikes of blinding white on midnight black.

Dale McEntire, Sculptor of “Night Lotus” says, “The sculpture ”Night Lotus “ is inspired by the concept of life and beauty evolving from the below the surface and enfolding into visible form. This is a metaphor that appears in ancient text in many cultures. The stone was quarried in Virginia and the opportunity to use natural surfaces incorporated with carved and polished surfaces is a major element in this work. My goal with sculpture is create positive images that are inspiring and uplifting.” 

I was thinking about carving a commissioned sculpture from this type of stone because the natural white streaks in it would be key to the work.   My stone carving teacher, Paris Alexander, said he has tons of it lying around. I looked at him and laughed. Anyone else who says they have tons of something lying around, you know it’s an exaggeration, but when a stone carver says they have tons of something lying around, they literally have tons.

ECU professor, Hanna Jubran, strolled by laughing and joking like he does while Dale was installing this piece in the Cary Sculpture Exhibition.  Dale had been a student of Hanna’s. They began discussing the difficulties with carving this type of stone. It’s beautiDale McEntire applies mineral oil to sculpture, ful, but Hanna said it was a health risk because basically it was like carving into talc. Breathing airborne talc particles would be similar to breathing in asbestos. Dale said he loved the way the stone carved and the way it looked but he had to wear a full face respirator while working this stone. Of course there’s no danger once you finish carving.

Before installation, Dale had the sculpture sitting on its side and you could see he had drilled a hole into the bottom of the stone and inserted a thread he could screw right onto the base. So clever.

On the left you can see Dale McEntire applying mineral oil to his sculpture as the finishing touch.

A rock and a hard face

stone carving by Kim Marchesseault I worked some on the hair, the face and began shaping the hand of this lady in limestone. 

I’m working at home now. An area of my deck has a roof over it and a work bench strong enough to hold this rock. My tools are three chisels and a hammer.

When I stop being brutally critical of myself-  stone carving by Kim Marchesseault 21934just relax and the work flows. Click to enlarge.


This is part six of the series on this stone carving.

Part 5: Digging deeper

Part 4: Little bit older and a lot less boulder

Part 3: Fo shizzel my chizzel

Part 2: The cure for stonliness is a friend with a chisel

Part 1: Turned to stone

Digging deeper

stone carving day 4 Kim Marchesseault 

At the point this photo was taken, I was told not to carve further on the hair or fabric around the face, and not to carve the hand yet so the face began to shrink a bit and become enclosed by the stone. I had a hard time reaching the places I needed to work on. I know the idea was to preserve options for future. It’s hard for me to work on areas someone else tells me to, or to ignore parts of a whole piece.  I like to flit around from part to part and let the whole thing take shape.

I’ve been told this face is ugly, that it looks like a man, that it must be an Asian woman. Someone, trying to help me out, took a chisel and removed her left cheek bone prior to this picture because they disagreed about the structure of this face. I was really upset afterward and I had to carve deeper to get the cheek partially restored.  Now the nose looks crooked and adjustments need to be made.  I am doing my best to use these comments, experiences and the guidance to benefit the quality of my work overall. I guess it’s good to run into many obstacles to learn better how to deal with them.

I love working with a hammer and chisel. I love the feel of the tools in my hands. I hope I wind up with something that looks human in the end.


This is part five of the series on this stone carving.

Part 4: Little bit older and a lot less boulder

Part 3: Fo shizzel my chizzel

Part 2: The cure for stonliness is a friend with a chisel

Part 1: Turned to stone

Little bit older and a lot less boulder

Stone carving by Kim Marchesseault 

Here is more progress on the stone carving I’m doing in Paris Alexander’s workshop. I’m using mostly the tooth chisel to figure out the planes of the face. I want to go much deeper on the far side. I’ve not even started shaping the hand. Lots of work ahead!

This is part four of the series on this stone carving.

Part 3:  Fo shizzel my chizzel

Part 2: The cure for stonliness is a friend with a chisel

Part 1: Turned to stone

Fo Shizzel My Chizzel


stone carving_0101 

Second day carving this stone and I am having a blast. My teacher, Paris Alexander,taught me to use a point chisel to clear out more stone and to do some shaping with a tooth chisel. I was supposed to round out the tip of the nose (/me points to the square flat thing which is not rounded in the middle of the face) but I was bad and got distracted playing around with the rest of the face. He really has his work cut out for him, being stuck with me as a student. I can hardly wait till next week.

Part 1:  Turned to Stone -preliminary sketch for this sculpture

Part 2: The Cure for Stonliness is a Friend with a Chisel – image transfer and initial carving

The cure for stonliness is a friend with a chisel


The post Turned to stone contains an image of the preliminary sketch for this carving. stonecarving_20105We used a hammer and chisel to roughly outline the major parts of our design in limestone. I jumped the gun by chiseling around the mouth, nose and eyes a bit, but hopefully I didn’t do any serious harm.  The next step will be removing lots of stone from the low areas in the design. After the high and low areas are roughed in, we get to start really shaping and refining things.

The high parts of this carving will be the hand, the tip of the nose, the *picture* right cheek/brow and the hair on the top right portion of the image, which is X’ed out so it will not be touched till later. Underneath the ear area will be one of the deeper parts of the carving so lots of stone will be removed there. The hair/fabric I have just roughed in so that I can fine tune the design in stone as I work.

It’s nice that we do not have to wear a respirator while carving limestone. A respirator is required for granite and marble.

I’m excited about trying out stone carving with Paris Alexander here in the Raleigh area. He’s great at patiently showing us how to use and hold the tools for good results. Without this, I would probably abandon stone. I woke up last night holding an imaginary chisel in my left hand just the way Paris taught me.

I still have high hopes for something that looks human when I’m done. I have a lot of stone left to remove and I can hardly wait till Saturday rolls around again.