Hey guys, thanks for checking out my video on the making of Aslan. If you like what you see here and want to find out more about this work, here are some actions I would love for you to take:
It's Moving Day! How do you move a 50,000 pound sculpture? One piece at a time... and with a call to Sterrett Crane Company, a flat bed, and permit to block a city street for a couple hours.
After arriving at the Memorial Presbyterian Church, we are ready to start the installation process. Along with the task of unloading the pieces, another big step is assembling the massive pieces with the help of some stainless steel connecting rods. Stay tuned for highlights from the dedication photos, videos and more!
As you can imagine, stone is an expensive material. When progress is measured by how much is removed, an artist gets resourceful in letting nothing go to waste. In fact, this lion sculpture can probably be considered “zero waste.” The blocks, when they were delivered weighed a total of ~50,000 lbs. The lion, including the tail, when installed, weighed a total of ~50,000 lbs. How can that be?
Well, the paws and forelegs shown here were sculpted from the first major block that I quarried off above the lion’s ribs. The tail, which is a mighty big tail as well as an impressive seating wall and garden border, was cut in sections from the offal of the original blocks. I also ended up using offal from a previous monumental project, thus justifying the ridiculous amount I spend on storage. Maybe.
What about all the small pieces and scraps from slashing and burning? How about all the sand and slurry from chainsaw cutting and bush hammering? Those get shoveled up by the bucketful land spread in the yard to fill low spots and create a solid base for an eventual paving of the Schoolhouse side yard. The medium to large remnants from all my projects end up on pallets waiting to be picked out by artists and patrons who might want a cool rock to place in their garden, or polish to put in the gallery. In fact, how cool would it be to own a piece that came off of this lion?
The “remnant series” is a super cool way to own a piece of history as well as reflect that no part of God’s creation is extraneous or without value
After blocking out the form with a stone-cutting chainsaw, a grinder with diamond blade is used to “slash and burn” the hard geometric form into smaller planes and contours. From there, hammer and chisel are used to break away the cuts and a bush chisel is used to begin shaping the form. As the details get smaller and more precise, so do the tools used.
This is the stage of stone carving I enjoy the most. I have ‘slashed and burned’ the mass of stone down to the skin. I know that I am close to touching my final surface in some places. This is when I begin excavating like a paleontologist or archaeologist, trying to find those key lines or projections or landmarks where the sculpture has broken through the surface to give me a clue as to where the rest might be hiding. Once I uncover those landmarks or key lines, the rest of the sculpture is easily imagined buried beneath the remaining layers of stone. At this stage I use the air hammer with a bush chisel to seek out those lines.
After positioning the headstone in place on the body, the first cuts are made. The nose and mane are outlined and facial features are marked out. Large pieces like this are kept under a tent so work may be done out in the courtyard, rain or shine.
The process begins with research, sketches, and clay sculptures. This study practice helps to keep perspective and allows the artist to plan for both the big-picture and fine details.
In 2019, the Studio of Abraham Mohler received a commission for a number of sculptures for a new children's garden at Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. The installation and dedication was in October 2020, over a year later. Over the next several posts we will showcase the process leading up to the finished product that will now be appreciated for hundreds of years. Here is the BEFORE photo.
The frog and toad are finished! Check out these final photos, and make a trip to see them in person at the St Louis World's Fair Pavilion. The City of St. Louis Parks Division and Forest Park Forever have partnered to create the new World’s Fair Pavilion Comfort Station & Gathering Plaza, featuring a limestone frog and toad by The Studio of Abraham Mohler
You can see the frog and toad taking shape. From their original slabs, their heads, legs and bodies are now visible. The City of St. Louis Parks Division and Forest Park Forever have partnered to create the new World’s Fair Pavilion Comfort Station & Gathering Plaza, featuring a limestone frog and toad by The Studio of Abraham Mohler