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.
This special show features the work of several students and guest artists. It is an impressive show of the tremendous creativity and individual style that all fits under the same umbrella of representational figurative art in stone, bronze and wood. The show features the works of Abraham Mohler, John Siemers, Joel Miller, Jeff McKee, and Matt Schiermeier. It runs on Friday, May 27th from 6-9 PM. The studio is located at 1242 Gravois Ave. Saint Louis, MO 63104
A couple of years ago on a mountain retreat, I set out to sculpt a “portrait”ofmyson,exceptIdidn’thaveanyphotoswithme. Icarved from memory and ended up with this lovely piece, which wasn’t my son, but so what. This January, a friend visited me, trying to raise money for a young boy who was born without any arms or legs. My friend was searching about, trying to find creative ideas for a sculpture or artwork that could be auctioned off to raise money for this boy in hopes of getting him a specialty wheelchair, or something, anything to helpoutthisruralfamilyofverylittlemeans. Iaskedtoseeapictureof the boy and he pulled out his phone to show me a few snapshots. I handed him back the phone and told him I may already have the sculpture on display at OA Gallery. This Sunday we are going to auction it off at the benefit party for McKoy and his family. The party will feature live music by SuperJam, food and drinks, raffle prizes, auction items including Cardinals tickets and of course, this sculpture. It is being held at the Mile277 Club in Kirkwood this Sunday afternoon from 2-6 PM. The address is 10701 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63127. The title of this piece is, “What did you say?!” Take another look!