For the wine enthusiast who has everything…

Recently, I have been preoccupied with the design of my new major sculpture, one that I figure will take about a year to complete.  In doing so, I passed on submitting a piece to the last Northwest Museum of Art and Culture event, and was planning on bowing out of the Spokane Valley Art Council’s annual fundraiser this May as well, until I noticed my name listed on this years promotional poster. So I feel somewhat obligated to produce something, and that something will need to be a little less ambitious than usual since I need to submit a piece by month’s end.

Enter Wine cork #5. I’ve made a few of these for friends in the last year or so, and although they are small, they still require quite a bit of effort to produce. It’s not like a painter who can bang out a painting in an afternoon. This piece took me about 40 hours to create.

The marble is a little piece of Carrara Statuario.  I like to keep all the scrap pieces from larger projects for these kind of works. You may see me in a few years on an episode of Hoarders because, unlike leftovers from our normal slab processing, I can’t seem to part with any of the cubic remnants, particularly Carrara.

Carving stone in three dimensions is not easy, particularly for small and thin applications such as this.  The end result may look simple, but getting to that point requires a lot of patience and a delicate touch. With other sculpture mediums like bronze, the original is moulded from clay. The clay can be carved, bent, supplemented, removed and twisted to your heart’s content.  Then it’s sent to the foundry for casting into as many replications as the artist would like. Stone is a different animal altogether. You must see the shape within the block. Excess material can only be removed, and there’s no putting it back. You get only one shot to get it right, and of course being stone, you never know when you’ll expose a fissure or void that can ruin the piece. If all goes well, you are left with an original, one of a kind piece of art. For a reproduction, you must carve another whole sculpture.

This piece, like my other sculptures, is polished painstakingly by hand, and no, “polish” does not come in a can that you buff with a rag!  Polishing stone is a mechanical process using progressive levels of abrasives.  About three quarters of the time spent on this piece is from the sanding process, and for these small pieces, I wet sand them under magnification while backlit. This highlights the translucent qualities to reveal any imperfections in the finish.  A lot of work for just a wine cork!  Maybe this marble (from the quarries in northern Tuscany) will get to sit atop a bottle of wine from the same region. A nice bottle of Brunello or Chianti would loved to be reunited with their long lost relative.

If you would like to purchase this original art piece, please attend the SVAC artist showcase on May 30th. The proceeds help fund Jerry McKellar’s bronze sculpture, “Dance of Sun & Moon”, that has been donated to the city of Spokane Valley by the Spokane Valley Arts Council.

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