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Doratti Sculpture Studios Cuts Two Gargoyles

Pat Doratti has his stone studio in Nelson, British Columbia a small arts city in the Rocky Mountains above Spokane Washington. The Cutting Begins - Patrick Doratti Sculpture Studios

One of the interesting things he has there is a six axis robotic stone milling machine. Carl Nelson has worked with Patrick and this wonderful tool to create computer generated voids in some of his Dunite sculptures. 
Well Along with the Work
This article describes a commission Patrick has been working on. The client lives in a medieval style stone house near Calgary, Alberta. The job was to cut twin four foot high gargoyles from a five ton block of Carrara grey Bardiglio marble. No problem for Patrick and his magic cutter.

Patrick started by splitting the marble block into two equal pieces with wedges and feathers and a ring saw. He then scanned a plaster model with his in-house 3-D laser scanner, cleaning up the scan with his CAD software. The finished scan was then put into his CAM software which details the milling instructions for the robotic cutter.

Another view of the Robot at Work
After the bottom of each stone was leveled with the robot, a large cutting head was used to remove the blocky, excess stone. 
Then the intermediate milling was done to clean out the undercuts and hollows. The third pass was for the fine, detail work done in a zig zag pattern to finish the piece. The milling for each Gargoyle took about five days.

Since the client wanted a pitted, old bronze look, the finished stone was sandblasted, then sanded with 400 and 800 grit, but leaving some rough spots. Making the Stone Look Ancient

The required aging process uses a mix of black ash, oil, grease and a few other things. It was then wiped-down with a hand pad to achieve a matt finish with a very old weathered look. This takes some time, so it’s the gargoyles are still sitting in Pat’s shop being finished.

As you can imagine, technology comes with price tag. The shop rate is $100/hour but can be a big savings in time for large projects and also allows the artist to do small multiples like you would with the bronze process. Patrick is open to working with the artist’s budget.

You can reach Patrick Doratti through his email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carving Complete on the Gargoyle Pair

The Sculptor's Funeral

sculptorsfuneralWelcome to the podcast!

The Sculptor's Funeral is the podcast dedicated to strengthening the ties between today's figurative sculptors and the sculptors of ages past. Art history, interviews, discussions on techniques and practices, tools and materials, and more, hosted by Jason Arkles, a practicing sculptor living and working in Florence, Italy.

Hooked on Basalt

By Bruce Richardson
Bruce working on "River Otter" 42"x12"x12", columnar basalt

Back in the last century I started carving soapstone with my pocket knife when you could find all you wanted along the Skagit River up above the small community of Marblemount. My first big “Aha” moment came when I finished sanding and rubbed my little frog with linseed oil! Where did all those colors come from?

At Camp Brotherhood for my first time three years ago, I took the plunge and with the help of Ruth Mueseler and Tamara Buchanan, learned about working granite with diamond tools and angle grinders. Although the actual carving process took a lot longer, that same excitement was there as polishing revealed unsuspected depth and patterns in the stone. That granite whippoorwill was only 12” long, but she convinced me hard rock was music I was destined to dance to.
“Pika”, 18” long X 12” high X 12” wide
Next summer when some barely manageable-sized pieces of columnar basalt showed up at the auction, I bit. How could I resist after seeing what Tom Small and others were doing with basalt and how they transformed it into black glass. A dull six sided grey column does not exactly generate a lot of instant ideas in one’s mind from its looks. Being a realistic sculptor who likes to carve animals I tried to imagine the most flowing and plastic creatures lurking inside with bodies that could be manipulated to minimize the amount of rock to be removed. In the end my artistic muse saw a river otter, so I started to fret my way into unknown territory. After three days of chips and dust clouds a number of wandering spectators asked if I was carving a slug.

“Porcupine”, 30” long X 12” high X 12”wideWith basalt the learning curve is steep. How much detail is realistically achievable? Curves need to be polishable. Small projections aren’t a good idea. And then there was always that pushy muse in the background repeating, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Camp B, year three, otter and me. After four long days in my bathing suit wet polishing I got my reward; a slippery, glistening, curvy otter, just out of the river wondering where she came from? That first assault on basalt got me hooked for life. (And should keep me fit for life ….)

“River Otter”, 42” long X 12” high X 12” wide, columnar basalt As I waited for the ferry back to Lopez Island on my way home that year, filled with wild excess energy from seven days with seventy other stoned fanatics gathered on “Planet Granite,” I noticed the black long necked cormorants drying themselves on the dock pilings. Wet, black, shiny and plastic! There had to be a way to find one in that other basalt column in the back of my truck that didn’t have a foot long neck and a narrow beak waiting to be snapped off by an unplanned encounter with a vacuum cleaner. Like otters, they are amazing contortionists and before long one showoff twisted his neck around to preen the back of his wing and I was a witness. The deal was sealed and the rest history …. and chips and dust and pools of water.“Cormorant”, 28” high X 12” wide, columnar basalt

Two otters, a cormorant and a porcupine later as I pondered a scarred and broken chunk of the other “black gold,” a high mountain pika let out its characteristic warning cry. Yes, they are rabbit relatives, but with short mouse-like ears, no tail, no skinny legs, but fat bodies …. hmm. I scratched my head. She scratched hers. I gave in. She posed for her portrait and the writing was on the wall, or chips were in the scrap bucket, as the case may be.

Come to camp next summer for chapter six, “Marmot Meets Maniac,” and maybe chapter seven, “Squirreled Away for a Million Years.”

Something of a Shearing

By Cyra Jane Hobson
Cyra Jane's Studio
In late 2013, I found myself lost. I was carving outside a metal sculptor’s studio in downtown Seattle, but it wasn't mine and I knew it was time to start searching for my own workspace. I had a place to live in a building downtown, but I had never wanted to be there and while I didn't want to stay, I also dislike change and find it very hard to tear away from security. On a work front, my paying jobs were mostly about how much stress one person could hold, and I was putting every last bit of energy left into a large burning man collaboration with an awesome, but too small, crew. And the very last bit of my innocence was being destroyed in a bare-threaded and desperate relationship on its last strands. This all culminated in a serious breakdown in August. I went underwater, my light extinguished. And so, in September, I began moving.

And so I carved the foundation of the lighthouse, quit all my jobs, and began ripping myself off the ground to start wandering in search of home. I was hurt, I was stressed, and blindly determined.

With legs of stone, especially so unformed, I moved very slowly. I was invited to help set up a bronze foundry on Vashon Island and began commuting from my apartment in Pioneer Square, Seattle. I left the downtown studio. I started carving outside the Quonset hut destined to be the foundry. I worked a little on the lighthouse. I tried risky job propositions, each a lifting of feet. I joined NWSSA and began attending stone carving symposiums, and the light started to shine again, just a little. I began to carve the structural details

At the Silver Falls symposium that summer, I spent five days straight shaping the lighthouse itself (it's a separate piece from the base). I lost myself in the rhythm of filing down the body and rebuilding this form anew among new friends. I liked the focus I found in that group, and the ease of character. They felt like what home could be.

In late 2014, I started a business that allowed me to rent my own studio space at the same complex of abandoned greenhouses turned artists’ studios where the foundry will be. The business promptly failed, but I had that studio and I loved that studio. And I kept that studio. I started the detail carving of the lighthouse face. Slowly that year, plans began to come into focus. Progress was slow, as I was stretching thin, still tethered to that old apartment and unable to break away entirely.

The stone carving almost finished2015 found me wading in the river. I finally pushed off the foundation, relinquished the apartment and went peripatetic. Homeless. The day I found out that was to happen, the day after returning to my studio from Camp B, Rubble was cast as the foundation broke off entirely. A fit of ink projected the lighthouse onto a studio wall.

Splashing forward, I crashed on couches in a constant state of discomfort with the unknown, traveled to Arizona to work with a lapidary crew and there tackled the toes and the meaning of mobility. There, in the depths of isolation and in, by all accounts, terrible circumstances, I missed home, dreadfully. Not just my studio but my communities.

I came back to my studio for just a few days before a next journey to Vancouver, BC to be the artist in residence at Studiostone, a carving studio with a vibrant community. Touching ground so briefly in my own space was powerful and I did not want to leave, and I had to leave again, so soon! In B.C. I was homesick. Not that my experience there wasn't wonderful, it was. And in many ways, I was at home among other stone artists. But my own lens had finally focused, and though I had a whole studio full of stone and tools to play with, I worked diligently instead on the lighthouse carving its lens, sanding and painting, brazing the river, assembling the pieces, making plans, yearning for Seattle and for the island and the chance to pull in my feet and let down the walls. This was the seventh workspace I and the lighthouse had worked in together and by the end of March, all that I could do outside my own studio was done. All that was left to make was a wooden oval base and to have the light turned on.

At last, the lighthouse painted with bronze river and wooden baseI wanted to have the base before returning to Vashon, so I detoured for a few days to visit a friend on another island with a studio surrounded in forest. I took the lighthouse out into this eighth workspace to cut and laminate a solid base of old, repurposed mahogany. By now I was savoring the last drops of my homesickness. I still had no plan and no specific place to lay my head, but that didn't matter so much. One foot, a few toes, were still in the river, and the rest of me had pulled up onto a new land.

And so the return to the island and the finishing work. Lots of little details and readjustments that fell into place swiftly. A shearing of reality as the chronicled character of the monomyth became someone else, an entity unto itself and no longer an aspect of my internal visualscape. And now he ambles over there, quite alive. His path remembered in a wash of golden light. His lens bright with intent and determination. He delights me. I never thought he would exist; I never thought the feeling of home would again either.

I did not necessarily intend for the sculpture to be so literal, and there is a lot of backstory about the quest for home that began far longer ago than this particular lens. But that is how it works and I'm grateful to have been awake for this part of the journey.

Something of a Shearing first appeared on April 28, 2016 in Cyra Jane’s Blog: The Spaces in Between 

Fat Phobia

Venus in Two Views for the Fat Phobia Gallery Show
By Jonna Ramey (All photos by Jonna Ramey)

The Venus of Willendorf is an iconic Paleolithic image of woman. To anyone familiar with the female body, this small sculpture is not a fertility goddess per se, she is young and she is fat. Gloriously, unabashedly fat. Roughly 4.5” tall, she was carved from oolitic limestone 28,000 to 25,000 years BCE.
Clay Maquette

As a feminist, this figurine has spoken to me for decades. She is a primal, strong, personal image of women—fat women. As a direct stone sculptor, I have both yearned for and shied away from the possibility of making my own Paleolithic figurines. Recently, for the exhibition Fat Phobia shown at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, I carved two stone Venus figurines, but on a larger scale. My works are each approximately two feet high, carved in African or Utahan stone. One piece is my fairly literal take on the Venus of Willendorf, the second is a more abstract portrait. Together, they frame a conversation on body image and celebrate large women’s bodies from earliest humans to our present society.

‘Venus at Middle Age’ reflects on the Willendorf figure, envisioning her as a woman a few decades older. Older, wiser, still strong and vibrant. Of the two sculptures, I carved her first, using a piece of Zimbabwean opalstone.

I started the process by studying all the images I could find of the original Willendorf figurine online. The figurine has been photographed in many angles through the years and the source material was rich. Studying these images, I came to some personal conclusions and observations. First, the original sculptor loved his subject. Yes, I think the Venus of Willendorf was carved by a man and he was smitten. He loved her breasts, her vulva, her fat, her youth. But he posed her with her face cast down or hidden, and he rendered her arms as a late afterthought. To survive 28,000 years ago, a woman needed strong arms and she needed to look directly at the world. My sculpture, I decided, would show her in a different light.

Sketching on paper, I found I was creating an older, more mature woman. Her breasts would have fallen with age, and her arms would hold them up to relieve pressure on her back. She would look out at us, but like the original, her face is not detailed, making her everywoman. Her hair thinned with age, her hairline receding. While I roughed in a shape (a cocoon really) in the stone, I also worked on a small Sculpey maquette. Clearly, my sculpture was not going to be a replica of the figurine. I worked the stone entirely with hand tools in some quirky homage to the maker of the original. She was hand-sanded to 2000 grit and finished with Butcher’s wax. The piece took about 120 hours to complete.

‘V Kicks Up Her Heels’ imagines the woman who may have inspired the original Venus figurine in a playful manner. From the beginning, I knew she would be sculpted with Utah onyx (honeycomb calcite) to provide a strong counterpoint to the opaque blue-green opalstone. Honeycomb calcite’s translucency and vibrant color dictated that the sculpture could not incorporate subtle or fine detailing. It would have to be created with bolder gesturing. Where ‘Venus at Middle Age’ had a solid, composed dignity to her, ‘V…’ was always an active, dancing figure in my mind. A quickly composed maquette led me in a direction, but the stone had other ideas and I was willing to compromise. Instead of both arms flung out akimbo, one was raised and the other just dropped by her side. One leg is planted on the ground, though we only see the thigh, and the other leg is kicked back. Honeycomb calcite does not take hammer and chisel well. This piece was created using angle and die grinders. Finishing included diamond pad hand-sanding followed by buffing out with Italian Craftsman Polish. This piece took half the time of the other to produce.

The exhibition Fat Phobia was the brainchild of artist Carol Berrey and was curated by her and Sheryl Gillian, Executive Director of Art Access. Fat Phobia has been a great success. The opening drew 400 people. The audience was receptive to all the work shown, discussing the pieces, asking each other questions, commenting. Connected to the exhibit has been a series of talks and workshops ranging from author Jasmin Singer speaking on ‘Body Positivity’ to a writers’ workshop and subsequent poetry reading in the gallery. All events were well-attended. High school and college art students have paraded through the exhibit to look at the art, complete onsite assignments and then talk about body image and art. And, the artists have met each other, spoken about what they do and the content of their work.

Jonna Ramey with Venus (middle aged)For an in depth critique of the show, go to Scotti Hill’s article in 15 Bytes e-magazine.

For me personally, these two pieces have pushed my work into new realms. Exploring a playful, active form has kindled an interest in making more active figures in stone. The physical sculpting has for some reason made me more fearless when approaching a stone. And as a Euro-American woman, it’s been empowering to artistically embrace my paleo roots. How this all plays out in my sculpture… we’ll see. But, it’s given my work a fresh perspective and verve that is personally appreciated.

I sculpt stone. It gets me up in the morning. Every day. My work is often abstract, sometimes figurative but rarely literal. Making sculpture is a way for me to examine thoughts, emotions, cultural concerns, myths and taboos. I live and work in Salt Lake City, Utah.