By Michael Gardner
Editors’ note: While it may be true that Michael is a beginner at stone carving, he is no fledgling in the art world. Michael routinely adorns human skin with amazing creatures of his own design at the Tattoo Garden on 2nd street in Everett, Washington.
The sculpture "Midnight kill" has waited a long time to be done. I've been carrying around the stone for fifteen years, since college actually. I believe I was told that it was soapstone when I first acquired it, but if it is soapstone, it doesn't act like it. This is actually the first sculpture that I've done since my college years. I finally had the time to tackle it in the summer of 2008 and with a small kit of soft stone tools and a lot of sandpaper I went to work.
I had always envisioned the sculpture to be more abstract, like just the dorsal fin of some sea creature but when I actually put the stone on the bench, I just couldn't find it again. My normal start to any sculpture is just to find a main curve or direction in the stone and start removing material to reinforce it. That's one reason that I do a lot of my initial removal by hand, because it gives me time to continually look at the shape that's developing.
Eventually, I got enough of a rough shape that I needed to step back and really figure out what it was. I think that in this instance, my lack of any outside influence (or real experience for that matter) worked to my advantage. Since I wanted a flush, dynamic fit to the base I decided to do a plaster cast of the bottom of the sculpture and then carve the resulting block of plaster into the shape that I wanted. I then painted and sealed the base. It's certainly not a perfect piece but it was a wonderful learning experience. I hope that you all enjoy it.
Michael T. Gardner