Carving grapevine on a limestone cross

Gargoyle

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Happy New Year! I hope this year finds everyone healthy, wealthy, and wise.

It's been quite a while since I've posted, but I'm working on a project that I thought some of you would find interesting. It's a 12' tall limestone cross (carved from 4 blocks of Indiana limestone) to stand in the center of a columbarium in a church courtyard. The overall design is that of a Celtic cross, but the 16 linear feet (5 linear meters) of 4" wide (10 cm) ornamentation running up and across is a late gothic style grapevine. It's taken from the existing wood carving on the altar, altar rail, and pulpits in the church sanctuary. The depth of relief is 7/16".
First Pres Dec 30 (3).jpg

First Pres progress Dec 19 (1).jpg
 
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Gargoyle

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Elgin, IL
I traced the drawing on the stone with carbon paper, and then I paint over the lines with diluted orange shellac; that keeps them from rubbing off while I'm carving, and also darkens them. grapevine initial 2 ig.jpg

grapevine initial 1 ig.jpg
 
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Gargoyle

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Here you can follow some of the steps. I first sink the background and work out the layering of the vines and tendrils. Then I round those off and texture them, and shape the grapes. I'm holding off on all the grape leaves; I'll go back and do all of those at the same time to keep them consistent. First pres progress steps.jpg
 
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Gargoyle

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I still have to figure out the center. I want to twist the four stems into a crown of thorns, (open in the center) but my initial drawings for that are awkward, not satisfying. If anyone wants to throw out their ideas, I'd love to see them. First pres cross Jan 1 21 (1) close.jpg
 
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Gargoyle

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This was an early stage on the leg, which stands below the cross section that I shared in the previous post.

If people are interested, I'll try to add updates; I'm also posting a lot more on Instagram and FB.
IG: @ig_sculptor
FB: Walter S. Arnold Sculptor

grapevine initial 3 ig.jpg
 

Gargoyle

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I see the vines approach symmetrically laterally but are kitty corner vertically. This will add an interesting tension to your final composition.. and avoids the easy solution
Vertically I wanted the continuity. Horizontally, I wanted to keep the grapes hanging from the vine, not sticking up against gravity.
 

papart1

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nice shop too!! Did you cast the cross to? How long was your apprencticeship please?
 

Gargoyle

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nice shop too!! Did you cast the cross to? How long was your apprencticeship please?
It's not cast. That's Indiana limestone, quarried near Bloomington, Indiana. In this case, I worked with a stone mill in Bloomington, had them cut all the geometric moldings and profiles. I've done my share of that sort of cutting, if I can get someone else to do it precisely, it saves me a lot of time and effort.

Apprenticeship? I'm still learning on every job I do.... it never ends...
 

monk

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absolute great looking work. may also serve as a tutorial. what sort of fastening system do you use to anchor the parts together ?
 

Gargoyle

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absolute great looking work. may also serve as a tutorial. what sort of fastening system do you use to anchor the parts together ?
For this one, I called in an engineer who has lots of specific stone installation experience. It's going outdoors, in an enclosed courtyard so it's sheltered from direct wind, but still exposed to the elements. A 1" stainless threaded rod 43" long will be epoxy embedded into the concrete foundation, through the base piece and up into the leg. Then stainless rod from the top of that leg into the central cross piece, and another from the top of that into the top piece. The stone joints themselves will be set with type S mortar.

The foundation, of reinforced concrete, extends 4' below the ground surface.

First pres Jan 4 am (1).jpg
 

monk

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tyvm for that answer. i've done a bit of stonework, including a few tombstones. but nothing on a scale like what you do. quite honestly, i'm too lazy to even think about something of that size.
 

Gargoyle

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First pres cross Jan 8 (1) ig.jpg More detailed explanation of the transfer process.

Transferring the design to stone.

Once I’ve prepared the final working drawing on paper, I make several photocopies. I tape one photocopy on the stone with carbon paper underneath. (you need "pen and pencil" carbon paper, not "typewriter" carbon paper to transfer the drawing to stone). I draw over the lines (you have to make a couple passes) with a ball point pen. You'll end up ruining the pen, so don't use a good one. I don't us a a stylus because it will tear the paper. I then dilute orange shellac with denatured alcohol, take a small brush, and paint over the lines. Otherwise they'll rub off while carving, you'll get the carbon all over your hands and the smeared design will be hard to follow. For the depth, I work down in stages, being careful to angle the chisel away from the thin parts that have to remain (the stems, leaves, etc) to not cause fractures and undercuts that will start under them and they will be subject to breaking off later.

Another method is to use spray adhesive or diluted white paste and glue the photocopy to the stone, then carve through the paper. However, this design was too intricate, with too many small details and with that method it would have been hard to keep track of everything going on with the interlaced forms.
Keep another photocopy close at hand to use as a reference to look at while carving.
 

thughes

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Nashville TN
Walter, do you know the name of the rock formation that is being quarried? it must be incredibly pure and free of things like shale partings and chert lenses.

Todd
 

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