Which Comes First, the Marble or the Car?
In some cases I start with a stone that has captivated a client (or myself), and that informs the car chosen. For instance Sodalite Royale from Bolivia is something of a holy grail for stone sculptors. Five artists from multiple continents came together to source this very blue stone. What to-die-for cars are in your mind best rendered in blue? A stone artist friend has created many beautiful abstract pieces in orange calcite. He was mounting an expedition to Utah to source more, and I invested in the venture imagining many amazing cars carved from this gorgeous orange stone.
More typically however, the car model is driving the creative process, and that informs the stone choice. When you think of Ferrari you think of blood red. When you think of Aston Martin you think of British Racing Green. Collectors have a dream car in mind, and -as a lover of cars myself- I am more than happy to oblige. Virtually any car can be sculpted, out of a myriad of stone.
Marble is the preferred stone for sculptors because of it is relatively soft and easy to work with when it is first quarried, but becomes extremely hard and durable with age. The low refractory index of calcite permits light to penetrate into the stone (as it does the human skin), resulting in a final product that is luminescent when brought to a highly polished shine.
Choosing a Stone
Marble comes in hundreds of named varieties in a rainbow of colours and patterns. If the client choses a stone, and I don’t have enough in my studio, then my supportive network of stone artists and artisan suppliers can often deliver.
With unlimited car model selection, and the planet’s stone palate to choose from, unending combinations of car and stone are possible. It is important to note that to ensure every sculpture is one-of-a-kind, I will not repeat a past combination.
Milling the Stone
The stone milling engineer is key to the next steps of the process. I’ve known Patrick for more than 20 years and we’ve milled together so often as to anticipate the pearls and pitfalls of each stone choice for automotive sculptures. The basic outline of the car is roughed in by a $250,000 computer controlled robot, in preparation for painstaking finishing and inlay work. The initial milling entails 15 – 30 hours of work.
Inlays and Sculpting
Here is where the vast majority of the time inputs occur. An inlay involves inserting smaller pieces of stone into the surface of a larger stone. Depending on the design, inlays occur either very early, or very late, in the process. Either way they are technically demanding and time intensive, but also critical to optimally depicting specific automobiles.
Finishing is the process of moving from the post-milling roughed-out shape to the completed sculpture. The dust, noise, sweat, and tears dampen in amplitude as one moves progressively through power tools, to hand files and rasps, to ever-increasing grits of pads, and sandpaper. When the final 3500 grit wet sanding is completed, then linseed oiling and multi-stage waxing occur to maximize the reflectivity of light.
A photo shoot of the recently christened work typically follows. Website and other promotion occurs next. If the planets are aligned (or the process has been a commission), careful packaging for delivery to a happy buyer is the next step.
Welcome to the Community
Finally, the buyer is welcomed to our extended family of art-appreciating, stone-loving, car fanatics. May our many paths cross often!