Above: This marble torso was started in July 2004. I had the idea for the piece as I was driving up to Colorado to carve in the mountains near the
Yule Marble Quarry. I remembered a sketch I had done of a dancer during a performance of the Harlem Ballet in Austin, Texas. I did not have the sketch with me, or a maquette, but I was pleased
with my crayon sketch on the stone itself (see image on the left). I had a slab of marble cut off the back since the stone was too deep for my drawing and
I will use the leftover stone for some other works of art. The second image is of my carving site. I get great energy from the mountains and the surrounding
marble and trees. The third image shows how I am removing stone based on the silhouettes of my drawing on each side. I am constantly redrawing as lines emerge.
Colorado-based carver Jack Haggerty took the fourth photo. I am using a pneumatic chisel to remove scored stone fast.
Refining the Shape:
Above: The image on the left shows my markings on the marble. I use different colored crayons to tell me different kinds of information. Of course, the color
of the markings often is determined by what is within reach at the moment I see something. The image in which I am wearing a flowered sari was taken by California-based
carver Bob O'Neill and the image on the right is a self portrait taken two days later.
Refining the Shape:
Above: August 2, 2004. My brother Steve took the photo of me slimming down the hip of the marble torso just 2 days after I turned 40 years old. He flew in from
North Carolina to surprise me and we had a great visit. I let him help with the cut, so now he has some stone carving experience, too.
I included the image on the right so that you could see the difference a great file makes in removing tool marks and creating a wonderful soft form to the stone. I tilted the torso on her back and
have filed and shaped most of the breast on the top half of the image. The bottom half (rib cage) shows the tool marks that I have since removed. This finishing work
is what takes the longest for me. It is almost a love-hate relationship at this point. I hate that it takes me so long because I work
and I wait -- watching how the sun moves across the sculpture, how the changing light falls across the form. I reshape what I find displeasing. On the other hand,
this is the most intimate stage of the sculpting process because I examine every inch of the stone. I caress each part, knowing that my fingers often give me
more information than my eyes can. And I remember what drew me to this idea and to this stone in the first place. For me, the
sweetest step is actually bringing the work to what I consider complete.
This marble torso was completed on October 6, 2004.