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Figurative Marble Sculpture by Kelly Borsheim


Colorado Yule Marble
one of a kind
49" x 16" x 14"
© 2003-2011
Kelly Borsheim

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[book street painting florence italy]
"Gymnast" marble sculpture by Kelly Borsheim

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[Borsheim Arts Studio woman Gymnast vertical pike position sitting on four headed fantasy turtle Marble Sculpture]
Gymnast, original marble sculpture by Kelly Borsheim on exhibit at "The Palms of Sanford" in central Florida from 2017.

[Gymnast Marble Sculpture Garden Surroundings]
Gymnast would look perfect in your garden, too!

[Gymnast Original Marble Sculpture]
The Inspiring Gymnast!

[marble sculpture of a gymnast in a vertical pike position sitting on a 4-headed tortoise stone carving]

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: On exhibit at Carved Stone in Dripping Springs, Texas

(Dripping Springs is just southwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.)

[stone carving marble gymnast art] [stone sculpture gymnast pike position]

Photos by Kelly Borsheim

Isn't the LIGHT amazing on this marble sculpture?!

[stone carving marble gymnast art]

[stone carving marble gymnast art] [stone sculpture gymnast pike position]

Each turtle head has a different pose and expression:
[stone carving marble turtle art] [stone sculpture turtles hold up gymnast]

"Gymnast" Marble Sculpture Before Leaving the Studio:

[stone carving marble athletic art] [stone sculpture gymnast]

More detail images of the marble art:
[stone carving marble face art] [stone sculpture face gymnast]

The Creation of the Marble Gymnast Contemporary Art Sculpture:

[stone carving design maquette] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: November 2009

Many years ago, I had an idea . . . yup, just one ;-) It began back in 2003 or 2004. I created a maquette (French word for a small sculpture that will be used to create a larger one) in plastilina of a gymnast in a pike position. I needed to make it so that I could calculate what cut of marble I needed. I had been itching to work larger for a while now.

I then contacted the quarry in Colorado and ordered my marble. I had them cut out a block of stone above the gymnast’s head to save me the effort, but more importantly to save the stone for another project. Until I can get enough of the proper tools (for example, a diamond-bladed chainsaw), it is best to outlab these kinds of things. The idea for this sculpture is a symmetrical vertical composition, with a bit of asymmetry in the feet for a fun element (the way no proper gymnast would pose).

See more images and text on my blog entry 1 December 2009.

Photos by Kelly Borsheim

[stone carving design] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: November 2009

After cutting away some of the block, I had to redraw my design. I am a direct carver. That means that I do not make a large sculpture out of plaster, clay, or wax and then measure and copy it into a block of stone.

Instead, I draw directly on the stone and cut what I do not wish to have there. Yes, I have my maquette (small sculpture in clay), but that is only a tool to help me determine my basic proportions. Soon, I will abandon it and work only with the stone.

See more images and text on my blog entry 1 December 2009.

Photos by Kelly Borsheim

[stone carving design] [stone carving design] [stone carving design]

[stone carving design] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: December 2010

Progress . . . It was important to me to create an airspace between the torso and the legs. The light falling in and around the stone is so very different than light surrounding a solid form. I had not carved something this complicated before. Even my marble "Stargazer" was not quite as difficult as this sculpture. Here, I had to carve a face that I really could not see or access easily, and try to shape a torso and thighs that I could hardly reach with my hand, much less any carving tool.

See more images and text on my blog entry 8 December 2010 - the crack in the stone.

Photos by Kelly Borsheim

[stone carving design] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: March 2011

Digging deeper, searching for the response of AWE . . .

See more images and text on my blog entry 6 March 2011 - Awe in stone carving.

Photos by Kelly Borsheim

[stone carving moving supports] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: May 6, 2011

Time to move the supports in so that the base can be cut down to size. I know when it is time to do this when I realize that I can no longer visualize cutting more stone from the figure because some part of my brain does not like the disproportion of the too huge base. Everything is relative. The other thing is that my training has taught me to work the whole piece. Stone carving has its own considerations, but I still combine my overall process with the techniques I use for each medium that I work with.

Self-Portrait (with timer) by Kelly Borsheim

[base marble stone carving] "Gymnast" Marble Carving: June 20, 2011

Here you may see that I have begun to shape the base. Now, I have the proportions of the marble sculpture more in line with all the parts. There will be a lot of refining of the figure's form as the base is being carved. Unfortunately, I have spent much of May and June away from my studio. Combine that with the abnormally (too soon) hot and drought situation weather, when I am home, I only work about two hours in the morning and two in the dusky evening. I have no way of moving this stone alone. I could erect a tarp over my work area, but in truth, the direct sun gives me a valid reason to get many other things done that are necessary at this time, including writing my first book. So, I am happy to get about four hours of carving in per day, when possible. Stay tuned on my blog for more frequent postings.

Image by Kelly Borsheim

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: July 15, 2011

By mid-July, the drought (and the heat) in central Texas was getting worse and I was beginning to worry if I could finish by November. I took out my chisels and really enjoyed creating this texture for the shell of the four-headed tortoise (right). I thought that the repetitiveness would bore me at some point, but I found myself enchanted as each part of the marble fell away, revealing its crystalline structure. Read more here:

Why Carve a Four-headed Tortoise / Turtle?

Art is not just expression; it is also problem-solving. And surprisingly, some solutions come with perfect meanings and make me wonder who really is directing one's art? Originally (2002-2003?), I had envisioned a sphere holding up the gymnast. However, in stone that is not practical, at least not with the sphere as I had imagined it. The connection point from sphere to body would have been too weak from too little marble. (It was wonderful being married to a mechanical engineer who taught me things about structure strength that I never thought to ask about. I am much smarter now!) I toyed a while with something more literal, such as a balance beam with half a sphere. But not only did it have a similar problem, but I found myself bored with too much realism.

Thoughts of Florence, Italy, are not often far from my mind and at some point I realized that my memory of the obelisk in the garden of the Palazzo Pitti was returning for a the base of the Eygptian form were four bronze turtles, one holding up each corner of the long and heavy stone. However, stone is a different material and I chose instead to create four heads with one large shell. I also combined the anatomies of tortoise and sea turtle. I decided that this was more fun and fit well with the fantasy in my head and in my marble. After my friend Lana Thompson died several years ago, her husband Joe Mole offered me some of her many books. I chose several books on ancient cultures and symbolism, and read in the following ...

[base marble stone carving]

Image by Kelly Borsheim

From "The Complete Dictionary of Symbols" Jack Tresidder, General Editor

Tortoise, Turtle:

Strength, patience, endurance, stability, slowness, fecundity, longevity. The tortoise or turtle (members of the same reptile group) is an important and ancient symbol of cosmic order in many traditions, especially those of China. Stone tortoises supporting the pillars of imperial graves allude to the legendary Ao who supported the world on its four legs. Associated with the north, water and winter, the animal also appeared on imperial banners as the Black Warrior. It was protective against fire as well as in war. In Japan, it supported the world mountain, and the marine turtle was the emblem of Kumpira, god of sailors - as it was of Ea, the Sumerian-Semitic Lord of the Deep. With a domed shell on its back and the squarer shell protecting its belly, the tortoise or turtle was widely used as a tripartite cosmic image of the vaulted heaven, the body (humankind) and the earth, underworld, or waters. In India, the symbolism of stability was emphasized by the notion that an elephant supported the world by standing on the legs of the cosmic turtle. Alternatively, the cosmic tree is shown growing from the turtle Kurma, which is an avatar of the sustainer god Vishnu. Creator hero symbolism appears again in Native American mythology where the turtle lifts the earth from the deep.

Although mainly a female, lunar and water symbol, the tortoise is linked both with female and male fertility, as in parts of Africa where the emerging head is seen as penile. As protective emblems, tortoises are popular household pets there.

Western symbolism is less extensive, best summed up in the Festina lente ("Make haste slowly") emblem of Cosimo de' Medici - a turtle with a sail on its back, voyaging slowly but surely. In alchemy, the tortoise symbolizes matter at the beginning of the evolutionary process.

[gymnast marble stone carving]

Image by Kelly Borsheim

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: August 19, 2011

Recently, someone abandoned this little kitten near my home. I am not sure how long she was living in my carport before I noticed her. I have a lot of critters that live around here and that I feed. Only this one was not wild. My soon-to-be ex-husband John came home for a visit one weekend and asked me to start feeding her. Knowing that I would not be living here before the year was out meant that he was willing to keep her after I had gone. I named her "Cat" following the example of Audrey Hepburn playing Holly Golightly in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's." At one point Holly exclaims, "I'm not Holly. I'm not Lulamae either. I don't know who I am. I'm like Cat here. We're a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other."

[gymnast marble stone carving] [gymnast marble stone carving]

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: 28 September, 2011

I suppose not unlike in the film, Cat and I became friends. Despite being a Leo, I am not really a cat person. I know that is a horrible thing for a cat lover to hear, but ... However, Cat seems like no other cat that I have met in that she is consistently affectionate! I think that she must have felt that she won the Lottery after having been abandoned. So, at least for the remainder of my time in Texas, I was happy to have such a loving companion. I miss my Zac, but my life has been too much in limbo for too long to afford me any kind of responsibility as having another companion.

[gymnast marble stone carving]

Image by Jayne Seiler-Plank

[gymnast marble stone carving]

Self-Portrait by Kelly Borsheim

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: 30 October 2011

The light is changing again as we move into the fall. The sun lies lower in the southern skies and makes unusual patterns through the trees near my worksite. I find shadows often intriguing, the way I am beguiled by the clouds in the sky. So many patterns, so many thoughts . . . the "Gymast" is developing beautifully.

Transporting the Marble Sculpture "Gymnast"

[gymnast marble stone carving]

13 November 2011: And the day came to move the stone . . .

[gymnast marble stone carving] [gymnast marble stone carving]

In these images, John Borsheim and Philip Hoggatt use a chain hoist to lift my heavy marble sculpture. Note that the thick straps are put directly on the sculpture, securing a good fit with the stone itself. There are two sections that are strapped since the sculpture will be tilted on her side for transport. The black blanket that you see in the image on the right has the sole function of protecting the marble from being scratched by the chain. One would NEVER lift a heavy sculpture wrapped inside a blanket! The fabric will no doubt shift during takeoff and the sculpture, not being directly held, will fall to the ground. It is for this reason that the wide, flat straps used to transport finished works of art are used ONLY for that -- keeping them clean is another trick for not scratching the art.

[gymnast marble stone carving]

It is important to have almost constant communication when moving something precious and heavy. Safety for the people and for the art is the primary concern.

After the marble "Gymnast" was safely loaded into Philip's truck and packed for protection against vibration, John's work was done. I followed Philip to his place, Carved Stone, so we could install three of my stone works into the sculpture garden there. My stone sculptures will be on exhibit at least through the annual Sculpture Challenge each March.

After stopping in Austin, Texas, for a much needed lunch break, we arrived in Dripping Springs. I must say that it was fun operating a forklift! I only did the lifting part, leaving the precision work to Phil, who has tons of experience moving large stone, and working his equipment. I got to guide "Gymnast" as we moved her forward, keeping her from swaying about too much. The following images were taken on my camera by Michelle Hoggatt.

[gymnast marble stone carving]

[gymnast marble stone carving]

[gymnast marble stone carving]

"Gymnast" Marble Carving: 13 November 2011

Philip Hoggatt and Kelly Borsheim: Almost finished installing Kelly's marble sculpture "Gymnast" at her new exhibit space in the Sculpture Garden at Carved Stone in Dripping Springs, Texas. The straps will be removed and Kelly will photograph her marble sculpture before the light fades soon. She will leave Texas in only days... "Gymnast" is available for some lucky collector, even a public collection!

Image by Michelle Hoggatt 13 Nov 2011

[gymnast marble stone carving]

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