Archives for the month of: August, 2012


Anne Hickey knew I would have a good time on Thursday (a little day trip to St. Andrews). I insisted all the way up until Wednesday that I must go to my studio and work on some ideas; I came to my senses.
Started reading a new book called ‘Quiet’, and chilled in Signe’s car until we reached the whale watching warf. I opted out because I start to feel famished the moment I get outside of town and the tour was three and a half hours long. I worried that they were hungry the whole time, so I bought crystallized ginger, gluten free scones, raw coconut butter truffles (, and some cured duck breast.
We went to Ken’s studio and saw how he turns stone on a lathe. He also showed us his (extensive) rock collection before we met up with the (successful and starving) whale watchers: Kingsbrae Gardens for a (scrumptious) lunch and a sculpture tour.
Their collection is pretty decked out, including a smattering of mediums and scales. It’s a gorgeous place too, quiet. Whenever I hear an air compressor or heavy machinery working or masonry saws, I feel the need to investigate. We all do, right?


The last week’s been a blur, but I have a minute now. We came from a reception with the town of Grand Bay Westfield where a flash thunder & lightning storm destroyed the tents, drew us all inside. No rainbow (Japanese rainbow: Riji, Bulgarian rainbow: дъга), but plenty of fruit, violin playing, and excitement for Radoslav’s sculpture.

Yesterday we had a heavy machinery synchronistic moment: one large crane came to move Jhonny’s stone, while the Carnival Glory lingered in the mist and Coast Guard helicopter ascended into the fog and a fuel truck meandered over to the compressor. Alice Fudge instagramed a great shot. Follow Meghan Barton and Christiana Meyers for even more great shots of the Sculpture Saint John 2012 site.

Jhonny G and Allison Greene. Note the scaffolding (things are at the next level).

Agnessa is bending the stone, it seems, when she carves her rectangular waves.

Jo’s tower is now starting to remind me of a rook at sea. Lots of polishing going on there.

Jim’s sculpture’s waves are peaking out of St. George pink granite.

Radoslav has made perfect steps swirling into the middle, square space. Asano referenced Radoslav’s sculpture to tell me that he had no need of scaffolding, but would prefer a step ladder instead.

Asano had Megan Barton and I help with the pneumatic drilling and chiselling of his base stone. My wrists are like He-man’s.

Asano and Meghan making dish forms in granite

I stayed at the Villa for a few nights and played linguistics games with sculpture people, took walks through the stations, ate gluten free, and gathered textures for my SJAC ‘Make Six Mugs in Six Hours’ class. I just made it on time for when CTV ‘Live at 5’ came to film at the site.

The City of Saint John has loaned the Symposium a (literally) green Hybrid – completely silent – automobile. We’ve been sharing music: Lightning Bolt, Austra, Blood Brothers, Azelia Banks, Motorhead; Bulgarian Klezmer stuff like that.

A teeny bit of whining: at the end of the day before my day off, while looking in the shed for my book: a wasp stings the back of my neck. It was a moment of personal insult, because I stuck up for them.

Parts location gratification: Harbour City Electrical sold us some carbon brushes for our saws. When they go, the saw sounds clunky, starts to skip, and then stops completely. The carbons degrade quickly with frequent sustained use, so when Agnessa’s saw went chunky I got a few (they come in tiny boxes); luckily, Asano knows how to replace them.

We’re waiting for 5” blades and no one likes the blue 7” blades because they wear out too quickly. These are kind of first timey things that happen, and it’s not the end of the world, it just means more frequent flange changing and some protective feelings about the Allen keys.

Jo and the tower

If you’ve not been to the sculptures in a couple of days, please come down to the Coast Guard site and see the progress. I’m not on site Wednesday: I’m making Empty Bowls with seven children from Iran, China and Korea, then after that: Meet the Sculptors: 7pm at the Saint John Arts Centre. See you there?

The (air, water, and electric) hoses are crossing a high traffic area and were run over again yesterday. Chuck renailed down the bridge (that thing you drive over, instead of the hoses). Oh and we’re spraypainting it pink too. The hoses belong there though; the Coast Guard hanger is close and that’s where the compressor’s parked. Monday’s crane, maybe?

Crane day is always exciting. The rigging is extraordinary. Alice Fudge took a fantastic shot of Jo Kley and his beautiful ark rigged to the crane. See it on instagram and on the Sculpture Saint John facebook page.

I managed to buy Wendy (of the Shoot’s Bookstall at the Saint John City Market)’s copy of Jane Urquart’s ‘The Stone Carvers’. She kept claiming she was reading it (therefore c(w)ouldn’t sell it), but I can tell you I never saw a bookmark pass through that thing. Now it’s mine!

At first, I thought my garden would be miffed that I hadn’t been by. But no: it’s better than fine. There’re carrots and peas, beans and radishes, swiss chard and strawberries, beets and herbs galore, oh and a zucchini plant, oh and something that I didn’t plant which’s growing with the peas. If someone is playing a joke on me: I predict it’s cucumber, since I don’t like cucumbers – but guess what – I recently acquired a taste for cucumber! Who’s laughing now? But if it’s watermelon, they got me.Image

Success on the tool provision front! We had a damaged M14 shank to arbour adapter duplicated for Radoslav and it totally works. Thanks to Dale Forbes, the new larger splitting wedges are popular with Jhon, Jo, and Asano! Like I said, things are taking shape.Image

At the Saint John Arts Centre, the kids have been having lots of fun making clay animals and cups, books and paintings, and more. One of my most familiar students (he’s taken quite a few of my classes) said, “I feel bad today!” So I asked, “What would make you feel better?” He then replied, “Tomorrow!”

He’s six and he totally get’s me.Image

At the Saint John Arts Centre this morning, I taught the first of five morning classes for 10 kids ages 5-8 before I returned to the Sculpture Saint John site. In the class we made kitties out of clay and drew plans for the next three animals we intend make. We intend to make a tiny world. 

On site, Mary and Bruce Martin made us a delicious meatball lunch with scrumptious rice and poppy seed dressing for the summer salad. It was so good and we were warmed from the fog. Today I became the main contact person for getting supplies for the site as well as tracking inventory. This is all new to me, just like stone sculpture. I love working with these folks; each artist uses a spinning saw.

Went to Source Atlantic and checked in on our order. There are always a couple of lists on the go and everyone wants everything eons ago. It’s fascinating to see how precisely they see stone.  We try and find all the tools they need, but it can be difficult when there are many languages and two measuring systems involved. It’s funny how many ways there are to say the same thing. 

The Carnival Glory was parked beside us today. Guess what though: it was a ‘Saw’ theme cruise! Saw at Sea! I didn’t believe it, but Chrissy looked it up. 

They’re all going to Saint Martin’s tomorrow to see the sea, and more, I’m sure of it. I’m excited for them, but I’m teaching kids clay in the morning and then throwing ‘empty bowls’ with folks from the Multicultural center in the afternoon. 

We’ll probably be able to have Rado’s drill adapter duplicated at a machine shop. It’s M14 and made of aluminum. He uses this to fit a core drill and the shank got bent a little, so it had erratic rotations which could destroy the bit and the smooth surface he’s going for. 

This morning the diesel air compressor refill guy came to the site. After we peeled back the fence I asked, ‘do you think you can drive over the hoses and wires where the blocks of wood are protecting them?’ He said ‘yeah, of course!’ and then he promptly drove right over the hoses and burst the water line. It was kind of funny because the reaction was so sudden! Two steady sprays reaching half way up the fuel truck.  I shut down the line and we replaced the connector and clamps, then it was fine. 

We went to the city market today and had a lovely lunch at Slocum and Ferris’. I am one of two interns who is gluten intolerant, so Megan and I got our lunch on rice instead of bread (the Villa Maddonna has been great about accommodating this). When we were walking through King’s Square Agnessa pointed out the stars at the top of the Young monument, one features the words: truth, virtue, temperance. She asked what temperance meant and I explained that it meant a consistent personal state, like not passionate in either direction. This was a significant moment for me, since I am distinctly not temperate. To sculpt in stone, it appears that one must hone the violence of the soul and release it in measured, determined blows, cuts, and polishings.

 Jo would disagree. He says that he is quite gentle with his stones. This comment stems from me saying I am so used to working with clay, seeing them smashing the stone with steel mallets and slicing it with circular blades seems, well..aggressive. He said, ‘you are used to being able to add and move things, while we only take things away’.

It’s loud on site as well, and I am used to working in almost complete silence.  I am bothered by the sound of electricity passing through a light bulb, or a speaker left on. I wear protective ear coverings all the time, even though I spend most of it in and around the shed, taking stock of what we have -which is lots of things- and making lists of what we need, which is a lot of things. It’s hard to keep track of it all, and I am the list person. Jim let me polish a bit on Wednesday, which was a big relief. I am most relaxed when my hands are doing something; also you must use water for the polishing disks, so it’s misty and cooling (sometimes I see a rainbow). We were all thinking about Alice.

A photograph of Radoslav’s stone is attached to this and you can see that lots has changed since that 22mm hole passed through the side. He’s quite happy that the flanges have arrived. 

Jhon took my glasses today and squinted wearing them asking: ‘is this plus or minus? I see no difference’. I looked up  the Georgian translation for astigmatism. It’s: astigmatism. 

Asano’s stone will be ready to turn over on Monday. The cranes come on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

I thought of a sappyish lineImageImage: I wish I had a sandpaper heart, so that I could smooth things over and be really tough.

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Today was Asano - san's birthday

Asano is making a sculpture for UNBSJ



This morning a large group of family, friends and political officials welcomed the sculptors (and interns) and finally saw the stones we’ll be working for the next six weeks. It was foggy, and people were excited. There’s been much discussion about supplies, flanges, tools, and cranes.
I got to swing a pretty major hammer and obliterate a few inches of granite for Agnessa. Still stoked.



Ten tonnes of granite will be extracted from this site, then transformed into public art by six international stone sculptors, aided by 6 interns. It’s a monumentous event for Saint John and for me.