Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Signs and Lost Marbles (Segno di Marmo, Pazzo)

This weekend between trips to the 24 Hr Fitness pool and such, I got out the 'tools of the marble carving trade' and sawed and sanded the awesome piece of marble that has been sitting in the workshop begging for attention. I tend to forget how heavy marble is until I have to hand-guide it across my diamond saw holding it steady to make precision cuts. This particular piece is a 1 x 0.4 meters and slab thickness.

If you try all this at home, be sure to get a round hammer, because when lettering with the flat chisels, every strike is always flush when you don't have to worry about the striking head turning at an angle. My two chisels are 6mm and 10mm, easily resharpened with abrasives such as sand paper, diamond pads, or toothpaste. They do not have names yet, mostly because that would just be weird and partly because only rock stars who play guitar can get away with that.

The marble specimen itself is Afyon Purple Paonazzo, which in ancient times would have been highly prized during Hadrian's reign because he apparently liked the stone. It has been quarried in Turkey (Phrygia) for thousands of years. I decided to use the non polished side of the slab for the carving because it will make the result look more genuine.

To get the layout right, I tried running it through the printer, but it didn't work very well and it kept saying 'PC Load Letter' whatever that means.

Then, the paper printout of the best version of Trajan font came out like the ambulance sign on the award winning Open Letters Blog, but that was ok, because it helped me with my layout of the text in the next step.

I ended up drawing the line spacing and text with a soft lead mechanical pencil, which worked very well.

Doesn't my paonazzo piece look similar to many of the ancient building floors in Rome? Here is the floor of the Pantheon.

Next, I'll start the v-incised letter carving itself, but the prep work had to be done. Still haven't decided whether to fill in the notched carving with bronze or some other gilded metal. If the notches of the letters are cut deep enough it should be visible from pretty far away, after all Rome had a few years to get the whole public signage thing right.

I'll be passing through Carrara Italy this fall, I wonder how much marble I can carry back?

Ho iniziato un segno in marmo per una piscina. Si spera, sembra molto vecchio. Può essere difficile per la progettazione lettere vecchio.


  1. Wow! I am so impressed that you are taking on this project! You got mad skillz, yo!

  2. "They do not have names yet, mostly because that would just be weird and partly because only rock stars who play guitar can get away with that."

    I'm a tad confused. The chisels? Do chisels have names and why would a rock star have a chisel? Rock stars are slobs. Aren't they?!


    I love the printer bashing photo. I hate printers so much I refuse to own one any more. I'm just too fed up of the damn things.

  3. I don’t have a round hammer so I’ll definitely not try this at home. The ways I could hurt myself are endless.
    Toothpaste?! Is that the reason why I have fangs? Jeez Eric, why couldn't you have written this post sooner?

    BTW, you can name your chisels: achilles and hector. Just buy a guitar and you are set :)
    And hey, don't poke your eye out while carving that lovely marble!

  4. Thanks for the shout-out! And love the Office Space homage, lol!

  5. Oh, hey, sorry, forgot to leave a comment. My wife checked the inscription out and says it looks fine. It took her a while to figure out to whom the quote was attributed.

    For my part, I was wondering why you were telling people to play sweetly with little axes in the hot water.

  6. Katrocket, thanks! I should do something for your great garden, huh?

    Mo, now I'm confused a bit. They are rock stars in their own little steely ways, my chisels. The printer was acting up probably because I tried to feed the marble slab directly into it.

    Dutch Donut Girl, yes be extremely careful with sharp objects and hammers. :)
    For some reason, I was thinking of the stannous flouride and other abrasives in toothpaste when I wrote that (it was late).
    I have a guitar now, but am hardly a star, good pet names for the chisels though.

    Heather, :) No problem, I love both the Open Letter and your blog, as I've said you guys are like the Ghost Busters of comedy.
    I will always proudly display Office Space as a favorite movie in my profile, lol.

    Mjenks, Thanks! I'm glad it was not complete monkeybucket jibberish to her (or anyone else).
    The text in its entirety should be translated:
    'Relax and Play'
    'Swimming Pool' (Aqua Dulci is fresh water as opposed to Aqua Mer, ocean water in context)
    And the last line contains a voting tribe reference, my name, and 'D E SP' is abbreviation that means I paid for it, lol.

  7. I wanna go to Italy! You're lucky. I've been twice and now I say I'm "homesick" for it.
    Your project looks amazing.

  8. I love that dealing with marble is easier than dealing with printers.

  9. So many projects, so little time...


    Happy Tuesday, Eric.

  10. There is something very sexy about sculpting.

  11. You are very talented and that's a fact.

    Also, I think you should name the chisels - you can also do it in a spirit of irony! :)

  12. He's doing it again everyone!

    I learned something!

  13. Anna Russell, I was homesick after the first time. I think we are kindred spirits to a degree, although I can't completely agree with you on Batman, but I'm all for Wonder Woman. Thanks, I hope the project turns out ok!

    WendyB, lol, sometimes... as long as the marble doesn't crack or something while I'm chiseling.

    Lopez, that's the deal I think, not enough time. I still have to make you guys something.

    Prunella, is sculpting sexy to you because the sculptor is making something from scratch, using hands and all the muscles as the marble dust stirred up by the chisel and hammer coats the definition and cuts of sculptor's tanned upper body, and it all glistens with a moist glow of perspiration in the struggle to make classic art? No, I think it's mostly because the stuff at the end of the process looks neat. :)

    Lidian, thank you, you are a talented writer. I always enjoy your commentary and great retro stuff. I think I might name my chis... wait a minute, you just made a pun with 'iron'y. lol.

  14. The Jules, and this time it's not gilded...

  15. "I tend to forget how heavy marble is until I have to hand-guide it across my diamond saw holding it steady to make precision cuts."

    I know, right? Marble is just impossible sometimes! Despite your obvious (not) shortcomings with marble-wrangling, your work is looking sweeeeeeeet* so far

    And I'm still wondering what the f*ck 'PC Load Letter' means.

    *I believe this is the original Latin, no?

  16. the girl, Thanks for the compliment (in original Latin of course) :)

  17. so jealous- the only stone I've carved is alabaster. Although, it wasn't the color "alabaster" it was oranges and browns. It sounds like its good that I didn't venture into marble though, because I was too impatient and used power tools on the alabaster.

  18. That marble is niiiice. Very pretty. I'm sure it will help with the babe-magnetism of your pool area.

    : )

  19. Valerie, This place has some pretty good selection of alabaster, so I know what you mean. I have a bit of patience, but not enough to carve granite. Those artists are gluttons for punishment.

    Soda, thanks! I love me some good marble... *going off to manufacture a marble shirt* lol

  20. oh thanks for the link- and too the "going off to manufacture a marble shirt" made me think of the artist Judd Nelson- who carves some pretty crazy stuff out of marble, including what looks like a perfectly folded dress shirt. Here's a hefty bag that he made.

  21. I've been pricing out white carrara slabs for countertops forever. I finally had to give it up due the price and maintenance. I wonder if it's cheaper in Italy...like chicklets in mexico.

  22. Valerie, that is a cool work by J. Nelson. ps - thanks for leaving the pun about 'white trash' wide open...

    Nikki, the really good stuff is pricy just about everywhere. But I think it's worth it! A place in Colorado called Polycor has stone that looks similar to carrara marble, they quoted me 18 USD per sq ft slab thickness, FOB Atlanta, GA.

  23. That is so awesome. I'm jealous you're visiting Italy, but I bet you'll have fun. PC Load Letter!! I heart Office Space. :)

  24. I wish I had some kind of artistic skill like that. But...I am good at staying in the lines in my daughter's assortment of coloring books.

    I don't see why you shouldn't name them. I'm brain storming right now...

  25. Fascinating... I'm in a creative mood but I think I'll leave anything involving chisels to someone better equipped.

    Feeling bummed that it's taken me so long to come check out your blog.

  26. Kimizzy, thanks, maybe it will turn out well! I like big marble-ish signs with authentic carvings. Italy should be fun, I'll refine my mosaic technique from some of the best in the world.

    OWO, staying in the lines is half the challenge, or fun, I don't know...
    Let me know about names, open to suggestions!

    Call Me Cate, thanks for stopping by, and thanks! You might want to try some fresco or mosaic, that's creative, but potentially less hazardous.
    :) I just enjoy the look of chiseled marble so I'm willing to take the risks.

  27. You should totally party with some Carrara, Italy, bloggers while you're there. They are crazeeee!'

  28. Make sure you check out my blog tomorrow morning : )

  29. Grant, no doubt! With all that pristine marble there for the carving, how can you not par-tay?

    Soda, you know I will! :)

  30. Lost marbles .... reminds me of a random thought. Is there a Lost and Found office that has a special section with lost marbles?!