Gangelhoff, Bonnie, Southwest Art
A visit with the sculptors of the PURPLE DOOR STUDIO in Denver, CO
Why do you choose to work in stone?
Mark Brodie: People have an innate attraction to naturally occurring materials such as wood or stone. Even outside of art and sculpture, we are drawn to stone in our environment. Who doesn't love the sculptures of the Grand Canyon, Arches, or Canyonlands national parks?
Eric Marshall: Stone is in my family blood. My great-grandfather on my father's side was a stone sculptor in Kentucky, and on my mother's side, my great-grandfather worked in the quarry in Marble, CO, in the early 190Os.
Tom Weeden: Stone seems the most primitive of materials and has its own natural beauty.
Madeline Wiener: I love everything about stone-the textures, lines, and forms that can be created are endless and the mechanics are very thrilling. I love the sounds of the stone from the beginning days of using the hammer and chisel to the rhythmic sounds of filing and sanding.
What it the most challenging aspect of working with the material?
Mark Brodie: The greatest challenge is also the most obvious-moving the stone. secondly, if you make a mistake, you have some serious rethinking and adjustments to make.
Edy Chemiack: If I have something in my head, the most challenging thing is to reproduce it.
Michael Clapper: The dust.
Dave Holton: It's challenging to rough out a shape from a block of stone. It takes a lot of time. We use 30 to 40 percent of the stone we start with; we remove more than we retain.
Josh Wiener: The amount of time it takes to refine the surface.
Madeline Wiener: When I first started to carve larger stone, moving and handling it was the most challenging. Now, I'd say that with age, maintaining long hours and using heavy tools are the most challenging. But I'm up to it!
What are some of the tools you use to create your sculptures?
Vanessa Clarke: Angle grinders with various sized blades, which I use for roughing out a sculpture and adding textures. Pneumatic air hammers and chisels for detail and texture.
Dave Holton: Hydraulic diamond chain saws, electric saws and grinders, air saws and grinders, and diamond sanding pads.
Tom Weeden: Spinning blades, hammers, chisels, carbide, sandpaper, eyes, ears, and hands.
The studio n dusty and noisy. What precautions do you take to protect your health? Michael Clapper: The usual outfit includes a dual-cartridge respirator, anti-vibration gloves, hearing protection, and eye covering.
Vanessa Clarke: I have a respirator that I wear over my nose and mouth. Goggles protect my eyes and I have ear protection with a built-in radio. The studio also has a filtration system that helps trap the dust and keep it to a minimum.
Tom Weeden: Headphones, respirator, eye protection, hard-toed shoes, and back support.
What inspires your work? Mark Brodie: I am attracted to simple, clean lines. These types of lines and forms are found all throughout nature in places like sand dunes, patterns made by ocean waves, wind- or watereroded rock, or even complex mathematical formulas. …