Fritz and I were in Maine in the very late spring. He had a gig
teaching Chisenbop, aka Korean finger math, at a small arts and
educational center in the little town of Hope that is run by a former
student of his. Hope turned out to have much more to it than initially
met the eye. It has, for example, become the home of two Asian
elephants, rescued from circus life and the routine mistreatment that
comes with that territory. And it also boasts an extensive bagpipe
studio and workshop belonging to the husband of the aforementioned
former student. He has invented devices that, when added to a
bagpipe's drones, can extend their range. In the relatively small world
of the bagpipe in the U.S., this is huge.
On our way to Hope, we had stopped for the night at the home of an old
and dear friend of Fritz's who is always a pleasure to visit; before we went
out to dinner, she said we must see the the local art
association's exhibit and sale. The work was in a very wide variety of
media and of very good quality. I was particularly struck by a number
of small sculptures in granite carved in leaf and fern patterns. They were small, 12 to 18 inches in height and elegant. I remembered seeing a much larger, similar work outside the building and inquired if it was by the same sculptor and/or for sale.
Leaf by Obadiah Buell. 4' tall, currently resting on a rolling dolley in front of the house.
The answer to both questions was yes. For a long time I had wanted a tall piece for the garden and had been in contact with a local artist in carved wood to commission a piece from him. After a year of hearing nothing from him, I looked at this simple but striking piece as something that would work well for us. Of course, granite isn't carved wood and the weight issue had to be factored in. With help from the staff, of the art center, Leaf was placed into the car, was paid for, and was mine.
Sculptor Obadiah Buell (above) grew up to granite at his family's quarry where he began carving at an early age. I liked his work very much and knew exactly where I wanted it on the property, just where the division line is between the natural woods floor and the planted area south of, and downhill from the house.
I dug a shallow hole, shallow because the rock layer of our hillside is only about five inches below ground level in the area where I want the sculpture. With help from Fritz's nephew Ron, holes were drilled down into the rock and rebar was hammered into them to completely anchor the cement base to the rock. I had already built a pressure treated wooden form whose outside dimensions were the same as the dimensions of the sculpture's black stone base. I had trimmed the bottom of the mold so that its top was completely level when it was placed on the rock bottom of the hole.
I mixed the cement and filled the box with it, being careful to make the top of the cement perfectly flat and even with the top of the mold. After two days I settled the stone base gently on it and was happy to see that it proved to be completely level in all directions.
My idea, seen in preliminary form, is to have the sides of the wood mold faced with stone from our hillside that appear the minute we dig to plant anything. Eventually, I want a natural stone flat-topped pyramid look. Settling the sculpture onto the base will take at least four men, and we'll have the necessary number on Labor day weekend.