MAKE IT FLAT
To laminate properly the surfaces must be very flat to avoid gaps. For large stones we used power equipment, in particular, a Blackcat which is a diamond grinding wheel on an angle grinder. It still required laying a steel flat edge over the surface repeatedly to find the high spots, mark them and grind again. Eventually the surfaces matched and we were able to drill holes for stainless pins and epoxy them together. The pins are necessary as stones can separate, not on the epoxy line but on the next layer of crystals.
On a smaller scale you can use a concrete block with some sand on it and rub the stone on it. This goes fast with softer stones but does take patience with marble. All the high spots are ground down for a very flat surface before gluing.
Lastly, if the carving is substantially done you might consider slightly “hollowing out” the middle of the stone. Then you will only have to flatten the outside “rim” of the stone. For a base to be flat I might remove just ¼” of the center of the bottom.
Sometimes we need to secure a small crack, a micro-fissure, in a stone. Most often a few drops of super glue (Cyanoacrylate) will hold it until you finish working the area. I use the inexpensive stuff but for tight cracks you might consider the really liquid versions of these better ones: Starbond, Zap or Jet. They now make gel super glues for slightly wider openings.
In alabaster this might be all you need to do. However, on marble this type of glue may not be a permanent fix. Further, this doesn’t work well when you are gluing two pieces together. Epoxy, which is a two part glue, is much stronger. Again you can use the inexpensive type from the hardware store. There is a more liquid type called penetrating epoxy (Tenax, Wood and Glue and others). I do prefer the slower curing time ones – 20 minutes versus 5 minutes – to let me positions components best.
Final note: If you are gluing two pieces together you may think all is well. However, it is possible that the pieces will break again along the very next row of crystals. Therefore, even though it is kind of a pain, it is best to put a small pin between the pieces which are to be reunited. This might just a sort ¼” stainless rod (or bolt with the head cut off) and then gluing the pieces with the epoxy.
A base is like a frame. It accentuates the sculpture. It is important to select a base that is not too busy or large for the sculpture. You don’t want to take attention away from your masterpiece. You want to have a stable base but sometimes it looks best if the sculpture overhangs its support. On the other hand, the “footprint” of the sculpture should be at least and generally not much more than 1-1.5″ from the edges of the base. As a very general rule, the height of the base should not be more than 1/3 the height of the sculpture. The base can be granite, irregular stones, steel, plexiglass wood (I like ebony stained walnut), etc.
©2015 E. Woodbury
Here is the detail methodology of “basing”:
• Get a flat and level surface to work upon
• Determine sculpture position; secure and hold it
• Mark bottom level line
• Cut bottom; check for flatness (might use a tile)
• On larger bases, cut out center of the bottom to make flattening easier
• Determine hole location in sculpture bottom (find center with a pebble)
• Drill hole with hammer or core drill (consider the bedding plane)
• Determine hole in base: mark sculpture footprint on the base or cut out a template (cardboard or masonite); mark “up”
• Drill base
• Decide on pins: stainless steel or turning pin: gluing one or both sides or using threaded connectors. Consider the ultimate weight of the piece.
• Put non-scratch feet base or adjustable feet on larger pedestal
• Proudly display sculpture
Pinning and sleeving
As you can see throughout my collection, I combine stones. I have many examples of marrying various translucent stones together which I illuminate with adjustable LED lights. I feel translucent stones such as Onyx, Alabaster, Calcite, and Fluorite a enhances with lights. Yes, light shining onto a stone reflects the surface beautifully. Light glowing from within a stone illuminates the structure and veining of the stone. Realizing depth colors not otherwise revealed. My sculptures awaken at night, bathing my home with a kaleidoscope of colors.
In order to achieve a lasting strong union between these stones I use a variety of pins and sleeves. This method is typically used to mount a sculpture to its base. I take it to a different level using hollow pins to pass LED lighting through, along with almost a “Russian Doll” telescoping system with multiple pins and sleeves in differing sizes and lengths to achieve balance and structure with my sculptures.
I am an imaginative Sculptor which necessitates creative design and assembly techniques that keep me up at night contemplating.