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On the blog: Leaves of grass

July 30, 2013
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator for The Sculpture Project

It almost feels like a beach inside the sculptor’s safety enclosure at Main Street Square these days. There’s the wind and water, of course. The fine sand billowing across the floor from recent sandblasting adds to the effect.

Nagase hired Rapid City’s Rausch Granite to assist him with adding the pattern of grasses into the exterior of the Badlands Garden stones along Main Street. Using templates that the sculptor created on a hard, thin rubber material that adheres to the granite, Rausch began sandblasting parts of Badlands stones number 8 and 9 last week.

“The sandblasting tank shoots out a small little stream of fine quartz and pebbles that are stronger than the stone, kind of like a fire hose,” explained Nagase’s assistant, Martin Rickert. “This takes away the granite around the template little by little.”

The results are sections of beautiful, flowing grass shapes about 14 inches high that stand out from the granite’s recently sandblasted surface by about an eighth of an inch. The sandblasting creates sharp, fine edges around the patterns.

Once sandblasting is complete, Rickert will go back and carve around the patterns to create more depth and contrast. The sculptor had previously polished the sections of granite where the grasses are being added, so the grasses have a shiny, colorful surface.

To create the templates for sandblasting, the sculptor started with the plywood templates that he made while he was still in Berkeley. (He made these by projecting images of his carved plaster models onto the plywood and tracing, then cutting, around the shapes.) He sketched modifications to these templates and transferred them to the thin rubber. If you visit the project and look at the rubber templates on the granite, you can see traces of the artist’s sketching process. He then cut around the grass shapes and this negative space is exposed and removed during sandblasting.

The artist, with assistance from Rausch, will continue to use sandblasting to create elements throughout the project, including the handprints he’ll collect from community members for the spires.

See a video on YouTube of Martin Rickert explaining the sandblasting process.


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