Marble Sculpture


One of our members showed another member (Dale K.) an abandoned marble quarry south of Aguila.  Dale is also a member of the Wickenburg Art Club.  He saw one rock, a bit too large for a cabochon, that inspired thoughts for a sculpture.

The following images show Dale and his wife Debbie removing the rock from the quarry, the sculpture under construction, and the final piece.

The face of the rock was cut and polished with a hand grinder / polisher.  The other surfaces were coated with an epoxy sealer to produce a semi-gloss finish which would also help to keep the porous rock clean.  The bottom of the rock was cut square with a hand grinder.  Holes were drilled and threaded aluminum inserts were epoxied into place to provide for secure mounting to a sturdy, hand-cut and welded steel frame.  Four caster wheels allow the sculpture to be rolled around.

The “tree” was formed from about 150 feet of 3/8″ diameter decorative steel rod (fancy rebar).  All of the welding was done on the internal surfaces so none is visible from the outside.  A computer model was completed first to determine where the bends should be and how many bars were to be placed where to get smooth diameters and transitions between trunk and branches.  The steel is finished with clear laquer and hand-rubbed black wax to give a natural, wood-textured appearance.

The snake was rough shaped from white clay and made to fit the shape of the rock while allowing for the 20% shrinkage that would occur when the clay was fired.  When the clay dried, the snake was hand carved and then sanded.  The piece was cut into two pieces to allow it to fit into a large kiln.  After the first firing, the two snake-pieces were coated with a gloss black glaze and then fired again.  The two pieces were joined with black epoxy and then the joint was touched up with gloss black fingernail polish.

A slab of flat-shaped marble was selected to lie on the “ground” near the tree.  The slab was cut on the outside edges to give the appearance of the whole sculpture being cut from the ground and lifted out.  These outside surfaces were polished with a hand polisher.

Grass was created by welding short lengths of bailing wire to the steel base plate.  A plant was created by unraveling and welding several lengths of twisted cable.  A nest was created from dozens of pieces of heavy gauge steel wire.

The artist complains about always finding trash in the desert.  An old can found on a mine dump is embedded on the back floor of the sculpture as a “comment” on that practice.

With the tree, rock, “grass”, plant, can, and flat slab in place, epoxy (colored with brown, white, and black tempera powder paint) was poured over the steel base to form the hard desert floor.



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The quarry south of Aguila, AZ. The hills in this area are almost entirely grey to honey-colored marble.
















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Marble folded by a magma intrusion.






































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Pulling the rock from the pit.


















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The rock is almost out of the pit.




































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Now, let’s load it up.




































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A Floor jack, ATV ramps, a pry bar, and a sliding board should do it.




















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Inching the rock up the ramp.

































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Almost there.


















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2-piece snake ready to be fired for the first time.

2-piece snake ready to be fired for the first time.



















Welding the nest.

Welding the nest.



















The snake is ceramic, hand carved and then fired with black glaze.

The snake is ceramic, hand carved and then fired with black glaze.







































The "ground" is colored epoxy.

The “ground” is colored epoxy.




































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This piece weighs over 400 pounds!

This piece weighs over 400 pounds! Sculpture title: “A DESERT SCENE”.