Friday, October 31, 2008

Logistically Speaking

So here we are at the last day of the month. I don't know about you but October has exhausted me. In the last four weeks I've experienced blazing sun-and I mean blazing, high winds, pouring rain and snow. And today we are heading back to a sunny high that would rival the beginning of Spring. Now everyone, including myself, enjoys warm sunny weather but in our house the changing of the seasons brings with it a specific set of tasks and chores. And believe me shutting down a large backyard garden and preparing the house for Winter...and the Holidays has to be planned, timed and coordinated or you could find yourself shovelling a path to your shed to put away the BBQ. Now I'm not one to shy from my duties, in fact I rather enjoy the responsibility, but this weather is driving me nuts! For example...I started with our Christmas lights weeks ago, while it was warm, but I have to wait until 'after' Halloween to complete them because running kiddies have in the past pulled out the power lines as they 'short cut' through our shrubbery. Then there are the bikes, deck furniture, BBQ and lawnmower and so on. All are put away in a certain order so as to not 'gum' up the works. Now add into the mix moving my studio up into the garage before it gets too cold...oh but wait...the garage door installers need that space to work. And then there is the preparing of inventory (wherever I find square footage) for an upcoming show...or maybe two.

I think, logistically speaking, it would be easier to send a monkey into space. At least in space the weather is consistent.
Todays pic is one of my freeform Planters in a Granite finish. Because they are handmade they can be any size or shape. This particular one is almost 24 inches at the widest.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where And How

It goes without saying that we are bombarded with visual distractions each and every day. From the second we wake up we are force fed pre-packaged or manipulated images in the form of advertising...all in the name of commerce. Art too can be overwhelming when it has been overprocessed. Personally I think that art is simply where, and how, you look at something.

This photo shows 'blooms' of competing lichens on weathered Lime stone. Each complimenting the other.

This is from the natural rockery surrounding the patio in our garden.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It feels good to finally get my 'biz' card design completed. And the star of this post is my new Graphic Designer with whom I've been dealing for a whopping seven days. I mention that only to emphasize the speed in which he works. And he is now creating signage for my booth. Vinyl lettering for my vehicle, one of his specialties, might also be an option. Fast, professional and local...what else can you ask for? If you'd like to know more about the huge range of his services contact 'Jeremy' at Tell him 'The Stone Garden' sent you.

And don't forget to visit the Brampton Art Fair, November 22, at The Rose Theatre. I will be shamelessly flogging my own wares at table number 47.

In the meantime check out my new card design. It will be large at 4 x 6 inches closely resembling a postcard in look and feel...later Alligator.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good Grief People

I have to admit I'm not really a fan of Halloween. On our street we don't see many small kids tapping at the door. Instead we get least I hope they're teenagers. Too young to be at a party or even driving for that matter but definitely way too old to be panhandling at the door for candies. And it's because of that mostly that we stopped taking part in the candy giveaway as of last year. So what we do, or I should say..don't do, is put out a pumpkin, decorate or light up the porch.

Now when I was a kid this was the 'not so secret' code or universal signal, understood by every kid with an empty pillow case, that this house is not interested in you on their doorstep or they have simply 'run out' of candy, goodies, treats and the like. In fact it wasn't even vocalized. The costumed kiddie mob ran directly for the next home with the glowing porch. Well is it just me or was this sacred knowledge not passed on to the next generation? Last year even with our home front in 'total blackout' we had people ringing and knocking for what seemed like minutes at a time. In fact we could hear them mumbling their disapproval at being ignored. At one point I even heard a parental voice instructing their child to "ring again" over and over. Good grief the Play Book or consult with a Village Elder...preferably Pagan.

Okay time to check out todays pic. This was just a bit of experimenting. What do you do with a leftover scoop of concrete and ten minutes? Well, if you have a sand pile you could throw it on top of a few choice pieces of gravel, for teeth, and Birch twigs for hair and you would have a sandcast of, well you'd have a sandcast anyway. It will look even better after seasoning in the garden. Which means moss and lichen and such...honest.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Honkin' Turntable

For those that have read my earlier posts you know that I've been working towards setting up a winter studio in our garage. As I have been planning my space I came to the realization that I'm a bonafide construction junkie. This is probably why I enjoy the sculpting process so much. Working with a hammer and chisel can be exhausting but the results of each 'strike' are immediate. So suffice to say it requires total concentration and focus. But it's been a while since I've done any construction at the old homestead. You know like a deck or shed and this fact was brought to the forefront of my mind recently when a friend of mine told me he had just finished building a new shed and Pergola in his yard. And from what I could gather it wasn't the 'Pergola-in-a-Box' type junk from a big box store but the dig and design as you go with 8 x 8's , concrete footings, backfill and landscaping. In fact I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all week. And this cooler Fall weather isn't helping matters because this is the time of year I love to build outside. I do keep a design notebook (big surprise) on things I eventually plan to build. The 'Silver Tuna' being a full blown studio outbuilding with a live-in loft for Jewel and I and the Goose - with all the trappings of which being my own design. The current garage studio will keep me going for only so long until I have to crack open my notebook to find my next fix. Actually come to think of it I could use another big honkin' turntable hmmm...

For todays pic I'm posting some of the smaller items I sculpt. This group includes a small Hosta leaf with a Rusted finish, a small Hosta leaf with riser legs in a Pewter finish and a low profile dish Planter filled with Hens and Chicks. All were created in concrete and seasoned for at least one year.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Angry Aztec

The weather is now officially getting downright ugly. While on the road today and returning from downtown T.O. Jewel and I encountered some pretty nasty wind and rain. This is not usually a problem as we were in my Dodge Ram which is fairly big and cushy as far as vehicles go but today I was carrying, somewhat precariously I might add, a giant block of styrofoam. Now this block took up the whole truck bed and then some. I found someone on Craigslist disposing of several blocks and I decided to grab what I could for sculpting before they disposed of it as waste. Apparently it had been used as low weight landfill over a below grade building. Now they were excavating and re-engineering the area. My gain whoo hoo. I'm waiting for the weather to calm down so I can take the chainsaw to it and cut it into manageable chunks. This will give me the raw material I need to help me create a new idea I've been planning to start this Winter. I hope to have those pics by next Summer.

Now on to one of last Winters projects. This photo shows a concrete cast that I created originally in clay. It stands around 40 inches tall - quite big. When Summer arrived I moved the clay model from the basement shop to my work area in the garage and created a rubber and fiberglass mold for pouring in concrete. This was my first time building a fiberglass support case and I definitely have much to learn. It worked but I made many rookie mistakes which did affect the cast. I had planned to create this sculpture as a limited production piece in concrete but being somewhat of a perfectionist it might get shelved...which really means it will live out its days in our home garden with all my other experiments and one-offs. Think...'the island of misfit toys'. The finish for this is not complete at the time of the photo but you might be able to see the direction it's going. It will be completed in my 'Rainforest' style finish which is several base colours and washes along with lichen, moss and age spots. I've already done the weathering and 'pitting' to give it that artifact look. He's had several names over the months but looking at him gritting those teeth I settled on the Angry Aztec.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One More Notebook

I am a person that needs to record my thoughts and sketches in notebooks. I keep notebooks on everything. Years ago I'd simply have 'a' notebook but it's gotten to the point I have a notebook for Landscaping ideas and 'a whack' for everything else. I was reminded of this today as I climbed into the cab of my Dodge Ram and sat on some loose paper notes (sketches at a red light no doubt) that were waiting to be 'pasted' into one of my notebooks. If I had to think about it I bet I could find notebooks that reside permanently in almost every room of the house.

This sort of happened gradually over the years. You know when you have a thought or flash of an idea and you want to sketch it that very helps to have a notebook close by. I have one beside my keyboard (obvious) one in the kitchen, one in my studio and on and on. Last night as I settled into bed I grappled for my night table notebook only to discover it wasn't the one I was looking for. Oh horrors. After stepping gingerly over my snoring Bull Terrier I then discovered the correct notebook in the top drawer of my dresser...along with two other forgotten notebooks. They are all somewhat categorized now depending on whether they are for water, rock, sculpture... etc. Years ago I began buying only matching notebooks so they are distinguishable only by the amount of wear to the cover flap. I will sketch until that particular book is full and then start another.

My first notebook of sorts is simply Planter Designs and the like. That was about seven years ago. Since then I've started notebooks to hold ideas on Ferro Cement Sculpture, Sculpted Furniture, Water Features, Faux Bois and so on. Watch for my post on loose paper notes, you know the scribbles and scrawls you steal at red lights, waiting rooms or line-ups at Tims...just kidding. The shot above shows one of my first projects taken from my latest notebook on you guessed it...Lifecasting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brancusi is da man !!!

"Create like a God,

Command like a King,

Work like a Slave."

~ Constantin Brancusi

Don't you just love this guy! The first time I saw this pic I thought the big stone tablet he's sitting on looked like a bed. It's not of course but regardless it always perpetuated the impression that this guy 'lives' his art. Whenever I come across someone like that I'm usually consumed by a mix of envy, admiration and maybe a little intimidation. It's tough to explain but I'm most at home dealing with creative individuals. I find the artsy crowd have a tendency towards distraction and rambling. It's as though their creative process runs in a different 'window' than their logical process and the two have to try and keep in sync...(huh?) Or maybe my rambling is minimized by theirs...(what the hell is this guy talking about?). See what I mean...but anyways it doesn't change the fact that Brancusi is da man !!!

Lake Whatchamucallit

Here I sit scrambling to arrange my day knowing that the clock is always ticking. The weather today is downright rude. Constant winds and colder temperatures. The Goose, who by the way is a great forecaster of weather, has not even gotten off his bed yet. If it's cold or wet outside he will sleep until around 3pm. Who needs the Weather Network.

My new garage studio is still in limbo because I need to save installation room for the insulated garage doors that won't arrive for a few weeks. In the meantime I am planning the most immediate task which is blowing in about 16 inches of insulation over my work space. Once that is done the Gas Contractor will be in for my brand spankin' new heating system. Everything else can be done in the newly heated space - no matter what is happening outside.

Check out this very cool shot. It was taken by Jewel during a girls weekend at the cottage on Lake Whatchamucallit near someplace hours away from here...give or take.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Another day closer to Winter. Our Choke Cherry is losing leaves quickly now all the while carpeting the ground in rich purples. Definitely the tipping point between seasons. Now as the trees begin to thin the overall garden design really has to stand on its own. This is especially true for the front of the house. For my clients that like to entertain during the holiday season I would usually make sure to install some well placed Evergreens and large rocks. These provide great structure, shape and bold winter colour when contrasted against snow. The Evergreens require very little maintenance which makes them ideal if your schedule keeps you from tending to your garden on a regular basis. And the large rocks will provide visual balancing.

When I design a garden I will draw in the rock as per the size and shape I want. If I can't find it I will make it. Yes I sculpt rock - boulders, slabs and large jagged sentry rocks. We have many a boulder not to mention large slab steps in our own landscape. There's something very primal about rock. People will run their hands over it, kids will climb it and pets will bask on it. I am putting together a portfolio of my sculpted landscape rock but for now check out one of my stone carvings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mulch and Reflect

I walked out of the house today into bright sunshine and crisp air. It's time again to bed down the gardens for winter. As much as I hate to accept it we'll be knee deep, actually probably waist deep, in snow within a couple of months. So today I'm setting out to do my Fall pruning and mulching. Many projects did not get off the ground this year due to the huge amount of rainfall this summer. But I can't really complain as the gardens grew by leaps and bounds.

I always think of Fall as my favourite season. Kind of in between too hot and too cold. You get to end your day in the warmth of your home after spending hours working outside. Your senses are bombarded in Fall as well. The wind arrives in fits and starts which adds some rustle to the trees. The leaves are falling and swirling and when the wind changes direction you can catch the smell of a burning fireplace somewhere in the neighborhood and the colder temperatures just seem heighten the effect. And there is aways the new blushes of colour. Also I find it very peaceful. Maybe it's because not many choose to be outside in the cooler weather but I think it also has to do with the fact we tend to reflect on the past few months knowing the next year will soon be here. Having said that I thought this shot of our 'container garden' fit in well. Though not apparent in this photo...all the containers are shallow concrete bowls of varying diameters. I used different coloured sands in the 'dry mixes' to keep them original.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Scratching At The Door

Fall is definitely scratching at the door. It's very gray out there with just a touch of mist. Our Red Maple is changing quickly from green to firey orange. This is the time of year I begin to move indoors to work. I have embarked on a new construction project this month and that is building a studio in my garage. Full insulation, heating system, multiple overhead lights, security, racking...etc. Exhausting but worth it.

For 2009 I plan to have, in addition to my popular items, some new pieces that are currently lurking in my sketchbook. As always weather and work space do play a part in what I can accomplish but there are a few definite directions I'm taking. I am working on a number of sculptured water features as well as larger scale garden sculpts. Time to explore some new territory.

Here's a shot of one of my first planter styles. It's a lightweight concrete blend 16 inches in diameter with a 10 inch opening. It can be made in a variety of colours and surface textures from smooth to very rustic. This one is in our entrance garden and has the very 'rustic' texture - which I prefer. I try to place several accordingly for maximum effect. In Spring we fill them with Wave Petunias and in Fall we plant Mums.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cheeky Chic

It looks like Fall out there today. My Mountain Ash (the first tree to drop) is looking quite bare thanks to the brief windstorm yesterday. Even the Goose wanted 'in' during that one. I did manage some progress though before yielding to the weather. Yesterday was a mushroom day. I sandcast a couple dozen and today I'm to speak. And speaking of... I received this pic a few days back from a customer that purchased this one in the Summer of 2007. It is made of sandcast/carved concrete. A steel spike holds it firmly in place. And here it is residing in their beautiful garden bed in the UK...cheeky chic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This is something new I started over last winter. When I couldn't find anything large enough to carve I decided to form something myself. After much trial and error I ended up handforming a number of concrete columns between 24 and 36 inches tall. While they cured I built myself a turntable capable of handling their weight.

Using a hand-me-down hammer, and a pair of used stone chisels, I carved my first "Booga"...and never looked back. Because each one is hand made there are no two the same. All are sculpted with a hollow in the top that accomodates a six inch potted plant. I've planted them with large Ferns, Coleus, Snake Plant...etc. These look great anywhere. My clients have them in garden beds, patios and on pool decks.

Keep watching my Blog for new designs arriving for Spring 2009.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heavenly Blue

Today it's the morning after yesterday and the day before tomorrow. You of those days when it takes an extra push to find your inspiration. Well this always works for me. I've yet to find anyone that does not fall in love with the sight of the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory.

This one is in our garden.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Fungi Whisperer

Everywhere I go people come up to me on the street and say...Hey! Peter!, how is it you are able to create these wonderful stone delicacies?

"Well", I begin...

Cut To: Dream Sequence with soft Storybook Voiceover.

"It all starts with a custom built honkin' worktable that holds almost five hundred pounds
of blended sand mix".

Insert Shot: Several Dump Trucks backing up.

"It's positioned perfectly, on a northeast by southwest axis..."

Insert Shot: Close-up of Garden Sun Dial.
The shadow grows across its surface in compressed time.

"... under the sheltered reach of a giant Locust tree...that grew from a seed dropped in the poop of a humongous one-eyed man eating prehistoric bird...with a blue beak".

Insert Shot: Giant mangled bird shadow as it glides silently across the ground...Neanderthals grunt and run for an open cave.

"That is where you will find me when the wind, temperature and relative humidity is just so."

Resume Scene:

Peter is sitting in a huge wicker chair wrapped in an Eden-like garden. He's reading from a well worn ancient leather volume. Several animals are gathered at his feet, a pair of Humming birds are hovering on the spot, all listening intently. .

"And that's where I cast and sculpt my world famous mushrooms..."

He now closes the heavy book.

"...The End."

Push-In: to Close-up on book cover. It reads..."THE FUNGI WHISPERER."

Fade Out.
All my mushrooms are two the same. They are a combination of sandcasting and carving. An integrated steel spike keeps them firmly positioned in your garden or planter. I plan to bring around 100 pieces out to the Rose Theatre (Brampton Art Fair) on November 22, 2008 and many times that to the Canada Blooms show in Toronto (Spring 2009).

Tres Funky

I spent the day today working outdoors under our Sunburst Locust tree. Even though the weather is beautiful the leaves are sporadically starting to drop.

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me fluttering from the Autumn tree."
~ Emily Bronte

Great line. And speaking of leaves...this large -24 inch- concrete Gunnera leaf is pictured in a "Pewter" finish. It's also available in "Natural" and I am experimenting with a "Rusted Iron" look. I have plans to sculpt a support column, that looks trunk-like, and cradle this leaf on top as a bird bath. After a rain storm this leaf is party central for birdies. Like the neighborhood hot tub. Tres funky! Problem is I can never keep one around long enough. These find new homes quickly.

Word Of The Day: Undulations

This large 'basin' style leaf is just one of many types, shapes and finishes. For example I've also done large Gunnera, Hosta, Rhubarb and Calla. I try to create them with as many undulations (ooh big word) as possible to catch rain water. The water pools just long enough for the birdies to do their thing but not the mosquitos. This particular concrete leaf is about 20" wide and finished in "Rust."

The Skinny on Brian

All my pieces are handmade and usually available in limited numbers. I like to switch gears often and move in new directions. If there is a photo of something you like drop me a line for more information. The actual piece in the photo might be sold but I will have an idea of when, and if, more will be made.

As for BRIAN, he is a concrete blend, stands about 24" tall is plantable and has been finished in 'Rainforest'. I have Oat Grass growing out of his head in this shot.

Okay, now for my daily tidbit, aka: stuff that the whole world is anxiously waiting to hear...Art In The Open has come to a close for the 2008 season..."bummer". I am now ramping up for the Brampton Art Fair being held in The Rose Theatre on November 22, 2008. Hope to see you there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cold Bird Soup

This particular leaf is probably better described as a bowl. A much smaller Hosta leaf (about 8") in a natural concrete finish. The scallop shape of the Hosta works well as a water bowl. As with the larger basin style leaf this size will hold water long enough for the birds to wash and get a drink...hopefully not in that order.

The Goose loves it for a refreshing pick me up especially after the birds have been washing in it...probably some sort of delicacy in doggy world. Like cold bird soup.

Welcome !!!

Step into my headspace...don't look away. This blog is an introduction to the pieces that I have carved and sculpted. I'll try to keep it light and interesting while at the same time showcasing some of my work. If you read my profile you know that I have designed and built landscapes. This sculpted artwork is simply one extension from that.

As with landscaping weather wreaks havoc with any kind of construction. Sculpting is no least in my case since my sculpting is done outside. But thankfully that is slowly changing more so out of necessity. Too much work and not enough agreeable weather. An indoor studio is in the works.

I work in concrete and stone but that also requires me to touch on various other mediums. My work is all handcrafted and original. Originally I started by sculpting leaves, planters and wall mounted reliefs. Then came the large sculpted plantable heads and carved natural rock.

2009 promises to be the best yet with even larger free standing sculpture for the garden as well as some pretty wild water features. More shows are planned for 2009 as well. I don't want to give too much away yet but hopefully you will follow along with my blog and even drop me a comment now and again.