Sculpture Blog

See how sculpture is made. This Blog discribes how Mark made some of his sculptures, what sculpture techniques were employed, and what art materials were used.

When you look at a sculpture you will now have an understanding and appreciation of what went into creating the sculpture. And it is interesting just to see how things are made.

Wolf Spring Horses

Drawing for sculpture

I was commissioned to design and fabricate two horses for the entrance of a new housing development in Scottsdale.      

Sculpture armature

I started by creating a life-size drawing to use as reference. Next, I built an armature to support the horse. 

Fabricating the sculpture

While the horses were to be painted, I decided to use stainless steel to prevent rusting.

Fabricating the horse

Fabrication is near completion.

Nearly finished

The horses were painted with the designated color scheme.  

Horses installed

The horses were installed with the help of a crane truck.   

Marble sculpture front

The finished sculpture.

Marble sculpture side view

Side view.

Marble Sculpture

Clay maquette

Clay maquette.

The marble block

Roughing out the block.

Rough carved

Beginning to take shape.

Back side and tools

Back view.

Nearly finished

Near finished.

Detail view

Detail view.

Marble sculpture front

The finished sculpture.

Marble sculpture side view

Side view.


Sculpture drawing

The sculpture design drawing.

I was commissioned to create a sculpture for the new Elements Hotel Scottsdale at Skysong. I submitted several drawings and after one was chosen, I made a small urethane foam model. I welded the individual stainless steel parts and began the placing them together.

Fabricating the sculpture

Fabrication begins. Note the urethane foam model.

Installed sculpture

The sculpture installed.

Sculpture installed.

Here is the sculpture in front of the hotel.


Sculpture drawing

I was commissioned by the town of Sunnyslope AZ to create a public art sculpture to be placed on a street corner.     

Internal structure

The sculpture is 12 feet tall and fabricated out of stainless steel.  I added ribs to the internal structure for strength.

Bottom view of sculpture

Here is a view of the 1/2" stainless steel base plate. The fabrication is nearly done and a texture pattern has been applied to the surface. 

Top view of sculptrue

The center two pieces were taken to a mirror finish.

Marble sculpture

Here is the finished sculpture waiting for installation.

Stainless Steel Sculpture

Stainless Steel Sculpture

This stainless steel sculpture is a commission for a private residence in Henderson NV.

Stainless Steel Sculpture

The stainless steel was polished to a mirror finish.

Clamping parts together

The sculpture was to be 11 feet tall, so an additional piece had to be welded on to the 8 foot sheet of metal.The seam was then welded together.

Fabricating stainless steel

All the different parts for the sculpture were first drawn in the computer, then cut out with a water jet. The computer drawn parts were the best way to make sure everything would fit together. Parts were clamped together and tack welded.

Internal structure of sculpture

Ribs were added to provide structural strength to withstand wind load on the tall sculpture.

Polishing stainless steel

Finishing stainless steel to a mirror polish was a new experience for me. It started with a 120 grit sanding disc on a grinder, followed by the medium, then fine Scotch Bright pads. For the final steps I purchased a variable speed grinder so that the polishing could be done at slower speeds.

Polishing compounds were then applied to felt pads on the grinder. This began to bring out the shine. For the final step, I added a paste wax to protect the metal from finger prints and the environment.

Marble Vortex

Marble sculpture

Marble Vortex, Colorado Marble, Aluminum, 26"x18"x6".

Private residence, Scottsdale AZ.


Wrought iron and stainless steel sculpture

Infinity, Wrought Iron, Stainless Steel, Steel, 76"x42"x16".

Private residence, Phoenix AZ.


Stainless steel Angel

The design of this stainless steel sculpture is the result of collaborating with the homeowner to arrive at a unique sculpture that was meaningful to them.

Stainless steel Angel

The sculpture was installed next to the pool. For the lower part of the sculpture, a wavy texture pattern was applied. The top "J" shape was finised to a high polish.

Oragami Peace Cranes

Stainless steel Mandala

Peace Crane Mandala  ©

Stainless Steel, Wrought Iron, Steel


Private collection, Cave Creek, AZ.

Peace Crane Ascent

Peace Crane Ascent  ©

Stainless Steel, Wrought Iron, Steel


Private collection, Cave Creek, AZ.

Liturgical Sculptures

Sculpture drawing

St. Austin Church in Austin Texas commissioned me to carve two statues for their church. The statues were to be 5 feet tall, and carved in basswood. I began by submitting drawings of each saint, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Phoebe.

Clay model

After making some design changes to the drawings, I made half-size clay models of each figure. I could then take measurements from the models which would then be transfered to the wood carvings.


Three inch thick basswood boards were glued and clamped together. It was a long process. Only two boards at a time were glued together to ensure good joints. The block got heavier as more boards were added.

The Block

When the block was ready to carve, the figure was roughly drawn on, and the high points marked.

Roughing out

Roughing out begins. Large shapes were defined and surface planes established. Large 'U' gouges were used to establish the large shapes. Large piles of wood chips were on the floor. Acurate measurements from the clay model help place the features in the correct place.

Roughing out figures

As details became more defind, smaller gouges were used and smaller wood chips hit the floor.

Measuring tools

Here are some of the measuring tools used to make the enlargment from the clay model to the wood carving. They range from digital calipers for small details to large proportional calipers, which are set to a 1-2 ratio.

Finished figures

The figures are carved and the hands and feet added as separate pieces.

St Phoebe

Detail of St. Phoebe. The right hand was carved as a separate piece and attached.

St Mary Magdala

Detail of St. Mary Magdalene. Her left hand was carved as a separate piece.

Phoebe close up

Detail view of St. Phoebe's face.

Mary close up

Detail view of St. Mary Magdalene's face.

Stainless Steel Figure

Layout drawing

Here is the computer drawing, the urethane maquette, and the layout on Masoinite.


The Masonite is cut out and will be used as templates to cut out the stainless steel.

Plasma cutting

Cutting out parts with a plasma cutter.

Trial fit parts.

Trial fitting parts.

Stainless steel sculpture

The finished sculpture installed.

Metal sculpture

The sculpture is at a private residence in Paradise Valley, AZ.

Rebar Bike

Rebar bike

This was an interisting commission, make a bicycle out of rebar
for a corporate office in Phoenix.

Rebar bike

Creating "Knot"

I was commissioned to create a limestone and steel sculpture for a Sheraton Hotel in Pleasanton CA. The video follows the step-by-step process of making the sculpture.

Knot, Limestone and Steel

Knot, Limestone and Steel

(First frame is black)

Pool Screen

Design drawing

I was asked by a home owner in Las Vegas to create a sculpture that would extend across the front of a water feature above a pool. The drawing was made actual scale in the computer so that I knew that it would fit the length of the water fall.

Stainless steel parts

I have a handheld plasma cutter, but the water jet cuts much
more accurately, and without any clean up and grinding afterwards.

Sculpture installed

The sculpture installed.

Creating a Wall Sculpture

Wall Sculpture

Here is the process in creating a
Forton MG and steel wall sculpture.

Clay modle

The first step is to create the model
with oil based plastiline clay.

Add clay wall

Shims were added to divide the model into three sections. A clay wall was built around the model to define the edge of the mold.

Pour rubber mold

A mold release was sprayed onto the clay. The urethane rubber was then poured on top of the clay.

Rubber mold inside

The rubber mold was removed from the clay model. Mold release was added to the surface of the rubber so the Forton MG would not stick.

Fiberglass mother mold

A fiberglass mother mold was added to the back of the rubber mold so it would keep it's shape. Plastic tubes assist handeling.

Add Forton MG

Forton MG was spread into the mold. Fiberglass fibers were added for additional strength.

The casting

The Forton was removed from the mold and the sections adhered together with more Forton.

Metal frame

A steel frame was added to the back of the sculpture. It acted as a support, a mounting system, and a design element.

Sculpture installed

Avondale Birds

I was awarded a commission to create a 15 foot tall, steel and marble, sculpture for the Town of Avondale AZ. The sculpture will be placed in front of the Civic Center. Installation date is planned for November.

The sculpture consists of four steel columns with abstract bird shapes at the top. I ordered the marble cut to the required dimensions from the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Vermont.

Avondale Birds presentation

Avondale Birds presentation drawing.

Setting columns Adding last column

Setting up the steel columns.

Welding columns together

Welding everything together. Stainless steel plates will bolt the stone onto the columns.

Carving marble

Carving the marble.

The columns are made of mild steel and will have a rust patina. The columns range in size from 10 1/2' to 14 1/2' in height, and will be welded on to a 4'x4'x3/4" steel base plate. The marble shapes will be bolted on to the columns with stainless steel plates. This will keep rust from getting on the white marble.

Below is a video of the carving process involved in sculpting the marble birds. After the carving part was finished, the carvings were polished with a pneumatic center water feed polisher and diamond polishing pads.

Crane truck

A crane was need...

Setting the sculpture

to set the steel columns in place.

Marble carvings

Each marble piece had 6 bolts.

Installing stone

The crane lifted each marble piece...

Installing stone

and they were bolted on to stainless steel plates.

The finished sculpture

The finished sculpture installed.

Limestone Inverted Mobius


I received a commission to sculpt a Mobius Variation in limestone. I split the block with slips and wedges to get the correct proportions.

Drawing on stone

I started by drawing the design on the front and back of the block. I've carved shapes like this before, so I didn't feel I needed a maquette.

First stage

The basic shape was roughed out with a 7" diamond saw and a point chisel. A hammer drill created the honeycomb holes that helped in carving out the hole in the center.

Second stage

As I got closer to the final form, I used the 4 1/2" diamond saw with a flush cut blade that wasI uses for shaping.

A pneumatic hammer and tooth chisels were used to do the carving.

Side view

The bottom of the block was left on during carving and removed a the end.

Texture was applied to the inside oval with a tooth chisel. The outside egdes were sanded smooth to 400 grit with a diamond pad.

The finished sculpture

A separate base was added using glue and stainless steel pins.

The sculpture was placed in a corprorate office building in Phoenix.

Noguchi Museum

I was looking through my photographs of a visit a few years ago to Isamu Noguchi’s studio in New York City, now a museum, and remembered that, as I entered, how I was immediately struck by the sense of calm and peace that came over me as I walked into a garden graced with his stone carvings.  The aura of the stone sculptures was tangible.

Noguchi Museum garden

Noguchi Museum garden

Deepening Knowledge

Deepening Knowledge

To Darkness

To Darkness

Noguchi is my favorite sculptor.  He worked in stone, hard stone – granite, basalt.  Stone born from the core of the earth, stones that will last for eons.  Granite is hard.  It resists the carver.  I like the fact that he made stone his primary media in which to work. Noguchi did not try to overpower the stone, to force it into a predetermined shape.  He worked with the shapes and characteristics of each stone, letting the stone guide his carving. It was a conversation with the stone, not dictating, but adding his thoughts in collaboration with the stone. His thoughts melding with the granite, to live on for a very long time.

“Rock itself is very fundamental. It is within the ecological continuum of the world. I’m afraid that a lot of sculptures will be considered a kind of pollution, like tin cans, because they don’t belong. Whereas rocks belong, I mean even more than you or I. They know how to go just the way they are supposed to go, back into the earth.“   Isamu Noguchi

Indian Dancer

Indian Dancer

The Seeker Sought

The Seeker Sought

The Well

The Well

Renee Taylor Gallery

The Renee Taylor Gallery in beautiful Sedona, AZ has begun exhibiting my horse sculptures. The gallery is across the street from the quaint Tlaquepaque Village shops.

We love visiting Sedona, which is surrounded by spectacular red cliffs and huge sculptural rock formations. An enjoyable afernoon can be spent wandering through the shops in Tlaquepaque Village, and of course, vueing the art work at the Renee Taylor Gallery.

Steel horse

How to Carve Marble

Here are two videos on carving marble.
For more information on tools and carving techniques visit the Stone Carving Tutorials.

Stainless Steel and Cast Glass Sculpture

I’m adding the finishing touches to a stainless steel and cast glass sculpture. The upward swirling spiral motion of the stainless steel is a theme I have returned to several times. The one inch thick cast glass circles add some color and a nice translucent quality to the shinny stainless steel.

Stainless steel and glass
Mark and sculpture

Welding a Steel Horse

After sculpting the two nine foot tall horses in shiny stainless steel for the Cave Creek Monuments, I became interested in the horse as sculptural form. I decided to sculpt another horse. This one is in mild steel and will be painted black.

The process started with my original drawing on letter-size paper. The drawing was then scaled up using a grid system of 1/2 ”= 6″. Once the drawing is enlarged, design changes were needed to make work with the larger size. I reworked the enlarged drawing and changed the shapes of some of the parts.

Actual size drawing
Tourch cutting

With tracing paper, I traced each shape from the large drawing. The traced shapes were then transfer to Masonite board. The Masonite shapes were cut out on the band saw, and used as templates for cutting out the thick leg parts with an oxy-acetylene torch. The thinner body shapes were cut out with a plasma cutter.

For structural strength, the legs were cut from 3/4″ steel. Half-inch round steel rod was shaped to define the outer profile of the body. Any rough edges were taken off with a grinder.


The cut steel parts were bent to shape, then tack welded into place. If they didn’t look quite right, they were removed, reshaped, and repositioned. The overlapping shapes provided the structural strength for the upper body.

I painted the ‘inside’ of each shape before attaching them. Once the whole body is assembled, I won’t be able to get in and paint the inside, or the overlapping parts.

The sculpture is starting to take shape. I redrew the design for the head several times, until I was happy with it. The next step is to cut out the parts for the other side of the body, and weld them on… and keep working on the designing the head.

Nearing completion


Black Stallion sculpture

The steel horse sculpture is completed. It is primed and painted a flat black. The dimensions are 62″x72″x20″.

Rodin at the Legion of Honor Museum

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I visited the Legion of Honor Museum and was impressed by the large room filled with sculptures by Auguste Rodin. As I walked into the room, I was immediately struck by the power of a single bronze hand. The fingers were gnarled and twisted, like the roots of a tree. The wrist straining, tendons bulging, with some unknown anguish. As I looked at it, I could envision a writhing torso. The single hand expressing the anguish that a whole figure could not.

Hand sculpture
Portrait bust

There were also two portraits. One, a bronze, with deep sunken eyes that captivated your attention. Having carved faces in wood, I studied how Rodin modeled the face. How he sculpt the eyes and mouth. The eyes were deep set. The brow protruding. It was a master class in portraiture.

In a side isle was a glass case with a delicate and touching portrait of Camille Claudel. It was the plaster model. She is wearing a Phrygian Cap, an artistic representation of freedom and liberty. I always like seeing the plaster versions of bronze sculptures, they seem closer to the original vision of the sculptor. Unlike the dramatic expression of the bronze portrait, this was sensitive and introspective. A quiet moment in what would later become a tortured relationship for Camille.

Camille portrait

There were other bronzes, small studies for the 'Burghers of Calais',
to the full-size 'Thinker', but it was the small sculptures, the studies,
that gave me a deeper insight into Rodin.

The Thinker
Burgher plaster

Cave Creek Monuments

South Monument

South Monument

North Monument

North Monument

For several years I had been thinking about creating a sculpture for my new home town of Cave Creek. I was excited when I heard that the Town Manager had announced a proposal for the Cave Creek Monuments Competition.

Cave Creek is an old copper mining town. It takes its name from a large cave along a creek. The cave was once inhabited by Hohocam Native Americans (there are a few of their petroglyphs there) and later by the U.S. Calvary (there to chase the Native Americans). Cave Creek is still a very Western town with a long tradition of horsemanship.

We have our home in Cave Creek and my studio is located near the center of town. We moved here five years ago from Buffalo NY and feel that we are quickly becoming part of the town.

When people think of Cave Creek, the images that come to mind are ‘a bit of the Old West’, and horses. Cave Creek is an eclectic mix of the old and the new; rustic and contemporary. While the town has the traditional flavor of the West, modern day influences also enrich the town. It is the mix of these two aspects that make Cave Creek so colorful and interesting.

I tried to capture an impression of both of those aspects by the choice of materials and the design concept. Rust-colored steel and natural sandstone depict the rougher, historic side of the town, and shiny stainless steel and contemporary design hints at the more modern influences.

The competition’s call to artists was open to the whole country. There were seventeen entries, that were then narrowed down to eight. At the Town Council meeting, the Councilmen narrowed it down farther, finally choosing my proposal.

The project consisted of creating two identical monuments, one for each entrance to the town. My design was for a horse rearing up on its hind legs and standing on a four foot tall rusty-steel and stone base. The horse is fabricated out of stainless steel and stands nine feet in height. The monuments are thirteen feet tall.

The monuments are located on Cave Creek Road at either entrance to the town. One is located on Cave Creek Road a half mile south of Carefree Highway. The other one is at the north entrance coming into town from Carefree, near Stagecoach Village.

The horses are fabricated out of 304 stainless steel. Due to the sculpture’s height and the high winds we sometimes get, wind load capacity had to be considered when engineering the strength of the armature. The ribbon shapes were cut out with a plasma cutter and welded in place with a MIG welder and 308 stainless steel wire. From striking the first arc for welding to the final dedication, the project took six and a half months.

To see the step-by-step process of making the monuments, from design concept to installation and dedication, please visit my web site at ww There is a link on the left side navigation bar at the bottom for the Cave Creek Monuments page, or just click Cave Creek Monuments.

Back to Top