The Handling of Materials
It has been estimated that approximately 125,000 sculptures are produced each
year in the United States. If you add sculpture to the number of commercially
produced objects within a year, there comes the realization that we are on the
edge of literally drowning in objects. The ration of people to objects has lost its
balance so that our lives are beginning to feel cluttered by objects. Our system
demands the continuation of the fabrication of objects with a shortened life of
use, and as a result things fall apart before our very eyes.
Where does sculpture fit into this? I think more thought should be given to the
recyclibility of the materials of sculpture.
Not only are we drowning in the debris of broken or un-used objects, but we are
suffocating from the debris in the air, put there as a result of fabrication. Toxic
fumes are released every time materials are altered chemically.
A worker in the arts is generally not aware of all the process change in materials.
He can't afford to hire research assistants, and his nature will lead him to
experiment in areas not yet covered by research.
We should know more about materials. Few ceramists know that dangerous fumes are put into the air
each time clay and glazes are altered. Many artists working with plastics develop kidney stones or
nerve disorders. The chemical alteration in plastic not only puts toxic material into the air, but the
resulting material can't be re-used by the earth's recycling action. Welding, stone cutting, and paint all
release harmful dust and fumes into the air.
Be aware of the consequences of both the working and final outcome of the product. As a stone cutter,
while working, I wear protective clothing, steel-tipped shoes, safety glasses, dust mask, ear-phones to
block out high decible noise, and gloves. If the stone I am working on breaks, or is no longer needed, it
can be returned to the earth. I am always aware of the weights I am working with, up to two tons, and I
have the lifting devices, such as an over head hoist and fork lift. Much of the art being created today is
an industrial situation so the studio must be set up to handle material on that level. Spend the money on
the best equipment and materials. Don't scrimp.
Think out each step with care in the handling of material. The most important and most illusive material
on earth is life, and care should be given to it