To create my sculptures, I use hand tools. On very rare occasions, when it is necessary to remove large amounts of material to arrive at a basic shape, I will use power tools. But, the actual shaping, refining and final finish is always produced with hand tools. I work by hand because I feel it puts me in touch physically and emotionally with the essence of the material in which I am working. Also, I know if I am working by hand, it is going to take me a long time to create a work of art. I believe that realization forces me to slow down and take my time while manufacturing the finished product. That awareness compels me to not hurry and to be more patient and exacting.
My completed work is refined and finished beyond what the human eye can normally see. When working, I wear magnifying goggles while using small hand tools. Sometimes I make my own tools because there are no available commercial implements that will allow me to create some of the difficult angles and details I take great pleasure in producing.
I like the challenge of pushing various materials to their limit, forming them either very thin, or into demanding shapes that are not normally attempted.
As I sculpt a piece, again and again I look carefully at it from every possible angle to make sure each line or surface is as straight, evenly curved, or smooth as possible. I do not want any bumps, ridges or uneven areas. As I bring a piece to completion, I close my eyes and lightly run my fingertips over all surfaces, feeling for irregularities which my eyes, aided with magnifying glasses, may have not detected. If I discern anything unsatisfactory, I carefully reshape and smooth it to my high standard.
The final polishing is extremely painstaking and time consuming. After the surface has been meticulously smoothed with exceptionally sharp tools, I sand it with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. The 400 grit is followed by 600 grit, then 1,000 grit and finally with 2,000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. I use the 400 grit sandpaper to form the final shape, removing extremely small amounts of material, almost as one might use a super fine file. Frequently, as I polish a sculpture, I will discover uneven areas. I then rework those sections and go through the entire polishing process once more.
Usually my sculptures incorporate undercuts that are only the thickness of a sheet of paper. Imagine sanding and polishing into those sharp undercuts, as well as into numerous small holes and difficult angles, using a tiny piece of sandpaper held with your fingertips. Often, I must make diminutive custom tools onto which sandpaper can be attached in order to get into hard to reach areas. Hand sanding to a polish can take 50 to 100 or more hours to complete.
When carefully observing my sculptures, you will notice that even the bottoms and other unseen areas, as well as the smallest hard to reach regions are smooth and finished to a polish.
My desire is to make my finished piece of art absolutely as perfect as I am able, and to that end, I will rework a piece over and over. Some of my sculptures evolve over several years and take as much as 2,000 hours to complete.