Thursday, June 4, 2009

Earthen Sculpture on the Ithaca Commons

As past of the 'Art in the Heart of the City' program this year, I was selected to create a sculpture on the Downtown Ithaca Commons. I created a sculptural bench that doubles as a play structure for kids. I constructed it during the annual Ithaca Festival and hundreds of people got to witness the building process.
"Yes, this thing is made from clay, sand and straw"
the site before

Bringing adobe bricks I made the week before

A special pass to drive on the pedestrian mall!

The foundation stones set

The arches formed

Adding sculptural cob to tie the arches together

Reinforcing butresses

Kids love it already!

Making cob
with my mom!

More kids get involved

underside of the arches before plastering

Starting the reclaimed tile mosaic

purple plaster!

Andrew, my faithful Ithacan building partner, enjoying the bench

Yes, arches are strong, even when made of mud!

the finished piece


  1. Totally cool! We might have to try something like this...

  2. Um, how do you keep pumping out such delightfully skilled beautifulness? This project is awesome. I adore you.

  3. Wow I was just looking at it today then bumped into it on the internet as I was looking at sculptures on the interwebs. It's really kick-ass -reminds me of a sculpture I saw in San Diego did you do one there too? Very inspiring, thank you so much! :)

  4. This work is very inspiring, reminds me of Gaudi in some way. I would be very interested to know which material was used to seal the mosaic, is it natural plaster? I Was wondering if it will resist natural elements, as it is staying outside. Congratulations, I can't stop going back to your websites and blogs, very inspiring!

  5. yes, i used a natural grout: clay, sand, very fine chopped straw and linseed oil. Normally, I would use the linseed oil at about 1% of the total mixture, but here I pushed it a bit, probably closer to 5%. Once it was totally dry, I did another top coat of straight linseed oil. The sculpture show only goes until Novemeber, so I am not too worried about it, but it will be interesting to see how it fares the Ithaca winter.