The Creation of “Kelp & Oyster Shell”

• public art collection, Sea Lion Point Lodge and Spa, Sonora Island, BC, Canada

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada limestone marble oyster shell kelp frond sonora island sea lion point lodge

In the spring of 2006, Michael Binkley secured a commission for a large sculpture depicting an oyster shell suspended in fronds of bull kelp for a luxury resort on Sonora Island, BC, Canada.

At left is Binkley’s conceptual sketch for the kelp fronds, but the shell is missing. This is because during the collaboration stage, the image of a sea otter, a sea lion and an oyster shell were being considered for suspension in the kelp. At right, the artist stands beside the 6 foot tall block of limestone in his North Vancouver studio. The block was originally even larger, but Binkley split an 18 ” piece off and you can see the bottom of that piece that lays horizontally to the left of the sculpture block. This smaller piece later became the sculpture, “Awakening.”

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada limestone marble oyster shell kelp frond sonora island sea lion point lodge

 

Left, Binkley used a water cooled diamond bladed angle grinder to cut frets in the limestone which he broke off using a hammer and pitching chisel. This method is a fast, non-physically taxing way to remove large amounts of bulk stone. Right, the sculptor uses pneumatic hammer and chisels to shape the forms of the sculpture and here you can see the kelp fronds begin to emerge from the stone block.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada limestone marble oyster shell kelp frond sonora island sea lion point lodge

As Binkley continued to carve, the heavy limestone block slowly transformed into a visually and physically lighter art work. Using various types of chisel blades, the sculpture changed from rough, blocky lumps into graceful, undulating curves.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada limestone marble oyster shell kelp frond sonora island sea lion point lodge

 

Binkley finally used various abrasive sanding disks to smooth the final surfaces of the kelp fronds and the interior of the oyster shell. He contrasted the outside of the oyster shell with a fine file finish that is slightly rough. Finally, Binkley carved the base of the sculpture to emulate a rock from which the kelp grows. This allows for the sculpture to be free standing and the base is wide enough to counter cantilever.

Michael Binkley