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Is Inlay Stonework Carving?


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#1 lopacki

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 11:48 PM

A few days ago Kenneth asked me when I would be putting some of my inlay work on this forum, my reply to him was that I wasn’t sure it fit on a carving forum. I have been thinking about this since then and come to the conclusion that all I do with stone is basically carved in one way or the other.

Firstly I always start out with rough pieces of stone that have to be shaped and formed into my final creation. When I make a strand of beads there are so many steps in the cutting, and removal of stone in shaping that if this is not carving I don’t know what else to call it.

Regarding my inlay work, on every piece I make I have to slice stone to thickness then cut out each individual piece a little oversize, then the hard work begins. I have to meticulously grind each piece so that it fits perfectly next to the other stones in the design. The most difficult stone cuts for a perfect edge match is when there is a curved edge.

I am going to post two old images of my inlay, if you would like to see more of it please reply and I will put more up. The images are from the late 70's of some of my earliest work ,I have been at it for over thirty years now so needless to say I’ve made things much more complicated than this early work. All stone work is done on top of a shell, note even in my earliest work there were curved lines, as time went on I would hand people a 10X eye loupe and ask them to find gaps between the stones, it came to the point that there weren’t any.

Enjoy .......... All my best ............ Danny

P.S. 10-13-10 I called the work I do inlay because it is a generic term used in the market. From day one I always called it mosaic some call it intarsia I guess it is up to the individual.

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#2 kenneth neaves

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 12:02 AM

daniel,if your work is not carvings then mine are not.my carvings are done in pieces and then put together just like yours.you certainly don't wave a magic wand and they just appear out of thin air.from what i have seen on the gem shows even a cab is called a carving now.what everone is raving about now is a stone of any kind with some lines cut on it.check out farlang.com and you will see what i mean.best regards,ken

#3 WayneT

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 01:35 AM

Very cool!!

I've just completed a piece with inlaying a mosaic of Mother of pearl and I know how hard that was to do and it was no were as good as what you have done.

How long does it take to Finnish a piece?

Thank you for showing this great work!

Cheers

Wayne

#4 lopacki

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 03:53 PM

Wayne,
The two pieces I have posted are of very early work so they took more time than some of my later work that was more involved, just a guess on these older pieces I'd say around forty hours each. I have some pieces that I have done that have in excess of 200 hours, I will post more of the shell mosaics soon, once I show the highlights of them I will post some other items I've made over the past thirty two years.


All my best ....... Danny

Image below is of the first shell I ever did vintage 1978

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#5 WayneT

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 07:21 PM

Hello Danny,

Thanks for the reply, how do you get the fit on your stone so tight, do you have any tricks that you can share that would help a novice out? Both in the best ways of fitting the shell and what you use to glue it in?

The Mother of pearl on the White faced Heron took me a long time, cutting each piece checking the fit, adjusting, checking the fit and gluing in. I spent half the time crawling around the carpet looking for the pieces that had flicked out of my hand that I had been working on for the last 30min!

I look forward to seeing your other work!

Cheers

Wayne

#6 lauri

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 07:34 PM

Hei Wayne, as I see it this is not a carving, but I would be very pleased if I could have half of your accuracy in my own works. So lets name it carving when we don't have a better name for it . That way I can proudly call my works also carvings . Everybody or at least I win ! Lauri

#7 lopacki

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 10:19 PM

Wayne,
You have said it well “cutting each piece checking the fit, adjusting, checking the fit and gluing in”, then if you don’t like the fit, pull it out and try again!!

I use many tools, my main roughing is done on a homemade flat lap, I use it to get as near the final shape as possible. I then usually use diamond burrs in a Foredom to finish all of the curves for the perfect fit, if need be I also use diamond needle files. I do the same thing as you cut, check, cut again check as many times it takes to assure me that the fit is right.

Early on I used epoxy for gluing but found it will discolor over the years to yellow so now on most of my projects I use super glue and have for years. I have had many people tell me super glue will not last for years, I beg to differ the fish image above was done with super glue roughly thirty years ago and as far as I know its still exactly as when finished. The main thing to consider when using super glue ........ All surfaces must touch each other as close as possible .... Needless to say I even cut a curve on the backside of each stone prior to gluing it to the shell. If you are inlaying into porous material (wood and such) use a good clear drying epoxy.

Talk about losing a just cut piece on the floor. I was polishing a finished shell once in the living room (no shop at the time), the buffing wheel caught the piece and it just plain disappeared. About two hours later I found it inside a shoe that was on the floor.

To show the changes in my work over the years the image below is of the same fish design as above but done four years later with much harder and more precious material. This shell is done with white and red coral, lapis lazuli, Nevada turquoise and finished off with an opal eye. Sorry the image is so poor, early on I did a poor job of documenting my work with photos. To give you an idea of how many stones go into a complicated design like this just the fish has just over 100 individually cut stones.

Hope I have been of some help ......... All my best ..... Danny

P.S. All the beads are 100% hand cut ........ or should I say carved.

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#8 WayneT

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 07:30 PM

Hello Danny,

Dam I was hopping for a silver bullet, well it's back to perseverance, patience and practice!!

The fish is great I'm just amazed with the fit of the stones I like the design as well and getting the circle for the eye so perfect must have been very time consuming.

Thanks for the advice!!

Cheers

Wayne

#9 lopacki

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:54 PM

Wayne,
Here is the silver bullet for making perfectly round stones, this is from my website under tips from Daniel.

ROUND CAB MADE EASY
Over the years I’ve had to laugh inside when someone complained how hard it was to make a nice perfectly round cab with an even dome. I solved this problem years ago when making tiny round gemstone eyes for ivory carvings I was making.

I super glued the tiny piece of stone onto the end of a finishing nail. Once the glue set I chucked the nail in my #30 Foredom hand piece, I hung the Foredom close to my grinding unit. With the Foredom and grinding machine turned on I just slowly moved the rotating stone into the rotating wheel and in no time had a perfectly round tube. I then used a diamond file to shape the tiny dome required.

From this point forward if I ever needed a round cab, I’d just find the nail that suited my needs, cut it to length for the Foredom, glue my stone to it and had my round cab in no time. I have made round cabs in all sizes at this point, you can actually round and dome your stone then hit it on the 600 belt without ever turning the Foredom or your machine off. On large stones it is best that you rough round the stone a little prior to spinning it in the handpiece.

Wayne,
If you are wanting to make a tube for an eye or such. Drill your hole and then do what I have said above until your tube is very slightly smaller than the hole. You can release the stone from the nail by soaking it in acetone or if you hold the stone in you fingertips heat the nail with a lighter and prior to the stone getting to hot the nail will fall free from the stone. I have used the heating even with Opal and never cracked a stone.

All my best ......... Danny

Description of shell below

Again using few colors a very striking design .

Red Coral, Nevada "Fox" Turquoise, Chalcosiderite and Lapis.

The Beads were Red Coral, Turquoise, Lapis and Chalcosiderite I believe the length was 28 inches.

The back of the silver work is set with a Red Coral mosaic panel.

This shell was produced in early 1984. You will notice that this looks like solid red coral, it's hard to believe that there are probably more that fifty separate pieces of coral on the face of this shell.

If you look closely at the lizard it took over 100 pieces of stone to make up this pattern.

At this time in my career I was producing the finest shell mosaic I was to do.

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#10 WayneT

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 01:48 AM

Incredible work Danny!

I'm very impressed in how the fit is so good it looks like just one piece.

Thanks for sharing the advice it makes a lot of sense and it will save a lot of time. I look forward to putting it into practice.

Once again thanks for showing your work and sharing your advice.

Cheers

Wayne

#11 polymita

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 06:10 PM

Dear fellows: Answering this question related to if is inlay stonework a carving let me tell you that YES because the artist must cut-carve inside and in the materials to make all the pieces fit toghether, a very hard work sometimes and also difficult depending on the design. Some glyptic artists of Pietre Dure use the mosaic technique mixed with low and high reliefs works, making more complex the process and showing a better degree of skills. The native american tradition of mosaics using seashells as Spondylus or Mother of Pearl, or semiprecious stones as Turquoise or Malaquite, or even other materials is very old in all America, specially on US, Perú and México for example. These artists are definitely carvers and without a carving skill they couldn´t make propper beads or inlays without any doubt. Inlay stones or seashells is a precise and difficult task when desings are complex, and the hardness of the shells and stones is another problem to solve sometimes because you are using soft and hard materials, many that requieres different ways of sanding-polishing, so I respect so much this mosaic artists, from the very humble and simple peruvian artisan to the skillful US navajo artist from US. I like the works showed here on this post and I hope to see every time more stuff like this...sincerely yours...ADRIÁN

#12 polymita

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 06:11 PM

Dear fellows: Answering this question related to if is inlay stonework a carving let me tell you that YES because the artist must cut-carve inside and in the materials to make all the pieces fit toghether, a very hard work sometimes and also difficult depending on the design. Some glyptic artists of Pietre Dure use the mosaic technique mixed with low and high reliefs works, making more complex the process and showing a better degree of skills. The native american tradition of mosaics using seashells as Spondylus or Mother of Pearl, or semiprecious stones as Turquoise or Malaquite, or even other materials is very old in all America, specially on US, Perú and México for example. These artists are definitely carvers and without a carving skill they couldn´t make propper beads or inlays without any doubt. Inlay stones or seashells is a precise and difficult task when desings are complex, and the hardness of the shells and stones is another problem to solve sometimes because you are using soft and hard materials, many that requieres different ways of sanding-polishing, so I respect so much this mosaic artists, from the very humble and simple peruvian artisan to the skillful US navajo artist from US. I like the works showed here on this post and I hope to see every time more stuff like this...sincerely yours...ADRIÁN

#13 Jamie LS

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 02:37 PM

Hello all,
hey Danny how are you? Hmmm I feel so ignorant, I had no idea how extremely talented you are, I must have missed that part on your site. I think it's definately carving. With a lot more patience involved. Have you covered anything else with your inlay carving? Anything with an uneven surface?
To me, carving is a large genre(?) of art, and inlay would be a sub-genre.
Do you have any photos of the most challenging work you have done?
Thanks, loving the inspiration.

Jamie

#14 lopacki

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 04:02 PM

Jamie,
Thanks for the comment. If you go to this link you can see my art work http://www.lopacki.com/art/ there are four sections "stone mosaic shells" "silver" "carving" "high karat gold".

I've been at it since 1978 and got side tracked by the diamond tool business for quite a few years, at this time I'm nearly done with building a new studio and then its back to making beautiful things as a mostly full time thing for the rest of my life.

I have done pieces that have both flat and raised stones in the same piece, I have an image of the last "southwestern piece" I did some years ago but still need to scan it and put it on my site. I have attached a piece I made about fifteen years ago ............. No glue all hammer set stones.

Thansk again for the kind comment ............ All my best ........ Danny

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#15 Stephan A

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:45 PM

Hello, are you Daniel Lopeki? Well that aside your work is beautiful. My passion to start learning the art of intarsia was through the americanmastersinstone site http://www.americanm...e.com/index.htm. The work presented there encompasses freestanding "sculpture" jewelry boxes, table tops and the classic pictoral or geometric designs.Divisions over differences in method and output are divisive to my thinking. Was the Last Supper a painting or relegated to some lesser category because it used fresco technique generally considered an architectural decorative art? I'm just beginning to match stone to stone attempting seamless joining and if its not carving I couldn't say what is. If one added bas relief elements to an intarsia would it then be a sculpture, carving or be relegated to some obscure also ran category such as intarsia has in the 20th century. My self I am pleased as punch to see anybody willing to create beauty and try to reveal some of who they are and who we might be beyond the superficialities of day to day life. My vote is YES intarsia is carving. BTW: beautiful work Mr. Lopecki

#16 Tom Edward

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 08:32 PM

Hey Lopecki, thanks for sharing these images, and yes this is carving, it might not be 2 or 3dimensional but very well done! I love this type of inlay and this tradition, and you excel at it , thank you once again.

#17 lopacki

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 11:47 PM

Thank you both for your comments regarding my work.

I just joined a lapidary forum and see they have an intarsia area, When first starting I did and still do mostly mosaic rather than intarsia. I may take a mosaic piece and set it in metal work but it is still a mosaic. I rarely inlay into the actual metal work. .................. It is spelled Lopacki.

Below is a bracelet I made in about the mid 90's this could be called intarsia. The stones were finished prior to being put in each channel. I bought this bracelet back at this years Tucson show when someone walked into our room offering it for sale, I had forgotten it as many times I did not get images of what I was making.

All my best ... Danny

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#18 Tom Edward

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:14 PM

Hey There LOPACKI, once again thanks for this, just very well done and really amazing. Thanks again.



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