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VOTIVE STONE & THUNDER & FOG

by Robert Ranieri, 2018

 

Apres' Le Deluge. After several of the Delaware River floods a votive stone was
found and moved by machine and placed near the entry to my front door. Rocks
of varied sizes had been moved before. Large, this one, a quarter ton, of smooth  sandstone, it had been in the river for a thousand years to be so smooth. Even the
missing piece that created an "eye" had been mellowed during its long stay in the
river. Happily my children had climbed over it and also sunned themselves there
of a summer's day.

  Such a special marker found, a river's gift, it had become the stelae for the ages.
Subsequent adjacent areas nearby were developed to accent this boulder.

 

 We may still speak of another 'hundred year' flood. Katrina, year two thousand
and five. The twenty foot height increase had flooded my basement, submerging
a sculpture piece or two. I had been mostly satisfied with my fate. But severe
damage to the local section of the Delaware Canal lead to massive rebuilding of
the canal, meaning a complete redoing of the canal and removal of all of the
dirt and rocks replaced by large precast concrete slabs, precision fit to contain
the canal water.
  My request for some of this tumbled material led to several truck loads of fill.
  I could not believe my good luck. This deposit was more abundant than I had
ever gained before. I knew large rocks would be part of the mix. Sure enough,
as I began to dig, several large rocks emerged, the largest at the top of the high
and long deposit. Consequently, I was to build my design around this top rock.
  There would be no way to move it, but the large rocks on top and adjacent to
it I could. Several large flat ones I could slide to lower levels making a double
staircase. It was necessary to pound the soft soil beneath this large quasi squared
rock with a sledge hammer several times to keep it from settling any more. I also
began to form a kind of podium to reinforce this massive stone, surely weighing
half a ton, one thousand pounds, by inserting smaller semi-flat rocks incased in
concrete.
  Three or four large rocks were moved very gingerly, as in due course I also
began to raise a reinforced concrete with stucco over block wall as containment.
   My fear all along had been, that as I inched the large boulders along, they
would fall or tumble to the ground, and the ground below the long rear sloped
area, knowing that this lower level is circa seven feet below the predominant
level of this sculpted landscape architectural project.
  As usual, the tools used were pick, shovel, sledge hammer, pry bar, and with
an added tool, a two inch wide, five foot long tool steel, crank shaft bar, from
an old style Ford sedan. Several types of small hand tools are always in play;
triangular trowels, rectangular serrated edged steel floats, hammers, and types
of chisels for masonry, including flats and points.
  This massive installation is called Thunder and Fog. It can be seen on my web
site before more work will be done to finish this work.


 

 

 

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LAR