Hooray! The project has reached it's funding goal!
Last night a little after 9 PM, we crossed the finish line to a successfully funded project! Yay!
Ancient anatomical illustrations, brought to life in stone
Using marble, stone and precious gems I am creating a series of 12 mosaics that replicate Bartolomeo Eustachi’s 16th Century anatomical engravings.
In 2005, I noticed that minerals and stone dug from the body of the Earth come in exactly the right colors to portray the interior of the human body. I made a small mosaic torso based on Table 31 of Eustachi's Tabulae Anatomicae.
I’ve been haunted ever since by the desire the render the full illustrations at life size. More than anything, I wondered if it would even be possible to get the level of detail needed to render both the drawing and the underlying anatomy accurately? In 2015, ten years later, I ordered several tons of stone to find out.
I chose Eustachi’s drawings because of their beauty and because their rich colors made them easier to interpret than black and white illustrations. The U.S. National Library of Medicine provided high resolution scans of their 1873 edition of Tabulae anatomicae for me to work from.
The fact these drawings are still accurate and relevant after 465 years feels like they deserve to be immortalized.
This project is about as old-school and analog as you can get. Every stage of both Eustachi’s book and the mosaic series required great attention to detail and work by hand.
The illustrations were drawn at the direction of the surgeon as he dissected an actual corpse, then etched into plates and printed in books made one at a time on a hand operated press. The color in each book was hand painted.
To reproduce them in mosaic, I’m cutting 12” x 12” tiles into strips as thin as 1 millimeter on a wet saw, hand-shaping them with tile nippers, smoothing them on one or more of three diamond lapidary machines. By the time the project is finished, I will have cut between 2 and 3 miles of stone.
Phase One is complete, Phase Two is afoot
I began the project in late 2015 and have completed the first five mosaics. You can see large images of the finished mosaics in this article in Smithsonian Magazine. Number six (Table 38) has just been finished and I will be able to install it as soon the Kickstarter provides funds for frames, mortar and grout.
Each mosaic is seven feet high by four feet wide (86.25″ x 50.25″ including the steel frame) and presents the figures at life size— viewers can stand before them and see anatomy as though looking in a mirror.
The mosaics will make their debut appearance at Carrie Haddad Gallery starting June 12th and running through July 28.
I plan to tour the finished mosaics as a museum exhibit with copies of the original drawings displayed next to the mosaics. The mosaics themselves are not for sale but will be offered as life size prints.
I haven't sought funding before now because I wanted to be able to show proof that these incredibly detailed drawings could be accurately rendered in stone. I had a clear vision, but felt people were more likely to respond if they could see part of the vision realized.
Over the last two years, I’ve invested $41,386.29 on the project (this is the first project I've ever kept detailed expense records for). The vast bulk of stone was all ordered up front to insure consistent color, so the cost of completing the second half will be much, much lower.
To finish the next three mosaics, I need to raise $3110.00 for steel frames, epoxy mortar and grout, and printing the oversize drawings to work from.
The Stretch Goal
If I raise an additional $3615, I will add two more mosaics to the series which detail the skeletal structure. That cost covers steel frames, epoxy mortar and grout, drawings to work from, and black marble for the background.
Originally I didn't plan to do the skeletons because I wasn't confident that I could do them justice in stone— I felt they might be too flat. But I've added to my skill and my palette as I've worked. The most recent mosaic has a lot of exposed bone I've been able to shade beautifully with stone. Look at how much depth, color, lighting and shadow is present in the rib cage below… it's almost 3D and looks more like a painting than a mosaic!
Why should you back this project?
I’ve invested over 41 thousand dollars and at least 4000 hours of labor to bring this project to the halfway point.
- $15839.14 for stone.
- $4463.95 for saws, lapidary machines and other tools
- $4867.24 for consumables and supplies (diamond abrasives, grout, mortar, sponges etc.)
- $14607.22 for services (Installers, frames, printing, movers, photography, writing, video)
In order to continue, I need to raise a relatively small amount of money, but more importantly, I need to find out if there is an audience to support the work.
My hope is to raise enough money that I can take a sabbatical from my Sculptural Firebowls and work full time on these mosaics until the project is complete. That could shave an entire year off the time needed to finish the series.
Since the original mosaics will not be for sale, I'm working with some of the best printers in New York to offer signed and numbered prints in several sizes and different media.
I bring the same attention to detail, perfectionism and regard for quality to the prints that I have used in creating the original mosaics. I've chosen not to offer disposable swag like T-shirts or coffee mugs because they just wouldn't do the images justice.
The prints will be every bit as much a piece of fine art as the original mosaics. In some ways, they're actually better!
Advantages of Vibrachrome prints over the original mosaics
- Each of the mosaics in the series represents 500 to 600 hours of labor. The price I would have to charge for the originals is over $30,000 apiece. A life size print is a bargain at $5000.00.
- The original mosaics weigh between 300 and 350 pounds. The prints on aluminum weigh next to nothing by comparison.
- Mosaics are durable and can last thousands of years, but stone is vulnerable to being scratched or damaged. Vibrachrome prints have a baked on, gloss enamel coating that is extremely durable. Rubbing a coin against it will not scratch it. Perfect for high-traffic public spaces!
- Vibrachrome prints come ready to hang and need no framing, matting or glass (custom framing can often cost more than the art itself).
- Slight variations in the surface of mosaics can make them very difficult to light without glare. The flat surface of the prints makes them easy to light.
A Look at the Rewards
Real Ruby Crystals
All of the eyes for my anatomical mosaics are shaped and polished from raw ruby gems. I buy the rubies in bulk lots so some are either too thin or slightly too small to shape into the eyes. In the picture above you can see a few rubies scattered by the face that is in progress (the irises show the unpolished rubies I have shaped for the eyes). The rubies offered as rewards will range in size between a penny and a quarter (he small ones are thicker and the larger stones are thinner).
Laser Engraved Etchings on Black Marble
The detail that comes through on these laser engravings is remarkable! I feel that they tie in nicely with the mosaics themselves since both have a background of black marble.
Signed Inkjet Print of Mosaic or Etching
A signed, high resolution 13" x 19" inkjet print of any 1 of the 5 finished mosaics. Or your choice of 1 of any of the 14 Illustrations being used in the project. Printed on Cannon photo paper pro luster. More affordable than the Giclée prints below, but probably not archival.
Signed and Numbered Archival Giclée print
A 13" x 19" Giclée print on any one of the five finished mosaics, printed with archival pigmented inks on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl 320 paper. Prints will be signed and numbered in pencil at lower right of image.
Both the 48" x 74" Prints and 24" x 36" Prints of Eustachi Engravings will be printed with UV ink on 45lb matte paper from high resolution scans of the 1873 edition of Tabulae Anatomicae.
Pictured above is one of the work drawings for the mosaics— The prints I ship will not have the additional white space at top and bottom (I use that for positioning the image and making sure the background tile will fit the frame).
The tiles below the drawing are 12" so this photo does give you a good sense of scale. The colors are beautifully robust and the paper is extremely strong and durable (It has to be to survive 3 months on the work table under 1000s of pieces of sharp stone!).
Life Size VibraChrome Print of Mosaic on Aluminum
A life size, signed and numbered Vibrachrome™ archival print reproducing any one of the first five mosaics in the series.
Vibrachrome is an archival dye-sublimation print on aluminum with 1440 dpi print quality. The ink is transferred to the aluminum at 400 degrees, and cools to form a permanent and scratch-resistant coating that will hold up indoors, outdoors and in high-traffic public spaces. All prints include a low profile brace for hanging. Choose which mosaic to print when you fill out your reward survey.
Risks and challenges
The risks for this project are low— all of the rewards are based on the work completed so far, and will be available shortly upon completion of the kickstarter.
The new work I am funding will go much more quickly than the first five mosaics because I've solved all the bigger technical problems, several of which held up work for months at a time.
All of the rewards are sourced from vendors I have thoroughly vetted by ordering proofs and samples, so I know they can be relied upon to deliver exceptional work in a timely fashion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)