Installing Marble Sculptures

Originally written on October 25, 2006

How on earth are you going to get that two-ton marble sculpture into the church?

Very carefully, my friends! First, you collaborate with an expert sculpture installation team. In this case, we worked with Andrew Logan of Canal Street Studios.

Somehow I was put in charge of pulling the chain to lift two tons of marble.

How many people does it take to move a two-ton sculpture of the Blessed Virgin out of the studio, onto a truck, drive sixty-five miles down the road and into a niche in a church? We had quite a crew out there!

I arrived at the studio of Malcolm Harlow in the Shenandoah Valley at ten in the morning. Malcolm was there with Cambodian sculptor, Chantou Oeur, who had helped carve the piece. The two of them were building a ramp to move the sculpture laterally out of the studio. They “got all Egyptian on us,” as the Australian sculpture-mover quipped, and put wooden rollers beneath the base of the sculpture. First we hooked up a pulley system to raise the marble sculpture. Then, we rigged a chain and cable to a giant old tree with a wrenching system. JC, the woodworker who did the doorhandles in the Harlow’s home, was there operating the wrench. He’d adjust the chain and the sculpture would move forward a few inches along the wooden rollers. I pulled as the crew moved a log from the back to the front again and again until she was out of the studio.

We moved the stone kind of like the Ancient Egyptians would have. Except, once the stone was out of the studio, we had the luxury of a hydraulic lift to get it onto the drum.

Using logs to roll the marble sculpture out of the studio so that the crane could lift it onto the truck.

Once the sculpture was out of the studio, the truck did most of the work. Straps were wrapped around it and the crane lifted it onto the bed of the truck. Once it was securely in place, we drove to Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Maryland. We unloaded the sculpture in the parking lot and worked logistics to get it inside. Evening came and we decided to resume work the next morning. To be continued…

Sarah

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