Foo Dog in Alabaster

This a Foo Dog, about 2'x2'x1' I sculpted out of alabaster. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
This a Foo Dog, about 2’x2’x1′ I sculpted out of alabaster. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

Last summer, I participated a stone carving workshop at Laguna Coast College of Art and Design. This is the latest sculpture I finished in April. It started out as a 100-lb chunk of pink alabaster quarried in New Mexico. It’s my interpretation of a Foo Dog, the mythical beast of China which guards banks and other edifices in the Far East. In China, they are known simply as “shi,” which means “lion.” The western “foo” may be a transliteration of “Fu” which means “Buddah,” though the exact origin of the name is unclear.

For this sculpture, I tried to combine anatomical elements of a lion, human and pit bull to create the celestial “Dog of Fu,” a divine animal that is instantly recognizable, but not quite quantifiable.

The stone I chose for this was the best I could afford, which means that, unfortunately, it was heavily veined. That’s why I was only able to do the front half of this sculpture; a large chunk of my stone calved off along a striation existing in the stone as I was carving (See photo).

In a disastrous turn of events, a large section of my sculpture calved off along an existing striation in the alabaster.

The green ball I bought already carved and polished. It’s made from calcite, I believe.

I smoothed the surface with finer and finer grit sandpaper and polishing materials, then I  buffed it with a paste of baking soda and water. Once I rinsed that off and let the sculpture dry thoroughly. I then rubbed the whole thing down with mineral oil, which is absorbed by the semi-porous stone and gives it a luster.

Right now I’m working on a small crucifix I’m carving out of the piece of stone that calved off in the photo above. There are also another couple small pieces that might be worth making some little figurines out of, but as for the foo dog, he’s finished and sitting in my living room.