I was lying in bed, half asleep, next to my girlfriend, as one does, on a Sunday morning lie in. I had nearly woken up, because my left hand was hurting so bad. During my studies at Art-School, our stone mason teacher had insisted, that I used the traditional German stone masons hammer whilst carving a granite sculpture. He claimed that the long and slender hammerhead, makes this hammer jump up again after every strike, and thereby saves a lot of muscle power. What it really does, is slip off the hitting end of the chisel much easier, and hit the hand of the stone carver. And quite often, hit the hand so badly, that it broke the bones in the hand that held the chisel.
That was exactly what had happened to me, a few days before.
So, I was lying in bed, half asleep, next to my girlfriend, as one does, on a Sunday morning lie in.
The other reason for the slender shape of the traditional German stone masons hammer was, that as more of its mass is distributed along its “trajectory”, it allegedly did not wobble as much when hitting the chisel. Thereby, being less inclined to slip off the chisel, and hit the hand. How wrong this concept was. And the result of that mistaken concept kept me half awake. My Chisel hand was black and blue, and I was lucky, not to have broken any bones in it.
So, being in pain, I was lying in bed, half asleep, next to my girlfriend, as one does, on a Sunday morning lie in, when in a state of lucid dreaming, I had this fantasy, of having a pillow fight, with my girlfriend, using all manor of different geometric shapes, cut from foam rubber. The question was what shape would fly best, and would best bounce back after hitting an object? The simple and easy to grasp answer is of course: "A ball!”
Applying this revelation to the problem of stone carving granite, with hammer and chisel, I considered, what would a spherical hammer look like, and how would it perform? Considering: Bounce Back, Quality of Trajectory, and Danger of Damage to the Hand, holding the chisel, I played scenarios in my head, taking all these things into account, and woke up, with a smile on my face.
On Monday morning, when I walked into the sculpting department of the Arts School, by chance, all three sculpting professors were in one room. I seized the occasion, and asked them, if they had ever heard about a spherical, ball hammer? None of them had, but they where all appalled of the idea. The professor for metal work was particularly dismayed. “For havens sake, Rory”, he said. “For nearly two thousand years, metal hammers have been used in stone carving, and than you come along, and think, that you have invented a new hammer?”
“I am sorry,” I said, “but I think, I have!”
As it turned out my professors were so dismayed of my creative idea that I was ordered not to use the art schools workshops to make my mace hammer. I had to go to a metal-lathing workshop in town, to have one made. And guess what, it’s performance, as a stone carving tool, was even better, than I had envisaged in my half asleep, half awake lucid dream on that Sunday morning lie in, next to my girlfriend.
Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer
I invented the Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer, whilst at art school, in Hannover, Germany in about 1985/86. It has several advantages over the traditional German Stone Masons Hammer that my stone carving teacher, Ulrich Niedhorn, who was a Master-Stone Mason, and “Dozent”, at the “Fachhochschule für Kunst und Designe”, promoted amongst his students.
Let’s start with pointing out the shortcomings of the traditional hammer, as shown in
Its Hammerhead is longer, compared with the hammer-head of a builder’s mallet / hammer.
This means that, whilst it has the same weight, of 1.5 kg, to 1.75 kg, its head is more slender, and therefor, has a smaller hitting area. As a result, it is much easier to miss the end of the chisel, slip off, and hit the chisel hand. Sometimes, in particular, when carving hard stones, like Granite, this can lead to serious damage, even broken bones, in the chisel hand.
Having two protruding ends, the traditional German Stonemasons Hammer vibrates at every knock. This vibration leads to a ringing noise.
As visible in the Fig. 1, the distance between the hitting point P, and the centre of gravity
Point G, is, distance A, plus distance B, and is therefore greater than the distance between the centre line along the handle, and the turning point in the wrist, point T. Therefore, using the traditional German Stone Masons Hammer puts a great strain on the ligaments in the wrist, and lower arm.
In comparison my Spherical Mace Hammer, shown in Fig. 2, has the following advantages.
As its head is round, all that happens, should you slip off the end of the chisel, is that you push the chisel hand out of the way, without hurting yourselves.
As it has no protruding parts, it only makes a dry thudding noise. The loudest noise, when using it, for stone carving, is made, by the tip of the chisel, breaking the stone.
As the distance, between the turning point T, in the wrist, and the middle of the handle; distance B; is the same as the distance between the hitting point P, and the centre of gravity, in the hammer head; point G; the strain on the ligaments in the wrist is minimal.
As the Spherical Mace Hammer is near equal to a ball, it really jumps back up, after every knock, saving the carver the job, of lifting it back up, for the next knock. In comparison the traditional German Stone Masons Hammer, reputedly, does that, in comparison with the Builders Hammer / Mallet. I found, that this is not significant in the German Stone Masons Hammer, but I can clearly feel this, when I use my Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer.
And as a last comment:
I was taught in Engineering School, that it is not possible, to transfer a force via a single point. That may be true, but it does not mean, that you can not transfer energy into the cutting tip of a chisel with a Spherical Mace Hammer. Whilst the hitting point is a single point in terms of Trigonometry, in reality, the Spherical Mace Hammers Head slightly changes its shape at every knock, like a football, when kicked, and the chisel head is also moulding itself a bit onto the hammer head, with every impact.
Advice for making your own Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer:
The cheapest and easiest way of getting your own Mace Hammer is to buy a Tractor/Farm Machinery “Connector Ball”. This can be bought from any Tractor or Farm Machinery retailer. Ask any farmer where to find one. If you live in a city, find one via the Internet. These spheres cost aprox. 10 Dollars, and are made from vacuum hardened tool steel. They come in two sizes, and weigh about 700 grams to 820 grams. This is a bit too light for granite carving, but suitable for beginners, and carving limestone, etc.
You still have to get a round wooden handle. See “Handles” at the end of this text.
If you are seriously contemplating hard stone carving, using a Mace Hammer, you will need a heavier mace. This will have to be made from vacuum hardened tool steel. Tool steel, used for press moulds for cutlery making (forks and spoons) is ideal.
I used a Steel, called: “THYRODUR 2767”, supplied from the German Specialised steel maker Thyssen/Krupp
Do not rely on information by your local steel merchant, but contact a big specialised steel producer, and tell them what you want the steel for. A steel producer knows his products better than a steel merchant.
In order to have the desired crystalline metal structure, after the vacuum hardening, the Spherical Mace Hammer Head needs to be shaped on a metal lathe, from a piece of steel rod.
A 1,5 kg heavy Spherical Mace Hammer Head needs to be 80mm in diameter, with a 36mm wide central hole for the handle. This sphere should be 70mm high.
In the 80’s, I paid 59, - Deutsch Marks (DM) for the steel. 196,- DM for the machine lathing, and 40,- DM for the Vacuum Forging (Hardening).
This makes a spherical Mace Hammer about as expensive as a good compressed air, hand hammer, plus some chisels. But you will have no problems with “white finger vibration syndrome”, using it, and you only have to slip off the chisel end once (it took me about ½ an hour to do this) to realise, that you cannot hurt yourselves, and what a good tool you have acquired.
Respectively a 1,75 Kg Mace Head needs to have a diameter of 75,8 mm a central hole for the handle of 25mm and the sphere will be 71mm high.
Do not use unforged steel. The Sphere will only develop an “Equator Groove” from use. Eventually this groove will develop a pronounced edge, and this edge will hurt your hand, when slipping off the chisel.
These need to be round in diameter. Ordinary hammer handles are oval in diameter, and not suitable for a Mace Hammer. Close to the mace head, the handle should have a protective collar. This is necessary as the only way you can hurt your hands when using a Mace Stone Carving Hammer is when your hand holds the Mace Hammer directly under the Mace Head, and you slip off the chisel end in such a way, that the fingers of the hand holding the Mace Hammer are trapped between the handle of the hammer and the chisel end.
There are three possible varieties of wood for your Mace Hammer Handles. Hickory, ash, and apple wood. Apple wood was traditionally used for Stone Masons Mallets. Good dry apple wood is very difficult to get hold of, so hickory or ash should be used.
After turning and then sanding the handle on the lathe, you should water, dry and then sand the handle with finer and finer grain sand paper seven times. First 80 Grit, than 120, 300, etc. until 600, or 1000 Grit. The wetting and drying will make the wood grain stand up, so that the grains can then be sanded away. It is possible to use a paint stripping heat gun or hair dryer to speed up the drying time. A final protective coat of boiled linseed oil should then be applied. Be careful when disposing of the rags you used for this, as drying linseed oil can spontaneously ignite cloth.
Fix Mace Head to handle by cutting into the top of the handle and insert and glue wooden wedges. Standard metal fixing wedges have a tendency to fly out at great speed!
A Word on Patents and Copy Rights:
If you are interested, in making yourselves a Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer for your own use, you are welcome to do so.
I did not patent the “Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer”, as I previously lost a lot of money, trying to register a patent, for a different product. I had to learn the hard way that Patenting Offices and Patenting Law do not exist to make the small mad inventor rich, but to protect the interests of big multi-national companies.
Should you nevertheless want to register a Patent for the Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer under your own name, don’t! You will only pay a lot of money to Patenting and Copyrights Lawyers. Remember, that Patents are meant to protect the original inventor, and you will not be able to prove that you had the idea of the Spherical Mace Stone Carving Hammer before me.
The O C o c l i ‘s.
To view full size click on image
I always wanted to stencil text into clay, as clay tablets are the oldest records in written language, that are still available today. I had been using shaped stencils for decorating pottery, but I had never tried to write on pottery, except for scratching my signature onto the bottom of my pots. One of the signs and symbols I had used to decorate my pots was a peace of Bamboo that I had used to stencil a circle onto my pots. I also used a little wooden Ice Cream Stick for short straight lines. Then, one day, after using the Bamboo Circle, and the Ice Cream Stick, to stencil a cross in a circle, it dawned on me. I tried it out on a peace of paper, and found it to be true.
All Latin Writing and all Arabian Numerals are made up of only 7 different Glyph-Fragments. (Particles of letters or numbers)
Try it out for yourselves.
To begin with, the Capital Letters:
A is made up of two long strait bits and a short strait bit.
B is made up of one long strait bit and two small halve circles.
C is made up of one large half circle.
D is made from one long strait bit and one large half circle.
E is made from one long strait bit and three short strait bits.
F is made from one long strait bit and two short strait bits.
G is made from one large half circle, and two short strait bits.
H is made from two long strait bits and one short strait bit.
I am made from one long strait bit.
J is made from one long strait bit and one small half round bit.
Etc., etc., etc. The reader can complete the whole alphabet of capital letters, the alphabet of small letters, and the ten numbers of the Arabian figures himself, to find, that they are all made from the seven glyph fragments, or, Ococlie’s.
The capital O, the capital C, the small o, the small c, the small l (L), and the small i, including the dot over the i, that makes it seven symbols, or Glyph-Fragments. I arranged them in this order, as it forms the word: “ OCocli “. This word does not make much sense in itself, but is just a listing of the bits and pieces, our writing system is made from.
If you use short pieces of Bamboo, it is only too easy to have one end cut off strait across the grain and the other end cut across the grain and then one half of the end removed, so that you end up, with a half round or letter C. Repeat this with a thinner peace of Bamboo, so that when you turn the pieces of Bamboo around, whilst stenciling, using both sides of the pieces of wood. If you carve the long and the short straight bits on opposite ends of a wooden Ice-Cream stick, you end up with three stencils and a small round stencil for the full stop.
Thus four stencils are all it takes to write in clay, using Roman Letters and Arabian Numbers.
I since used the Ococlie’s for stenciling a short story and any amount of other texts into rolled out sheets of clay, always joking, that every one is talking of the paperless office, and I have got it.
The realisation that all our writing is just made from seven letter fragments is a very profound and fundamental discovery. I talked to a friend about it, that had studied Calligraphy, and he had never heard about it. So, I must assume that it is a genuine invention of mine. Had it been made over 450 years earlier, it could have made the first printing with moveable letters even easier and faster. As it stands, in the day and age of computer printers, it is an astounding and very fundamental realisation that clearly shows that I am able to look at the world with new eyes ever so often. Having an insight into such fundamental things is rare. We all usually take them for granted. But like inventing a new and fundamentally different hammer, to do my stone carving with, I was blessed with the insight about the Ococlie’s. Such fundamental creativeness is, what being an artist, should be about.