Most of Michael’s sculptures are made from a cast stone composite called Catstone. It was developed over 20 years ago for use in the exterior architectural restoration industry. The raw material itself consists of a minimum of five separate ingredients that are mixed together to create the final casting material. The result is a durable, weather resistant casting. The choice to work with this material is because it’s nontoxic to handle and can be manipulated to simulate stone, metal or wood finishes. Because it is a difficult material to handle without training and requires a very good quality silicone mold, Catstone has been slow to find recognition in the sculptural field.
Today, architects and designers use this casting system to fabricate ornamental building façades, columns, fireplace mantels, ornamental plaster work and so on. Michael learned how to use this material over a period of 10 years while working on façade restoration projects.
To a skilled mold maker, every shape is a potential sculptural component. Most of Michael’s sculptures begin as a mixed media collage fastened together temporarily with clay or other adhesive. Once the original model is assembled, a silicone mold is made. After the mold is completed, it is filled with a soft plaster material. It is during this phase that the collaged elements (previously wood, metal, glass, leather or organic material) are unified into the plaster and can be easily blended and sanded together.
Once the soft plaster model is cleaned up, a second silicone mold is made from the refined model. After the second mold is finished, it is filled with Catstone and allowed to harden into a finished casting. Depending on the desired result, the Catstone can be internally pigmented or have additional materials, such as powdered metal, added into the liquid casting material. The result is a much stronger, colored surface that will not wash off. However, when a more delicate surface coloration is required, a plain white Catstone can be cast and then painted with special polymer stains and acrylics.