Mara Smith - Brick Sculptor    □   FAQ
CC sunflowers
Carving a huge panel of sunflowers for The Whole Wall project

What's the Biggest and Smallest Pieces Mara Has Done?

Mara has carved a number of large panels, like the 'Reflections' panel for Meridian Bank, Reading,PA - 15ft high x 60ft long. She executed a 4ft high x 200 ft frieze for the Anatole Hotel Auditorium, Dallas, TX. In 2008 Mara acted as lead sculptor for St Louis artist Catharine Magel's 15ft - 21ft high x 140ft "The Whole Wall Project" for the Cloud County Historical Society Museum, Concordia, KS. Mara also carves small panels, individual brick designs, house numbers, letters, and small 3-D carvings (like the Bears on the Biography page).
Ship fireplace

Will Mara Carve my Design or Does She Only Do Her Own Designs?

Whatever works. Mara can carve your design or she can sketch original drawings for whatever you want to include in your mural or sculpture. Most clients come with some ideas about the subject, then Mara creates the design, makes the drawings, as well as executes the carving. Mara is a fine designer (and draftsman too); making brick murals takes artistic talent as well as carving skills.

What Kind of Subject Can I Put On A Fireplace?

You'll see lots of fireplace panels illustrated on this website. Wildlife motifs look great, such as bears, deer, salmon, eagles and swans... Mara has a great affinity for wildlife; all kinds of animals and trees "come alive" in her artworks. Also suns, moons and stars. A beautiful ship panel is shown to the left, along with one of Mara's design sketches for it. Try not to cram too many things into the design - for smaller panels, simple is often more stunning.

Do You Make The Carved Bricks In A Mold?

No. Each brick is hand-carved as part of the whole work, starting with a blank brick made by the brickyard. Every finished sculpture is unique.
Lincoln Zoo details

Do You Use The Same Kind of Brick As In A House or Wall?

The same kind. Bricks are made from fired clay, and there are many kinds of clay, which give different colors, hardness and so on. The best clay for carved brick needs to be soft enough to carve, firm enough to hold the design shape, not dry out too quickly, and fire without excessive warping. Mara prefers to use the larger economy size bricks for most carving. There is less distortion in laying up the design and about 50% less mortar is used.

Can Mara Make Memorials?

Yes, indeed. She has been commissioned to make a number of Veteran's Memorials (such as the one above), panels for mausoleums, and cemeteries, including private headstones or memorial patios. Please check with your cemetery for regulations regarding family memorial stones.

Would Mara Come and Consult on My Project?

Maybe. As one of the most experienced brick sculptors in America, Mara is asked, and sometimes will, act as consultant to other artists, especially on large projects. The most recent was the Cloud County Historical Society Museum " The Whole Wall Project",Concordia, KS - considered the largest single mural in the U.S.- where Mara became lead sculptor and provided consultancy to the contracted artist, Catherine Magel.

How Can You Ship All That Brick To Me?

Actually, brick is relatively easy to ship. The finished, fired brick is stacked on pallets, shrink-wrapped, and shipped by common carrier. Panels have been shipped all over the United States, and even abroad.

What are Mara's fees?

Carved brick is generally charged at $200 per square foot of finished work and may include extra fees for a rush job or degree of difficulty. Mara's current charge of $200 per sq ft. includes the design sketches, contract, project management, carving, drying, firing, and packaging to ship. A $300/day installation supervision fee plus travel/living expense during installation is added to most projects. The client is responsible for shipping, hiring a mason ( Mara may recommend several), lighting, insurances, and maintanence of the completed artwork.

Sounds Complicated, How Long Does It Take?

Read the How It's Done page to get an idea of what is involved. The process of carving brick inherently takes a certain number of weeks from design through to firing. Below is an outline of a typical project.
[Details here]