How an Austin artist would put Trump on Mount Rushmore

Stone-carver Stuart Simpson, who lives in Cedar Park and works from a studio in Southeast Austin, can estimate how much it would cost to add President Donald J. Trump to Mount Rushmore, something the president has discussed in public with a mocking tone that ends up sounding serious.

New York-based Washington Post reporter Philip Bump contacted Stu, a neat guy and a member of the Stone Carvers Guild whom we’ve always intended to profile, to find out what it would take.

This is not President Trump, but rather the artist’s wife, Leslie. Still, you get the picture of how it could be handled. Hand carved Texas Luders limestone. 3′ L x 2 1/2′ H @ 1 1/2″ thick. Contributed by Stuart Simpson

“His estimate — which was obviously very rough given the infrequency of projects of this scale — was that it would take a team of about 180 people about four years to complete the job. (The work is “not like making a pizza,” he said.) That team would consist of about 25 designers, 30 trained stone workers and some 125 laborers to do the bulk of the chipping away at the mountain to create a 60-foot-tall head.

“At estimated hourly rates of $100 (designers), $50 (trained stone workers) and $30 (the rest of the crew), that’s about $64 million alone — just for labor.”

UPDATE: Simpson would add engineers to the design team, “which would be crucial for the project.”

Back to the Post story: “The way the work would proceed would be by “taking away the parts that you know don’t need to be there,” working from the top down, Simpson said. He likened it to terracing the side of a mountain, which, in a sense, it is. While the original sculptures were carved using tools such as jackhammers, Simpson noted that building this in 2017 would offer some advantages.

“Technology these days is way more advanced,” he said. “I think a lot of it will still have to be sculpted and removed off the mountain in the same manner that it was in the past, but with the new computer abilities and 3-D scanning, I would think there’s much more equipment that could be used to make it a more accurate and easier process.” Laser locating could allow for much more precise carving, for example, allowing a carver to hit a very particular depth on a section of Trump’s face.”


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