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Sent on Mormon-News: 22Mar01

By Rosemary Pollock

Artist Takes Leave of Absence to Sculpt Oxen for Nauvoo Temple

IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO -- Dressed in safety goggles, anti-vibration gloves and a dust mask, Allen Haroldsen shows up for a long day of work surrounded by the mist of powdery limestone. "This is what I've dreamed of all my life," said the graphics designer from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Haroldsen took a leave of absence from his work to sculpt the oxen that will support the baptismal font in the newly reconstructed historic Nauvoo Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"You feel like you should be dressed by NASA every morning," Haroldsen said. Each statue is exacting work that takes 100 hours to complete. The excess stone is removed in large chunks until the desired shape is approached and then the air chisel does it's work. With the buzz of a saw and the moves of a jackhammer, Haroldsen's hands go numb from the long hours of vibration.

Limestone for the oxen statues is being shipped from Idaho Falls from a quarry near Russelville, Alabama. The original Nauvoo, Illinois quarries are underwater since a dam was built that changed the course of the Mississippi River. Haroldsen's challenge is to recreate the model in stone each time he carves an ox.

"Church leaders aren't interested in having the sculptors do their own interpretations. They want them to follow the template," said Tim Orchard, vice president and general manager of Idaho Travertine.

Haroldsen is sculpting three of the 12 oxen that represent the 12 tribes of Israel and will surround a large baptismal font. As many as seven of the oxen will be sculpted in Idaho Falls at Idaho Travertine Corp., where workers are cutting all of the stone for the temple's exterior. Two additional oxen are being prepared in case of breakage during the 1,250-mile journey from Salt Lake City to Nauvoo. The baptismal font is scheduled to be completed and installed sometime this summer.


Artist delights in chance to carve oxen
Deseret News 17Mar01 A2
By Shel Williams: Post Register
12 of them will support font in Nauvoo Temple


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