Hand tools, both as implements of work and as symbols of a trade, are deeply entrenched in the physical and psychological construction of our history. Their place in our past is secure; however, their future appears less certain. Will these tools become curiosities of our collective past?

In these carvings of Moran's most widely exhibited series, Utility —as a growing body of sculptures— is a depiction of objects designed for function alone. The reversal of materials, while rendering them functionless, is an exploration of the meaning of those materials and their literal strengths and weaknesses. From carving each head to sand-casting each handle, this series is an homage to hand tools, their construction and function.



13" W x 32" H x 4 3/4" D

Walnut, Cast Iron


The solid carved head of the sculpture retains a visual weight that belies its Walnut construction. With its subtle curving corners, the elegance of the head seems almost at odds with the force required for the tasks for which this tool was designed. The significant bulk of iron handle, sand-cast from the wood original by Michael and his sister, brings to mind the grasp of hands along its length to find that balance at which the shoulder pivots to its task.


Each piece is 1:1 rendering of the respective tool. The Sledgehammer is mounted to the handmade frame with structural posts, painted out white like the background of the shadow box. The narrow Walnut frame includes a subtle reveal of wood around the inside on the box before it meets crisp, matte white paint.

Edition 1 of 2. To date, twelve tools have been created by Michael for this series; each will only be carved twice. Please see all dozen pieces below.