Monastic Technology, 2022

The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming Gothic are embarked on a major stone carving project–using CNC stone carving machines.

CNC machines and robots have unlocked the ability to relatively quickly carve the intense details of a Gothic church.  Ornate pieces that used to take months for a skilled carver, now can be accomplished in a matter of days.  Instead of cutting out the beauty, using the excuse that it takes too long, thus doesn’t fit into the budget, modern technology can be used to make true Gothic in all its beauty a reality again today. 

The use of modern technologies in stone carving unlock the potential of modern youth.  Though they may be untrained in the use of a hammer and chisel, young men and women have grown up in a world of computers.  The skills they possess can now be channeled towards a higher end, the building of a church for the glory of God.

Nice description of the machine and the process for using it at their site.

At least some of the medieval monks would have heartily approved, I think–some of the orders were at the forefront of technological change in their time, especially in the use of waterpower.


7 thoughts on “Monastic Technology, 2022”

  1. A post that helps us see the future as full of possibilities (even artistic ones) rather than to be dreaded.

  2. Unfortunately their web sites leave out all of the lawsuits filed against that particular grouping of religious folk stemming from the allegedly abusive treatment received at their ranches for “troubled youths”. Allegations included bizarre sexual practices and forced labor, including on the monastery, by the intertwined companies and ranches.

    The little fundraising company “Mystic Monks Coffee” has raised them (according to a couple of different sources) something like a $35 million fund.

    They are not particularly well-liked here in northwestern WY.

  3. Any sculptors or aspiring sculptors here who can comment?

    My son-in-law is a successful sculptor. His work is very different but he has done large projects for other so-called sculptors that might compare. I’ll see him at Christmas and will try to remember to ask him. Here is some of his work. Not to my taste but he is selling them as fast as he can make them. My daughter can stay home and raise my grand daughter as a stay at home mom.

  4. Mr. Foster:

    Both the criminal investigations and the civil lawsuits are still in progress. As a result, the monastery officials (and the folks who used to run the “ranches”) refuse to make any comment about them. The civil complaints are available on-line, and if true, lay out some fairly horrific child abuse allegations.

    The former location of one of their facilities was outside the community of Clark, WY. Clark is not concentrated enough to be a town, and is located in some very desolate sagebrush basin land, right at the base of the Beartooth Plateau. The scenery around there is incredible, but it’s also subject to winds that have, literally, torn the blacktop off the roads. The Clark’s Fork river canyon is one of the more spectacular hikes in the area, although portions of the trail were washed out this spring by the same kind of flooding that hit Yellowstone.

    The monks do NOT allow visitors to the monastery site, but you can see from aerial images how it is progressing. We have attempted to drive there, but they have a sign on the road stating that it is private property and trespassing is not allowed (which is itself pretty sacred here in WY) so we turned around. We live about an hour away from there, and you’ve got my e-mail from the log-in for the comments. If you drop me a line I can give you the location of the monastery site from Google Maps if you’re curious. I’ve tried to paste a screen-shot here but I guess I did it wrong since it didn’t work.

    I thought that the coffee was pretty ordinary but I’m no connoisseur of the stuff. I buy a big sack o’ Caribou Blend and grind the beans fresh for my once-a-day espresso. My wife appreciates good coffee, and she was not impressed with the single variety we tried (before we heard about the abuse allegations). YMMV.

  5. There’s a video linked on the page that gives some detail about the process of carving a finial for one of the pinnacles. Especially notice the scale of the milling machine, all of the action takes place in just a corner of the available envelope and if you watch closely, you’ll see what’s called a tombstone with several other pieces attached in the middle of the work platform. Also in the narrative is the fact that this single piece will occupy tens of hours on this machine. I’d guess that that mill probably costs close to $1,000 an hour to run, maybe more by the time everything is accounted for. This is not an inexpensive or quick process. That they’ve been at it for ten years and still going doesn’t seem much of an advance over a medieval timeline.

    In as much as the machinery was purchased off the shelf, The novelty seems to be confined to building a Gothic edifice from scratch. I assume most of the other mills of this sort are employed either in repair and conservation of historic structures or to serve more modern aesthetic conventions. Of course, the stone cutters and masons that would have been drawn to such a building site from all over the world clear into the 20th century no longer exist, so there’s no real alternative.

    While building this must be an interesting project, I can’t help but wonder what pastoral end is being served, especially in the middle of nowhere (no offense). If this was an eight or nine figure house for a billionaire or a way for some tech startup to burn through extra VC money, there’d be no real question.

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