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His canvas will be the library wall

Published Feb. 26, 2006

Charles Sharrod Partin is tickled.

"I've never laid brick in front of an audience before," he said. "I'm kind of pleased."

But Partin isn't your everyday bricklayer. He's a sculptor who uses soft, claylike brick; he separates it for baking and hardening, then reassembles it.

This week, Partin plans to assemble four pallets of carved brick into an ancient locomotive that will appear to emerge from an exterior wall of the Lutz Branch Library. It's a tribute to Lutz's origin as a railroad junction. Hillsborough County commissioned Partin's work as part of an expansion of the library.

The Friends of the Lutz Library are so excited that their treasurer, Auralee Buckingham, was arranging last week to borrow a small set of bleachers from the county parks department and place them at Partin's work area.

"It's a come-and-go thing," Buckingham said. "Anybody that wants to stop and watch can."

Partin, of New Port Richey, carved the brick this fall at a studio in Endicott, Neb. On Monday, he plans to pour a foundation at the library. On Tuesday, Partin and his brick mason, Bob Martinez, will begin laying a base, then reassembling the Nebraska bricks into the sculpture. They plan to finish by Friday, starting daily around 8 or 9 a.m.

The locomotive's smokestack will rise 8 feet from the ground, he said. It won't be your normal sculpture, Partin said.

"There's probably about 50 of us in the country that do this."