Monday, August 10, 2009

My stone

A couple of years ago I had a craving to carve something. Anything. Wood is easy to find, so I thought that would be the obvious choice. But I was stuck. I didn't have the slightest clue how to begin. I didn't have a single tool or even the knowledge of what type of wood one carves.

I call it a craving because that is exactly what it was. It gnawed at me for weeks, months. I could so clearly see in my mind the shapes I wanted, the feel I wanted of it in my hand. It was trapped there in my head (with me trying nothing and all out of ideas) until I talked to my brother. "Why not try soapstone? It's soft and easy to carve." Ding Ding Ding Ding! bells go off at this brilliant simple idea and I am on my way to find soapstone. A couple of impatient weeks later it arrives in the mail from none other than Stoneman, a business in Ontario. (I must say the name was helpful in finding him.) Brazilian soapstone to be exact. One brown block, one green. Both 3 inches by 3 inches by 6 inches.

The fox came from the first stone. He was the one burning in my head, dying to get out. He is the one who started it all, and will always be special, even if he's not my best work. That's how it's supposed to go though, right? These first two blocks also gave me my stargazer, owl and hawk. Like all art, some things just don't make the cut. The owl is not a favorite, and the seal was never finished after a deadly break of the tail. (sorry for the bad pictures, I really need to learn how to photograph these guys)

Since the beginning of my adventure into this hobby, my mom, who loves soapstone and has been collecting pieces for years, has encouraged me. While in Newfoundland she brought back a little piece of stone. (which was somewhat hard to get as they like to keep what they have for their own artists) This stone was completely different than the Brazilian stone. First of all it was raw. Not nicely cut into a smooth block. This was a challenge but also inspiration, since the raw shape determined what it was to become. So the salamander was born. My personal favorite so far.

Lucky for me, my mom and dad like to travel, and while on a 2 month long road trip to the Canadian north, she lugged back an enormous chunk of white soapstone, the size I've never seen but in museums. She usually brings back a stuffed animal from each trip (another story), and come to think of it, that's where the moose came from, but the chunk of rock was way better. It must have weighed 20 pounds, was built like a mountain and just as raw. Hard to believe it was scraps from another artists' work. (I would have loved to see their workshop. I kind of drool a bit thinking of it) I cut the top of the mountain off and made what first came to mind when I saw it. What else would you make out of a white stone from Inuvik, but a polar bear. This guy is sitting in mom's curio, among her collection. His rightful place I'd say.

My hubby cheers me on too of course and right now, I still have stone he gave me, uncarved waiting on the shelf. I seem to go in spurts, and have been in a lull. Sometimes the reason is that I'm just too busy, but a lot of the time is that the picture in my head is missing a piece, and will be left there until I can figure it out. Lately, the stone Mart got for me has been calling and I'm excited to go buy a new blade for the hacksaw so I can start. (I've ruined a lot of saws) This guy will have feet, and a tail, but that's all I'll say. You'll just have to check back to see when I'm done. The fun thing about carving stone, is that I have no idea what the finished rock will look like until it's all sanded and polished up. So even I get a surprise.

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