A frosty morning with the first hour spent clogging sandpaper with melting frost mixed with onyx dust. All day was spent sanding inside the curl by hand. Very slow work but much better by this evening. I stood the piece up for the first time. The sculpture does not quite stand up straight. I will have to make the necessary adjustment to the base. I gave a wild cat an old egg that a chicken had laid in the barn. He was very happy with the treat. He looks much healthier than our house cats.Funny that, it makes me wonder what is in cat food. Pooch my photographer friend turned up hence the lovely picture today.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Not only am I blogging for the first time but my new and improved website is launching. The brilliant Tim Stafford has helped us design and make it so wonderful. So thank you Tim. I now feel much more connected to the world. Being an artist is a strange existence as I spend most of my time alone with my work, it is nice to be able to reach out in this way too. Blogging, facebook and a much more connected website too. In the past I have felt that the only time I get to feel any feedback from the outside world is at the opening of an exhibition. Then I am like a rabbit blinking in the headlights with so much feedback all at once.
Today the sun has shone. Cold and clear and absolutely perfect for work. The perfect day was capped off with a giant orange moon coming up behind the shed. The onyx is almost down to its final shape and has not yet fallen to bits. The colour continues to amaze and delight me. It almost looks edible.
The moon looked much bigger than this!
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
I spent all yesterday at the hospital as I had a sore chest. Of course the moment you mention something wrong with your chest they rush you off to get it checked out as it sounds like a heart attack. Barnstaple hospital gave me a full check and pronounced me very healthy. They found nothing wrong with my heart,lungs kidney or blood pressure. A huge relief as I was terrified for a moment. I now think it was something that has been going round the family and settled on my chest.
Today I worked on the white onyx piece and it is taking shape well. There are all sorts of cracks in it and I wonder if it will hold together. The colour and translucence is very seductive. I think I am asking the material to do a little too much with this piece, better to carve something more solid.
Sunday, 25 November 2012
The yard is fresh washed from the deluge and I am happy to be back out under clear skies. I have plumped for a simple version of a sculpture that I had in mind although I do have reservations about it. There comes a time when you just have to say, “ to hell with procrastination” and just get on with it. In some way, to do nothing is worse than to do something not quite right. Better to keep on and to gain momentum than to grind to a halt in worry.
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Today was wilder and wetter than ever. The battered tarpaulin blew off and I retreated into the barn. I spent several hours trying to decide what to do with the new block of onyx and ended up splitting it down its fault line with plugs and feathers. These consist of a long thin teardrop shaped piece of metal split down the middle and dropped into a drilled hole.A wedge is then banged in between the two halves pushing the two parts apart. It split perfectly and easily and made me glad I had not tried to make a single sculpture from the block as it would almost certainly have broken. You can see the block just after splitting still with the plugs and feathers attached.
The brown area shows that the stone has split almost exactly down the fault line. I have stood the block upright but still cannot decide what to do with it. It is hard. Harder than marble and brittle like glass, but translucent and so beautiful with subtle orange veining.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
More rain overnight and all is sodden. The river has burst its banks. By morning the worst of it had moved off east and I had quite a good day at work. The onyx can be turned by hand now which helps as I can work on all sides. I have cleaned the sides and have decided to leave the top and bottom rough.
I drove into the field to fetch a new block of the clear onyx and almost got stuck in the mud. I left a hell of a mess. It seemed like such a good idea putting the spare blocks out there.. I did not think it would get this wet!
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
This morning my tarpaulin was full of water from overnight rain and the timbers holding it up were bending alarmingly under the weight.Now my rate of progress on the carving starts to slow as I have to proceed with more caution in order to get an even thickness in the stone. I have done this before in marble but the tensile strength of onyx is very poor and I dare not take it too thin. In the picture you can see the depth marks showing me where I need to remove more material and where to stop. Ten is more than thick enough but five and a half is probably already a bit thin. The strength of the form is helped by its undulations of course giving it the sort of strength an eggshell gets from its shape. You can see my wooden callipers which have been mended many times.
Monday, 19 November 2012
A wild day here in Cornwall. My flapping tarpaulin keeping most of the rain out but I still came in a bit soggy. The carving is progressing well however and I am curious to see how it looks when I stand it up. I will have to get some stainless steel pins to float the stone off its base. They will glue into holes underneath. I am wondering about not working the sides as the undulations of the strata of the onyx follow their own line and it might look odd if I were to straighten it out as it would mean cutting in and out of that strata. I think I will wait to decide on this until I can stand the work upright. Perhaps because I have never worked this stone before I find it hard to ‘see’ the piece finished and am not at all sure if it will work…
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Have successfully installed two large works in a lovely garden. They look really good and it does feel great to know where they are going and to be able to think of them in that wonderful setting. Lee continues to impress me and I am left feeling that there is lots of scope to explore that idea further. There is something so nice about a sculpture standing on the ground outside. No base to complicate matters. We got home very late and am still exhausted by such a long day.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
The onyx is even more crazy than I had thought. The patterning and change of colour are completely overwhelming. I am wondering if this will kill the sculpture in its ability to overpower. I have not expressed this very well but I have always been reluctant to use stones with such intense characters for the fear that the form will be somehow lost. I am employing the maxim, ‘ Print and be damned’. I reckon that you don’t really know for sure until you have actually tried. I ran over the surface with 120 grade paper and then threw a bucket of water over the sculpture to have a look at how it could look if polished really high.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
The electricity was cut off for the whole day because of some work on the lines. I spent the day not able to get stuck into the onyx. I found yesterday that it is not all that hard and I am able to work quite fast which is lovely. I am always impatient to uncover an idea once I have had it and the relative softness of the material helps in this. I polished a little piece today by hand and the colours begin to shine out. I shall have to be careful not to try to make the structure too fragile as i can tell that it does not have much integral strength. Tomorrow i will get going on it. i must check my mask as I could feel that I had inhaled some dust yesterday. Not good.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
This is all new to me. Writing a blog. Perhaps it is like starting a new series of sculpture. Difficult. Actually the hardest part is the starting and then things start to come more easily. Anyway we shall see. This is a good time to start however as I have just had a delivery of marble and onyx from Portugal and am beginning to work on it. The blocks are all lying around on pallets waiting. I have a page full of drawings but I am sure that the stone will lead me in new directions once the work is really underway. I have been organising this series for a while and am really ready to get going on it.
The block I am working on is marble. The block under the drill is green onyx. The colours underneath are amazing and all hidden at the moment by dust and years of lying around.