Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Break on Through to the Other Side

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Normally when carving stone, the artist works three sides and leaves the fourth alone in case it becomes necessary to push the carving back into this forth side. On a portrait, for example, if the nose breaks, it would be possible to carve all details a little bit deeper without distortion, if one has not already cut away the stone at the back of the head.

In the case of my marble gymnast, I have been working all four sides, using my “inside” as my insurance, if you will. While carving the shapes and determining proportions of the various forms of my figure in stone, I was careful not to undercut into the interior.

However, when this cautious behaviour led to my inability to envision and shape the face, I plunged forward and drilled my first hole in the stone. Commitment time. I am a firm believer that when something begins to distract me to the point of not being able to focus on my current activity (whether it be a need/desire for food, bathroom, sex, sleep, or another art project), I stop my current activity to satisfy my need. Then I can get back to the original task at hand, and with more enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of cool drilling tools. So I used a common electric drill and a long masonry drill bit. Of course, my objective is to drill the hole so that it comes out the other side in the right place, and certainly not through a body part! So, I used the drill bit and one of my chisels to help me place the drill spot and the angle, standing back and viewing the line from a distance and many viewpoints.

It took me most of the afternoon on 30 December to work this marble from both sides until I finally saw the light. I was proud of myself that the holes I drilled from each side matched up PERFECTLY in the center. I have a habit now of singing Jim Morrison of The Door’s “Break on through to the other side . . .” every time I drill the first hole in one of my stone carvings. I kinda enjoy the tradition of it, as well as the cheer-leading factor.