Monday in the shop.  I took yesterday off

Monday in the shop.  I took yesterday off completely. My hands needed a rest so I didn’t carve or climb.  Instead, I explored the city, read my book and hung out with Albert Lecoff, Terry Martin and the ITE’ers. We went to the Center for Art in Wood and I found a book of french wood sculptors which I couldn’t read (not speaking french) but I was glued to the pictures and found the work these artists had done to be absolutely intriguing.  Today I came to the shop ready to work with a good idea of what i wanted to do.  Next to a west facing window in our fourth floor turning and power carving studio I set up my detail work station.  Here, I will use the small rotary tool (a super-dremel called the nsk) and the wood burner.  the window provides both ample light and fresh air and even though it was hot and humid today it was nice to have the fresh, fragrant air coming in.  Here at my station I can work sitting cross legged with the piece in my lap, on a table at chest height or with the piece in my lap partially or fully reclined.  I had never worked fully reclined before today and it is extremely relaxing (so much so i almost fell asleep which could have been bad with the wood burner on ha ha ha). Its also funny working in this position because when people come up to talk to me I feel like a patient with them as the dentist.  But I think it will allow me to work comfortably for longer hours and do less damage to my body. I alternated between two projects today. One is a collaboration between Neil Turner from down under and me from the inland northwest.  On the collaborative piece, I’m burning a texture into the bottom of the holes Neil has created.  This  is a repetitive process and will take many hours.  The piece I brought from home is a freeform abstract walnut carving. I am very excited about it but untill today felt hopeless to ever complete it.  it has many recesses which until today i couldn’t efficiently get into but my new rotary chisel for the nsk arrived yesterday and it is sharp and effective. Still, it is hard to find the right angle of approach especially in the deeper recesses and a few times the bit caught in the wood and caused the tool to bounce around damaging the wood surface and potentially bending the shaft of the bit, something I really want to avoid considering the $35 price of each bit.  It felt good to be doing this kind of work.  These pieces are both at a slow stage where the design is pretty well established and refinement is the main goal.  This just takes time and focus.  This is in sharp contrast to the work I’ve done over the past week.  That work was fast, almost frantic.  I would get into a frenzy trying to create these new concepts and attack the wood with the chainsaw and the big carver.  It became clear that I needed to slow down when I accidentally carved through the side of a sculpture I was working on.  Having not done much sculpture in the past four years of bowl turning,  I feel like I’m having to learn some lessons over again and in the bigger picture, I’m trying to develop my voice as an artist.  What do I want to make and why are questions I’m thinking about these days.  In all the bowls I’ve turned I haven’t spent more than a day on any given piece and Making the transition to multi day projects is difficult.  I think it will be worth it. At the end of the day I went to see how Gaynor’s veneer stitching project was coming along.  It seems like a very ambitious and challenging project and its good to know I’m not the only one outside my comfort zone.  I hope she pulls it off because as we all agreed, that would be really COOL!!!

Ben sets up a carving nest in the window at UArts. He's four stories above the traffic, in superb west light.

Ben sets up a carving nest in the window at UArts. He’s four stories above the traffic, in superb west light.

Ben's new carving bit helps him get into tight places in this freeform walnut sculpture that he brought from Idaho to Philadelphia.

Ben’s new carving bit helps him get into tight places in this freeform walnut sculpture that he brought from Idaho to Philadelphia.

 

 

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