Common questions about my work include : how long did it take you ? where do you get your ideas from ? -where do you get your wood ? how do you get such a smooth finish ? or how do you do the metal inlays ?
The first is the easiest to answer, and varies from a few days to a few weeks, though I like the response of a favourite oil painting teacher of Lucy’s who replied ” a week and forty years” – as she had spent most of her life learning her art. So in my case I suppose it would be “a week and three or four years” as this is how long I’ve seriously been trying to learn how to carve, but I’ve worked in in wood for various utilitarian projects for most of my adult life – from pergolas and worksheds, to coffee tables and cupboards – they all gave me a good start in learning how to cut and shape wood.
The second is a bit harder – sometimes a pleasing natural twist or flaw in the wood will suggest something – a crocodile or a lizard to give a couple of specific examples that will be covered in later posts, but more often the shapes arise from a hybrid mixture of many ideas – often inspired by other carvers and sculptors whose work I admire. Sometimes this is conscious and then there is a fine line between creative adaptation and plagiary, but more often it is unconscious – a form of evolution as ideas flit from brain to brain, brain to hand, and hand back to brain, usually mutating a little at each flight, and only surviving if they are the fittest for the moment and the material.
The third I have tried to answer on the Resources page, at least for Brisbane, Australia where I live. It’s an important question – the explosion of possibilities when I left behind the challenges of tough eucalypt firewood logs and boring bits of hardware store pine , and discovered the pleasures of working in white beech or rosewood or cedar was a deilght.
The questions about finishing and inlays and other techniques and tricks that I’ve learned along the way I’ll try to answer in future notes.