Monday, March 5, 2012

NetWorks RI

My official NetWorks portrait by Scott Lapham, 
probably one of the three or four photos of me I ever really liked. 

Here is the video that Richard Goulis made last spring 
to document my work as part of the NetWorks RI project. 
 February Vacation

Midwinter break from school was marked by warm weather and a chance to get into the studio. For awhile now I have had the idea of setting two slabs (or maybe more) together to make a piece that would stand firmly on its own, and be connected, but dis-connect-able. I made a smallish one to try out the idea and I think it is working pretty well, and now I am carving one of the pieces with a take off on a very old design from one of my cherished ancient Celtic scabbard pieces.  I have a whole book of this sort of design, primarily from metal work, that inspires some interesting carving for stone. It's called Celtic Designs from the British Museum. 

These designs were created to embellish sword sheaths, many of them were found with the rotted bits of iron of the sword inside.

The round metal mallet is very handy for work on a harder piece
of stone or for removing material in a firm but controlled way.
I balanced the edge of the piece with sandbags and some extra stone

I had been fiddling with these two pieces of stone for months now, separately. One of them is featured in my NetWorks video; I am chopping away on it and the hammer is drowning out what I am talking about. The other used to be part of some sort of bench or step, and features a sweep of the edge of the old architectural carving that I wanted to preserve, and use to best effect.

With a bit more heaving the pieces off and on the table, I decided that there was a good way to work it out to have them fit together as per my plan. They were fairly heavy, being thick, so I thought I would try something different. The 'elbow' cut I made allowed for the large piece to weigh down the smaller one that supports it, and I was pleased at how stable the set up was.

Now to decide whether or what to carve on it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The turn of the year

Brigid's Well in Kildare

The year turns for me on Brigid's Day. The beginning of it is of course a bit earlier, but it is at that first bit of February when you get an inkling of how long the winter will be, what the prospects are for the seasons to come; it is the deep part of winter when you can hear yourself think, and make a plan. 

It is, as traditionally celebrated, the very first stirring of a new season. 

This year, I'm making lots of Brigid Crosses for my Etsy site and for friends, and I'm sharing how to make them in a workshop at the Irish Ceili Club of RI on January 26. Another  workshop is slated in Providence for February 2.  

Irish harpist and singer Aine Minogue has some wonderful stories of the mighty Saint and her goddess ancestor- and last year, she presented some of these along with her matchless music at a concert at the Blackstone River Theatre where I was pleased to be able to offer my Brigid Crosses for sale.  Remembering that fine evening, I sought out Aine's excellent web site, a whole section of which is devoted to Brigid of Ireland. 

Writes Aine:

 "To me Brigid's Day is simply bursting with significance as the start of the year, the opening of nature's door to new growth, new life - possibility. Rituals linked to Brigid seem to connect us to this, to force us to notice nature's cycle, to engage us in the magic of wishing for what we desire, while at the same time seeking protection during a time of change. Brigid had the right idea when she developed the ritual of cross making. It connects us in a very simple way with the earth, with life, with spirit. I smell the new growth as I walk down by the Blackwater river here in Lismore. I move out amongst the deep green-coloured reeds, bend my head to the land to gather clumps of them and again smell the earth's sap rising. "