Summer Stone Carving Intensive Part 3: A Carver’s Zen

Clay Model for Widowbird
A mushy clay model for the Widowbirds statue

I’ve come to a realization during the last three weeks of this class:  Carving is my favorite therapy.  Let’s face it, life can be down right frustrating even when it doesn’t seem impossible.  But carving, for me, is like meditation.  It’s a step back to focus on something simpler, more immediate, and more concrete.  I mean, it’s hard to get more concrete than stone! (Sorry, couldn’t pass up the pun.)

When I carve, instead of facing fifty-six separate problems all with their own sub-conflicts, I only have one.  And it’s more  of a puzzle than a problem – which is to say, I relish the challenge.  And it’s a straightforward problem:  How do I make shape X out of shape Y?  Sure, there’s some more technical aspects, like how to use tools effectively and some background worries, like how to use tools safely, but when it comes down to it it’s still just removing material to make the block in front of me look like the sculpture in my head.

And to top it off, I’m pretty much isolated from the rest of the world while I work.  For starters, the bottom of my face is covered with a dust mask with round cartridges on either side that makes me look like Darth Vader if he favored blue, grey and pink instead of black.  And it’s not exactly easy to understand people when they talk through these things.  Then add safety glasses that are usually coated with a world-obscuring layer of dust so sight’s a little hazy even without the cloud of dust I kick up while I work.  And last, don’t forget the giant ear muffs meant to protect my eardrums from the cacophony of grinders and pneumatic hammers.  They work pretty well at dampening the lesser noises of voices too.

So I stand there in my little isolated world, my brief reprieve, flanked by my fellow students in their own meditation chambers and think only about how to solve the next complication in making my stone into my sculpture.  This is by far my favorite problem to deal with.  I feel a lot of artsy people I know need art to fill this function, too.  How about you?  What’s your favorite meditative art?

And hey, I’ve finally taken enough off my block that I can move the thing into better positions where I can get at troublesome places like the bottom!  Next week I should be able to start in on the feathers and the birds!

End of week 3 - front
End of week 3 – front
End of week 3 - back
End of week 3 – back
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