I’m A Late Bloomer…

I’m accidentally creating a coherent body of work.

Say what?

I’m cleaning up the shop and finishing things I cut out years ago. I never finished the rabbit because I snapped off the left ear with a grinder, and I never found that piece. I put it aside. Last month I carved the iguana and prairie chicken out of the same tree, and last week I cut off the broken ear and glued on a bit from a different slab of the same tree. It’s not invisible, but I retained the shape that I had wanted.

‘So’, says Iguana, ‘It’s been nice hanging out with you but I’m going to live in an office in Teaneck.’

I’ve often been told that I need to create a ‘coherent body of work’. And now, I have! I’m working on a line of fish out of the same wood in a similar flattened style. Halesia is a repulsive wood to carve; it chips and pops out and cracks, and its dust is acrid and bitter. (Sanding inevitably leads to a certain amount of ingestion. Tupelo, by contrast, is not exactly yummy but tastes like Tupelo honey.) But Halesia has curly variegated grain that stands out in pieces like this.

The Iguana sold at the opening show at South Avenue Arts, so in fact, I still only have two ‘coherent’ pieces, plus a lizard-shaped box out of the same tree. I’m carving the last of the wood, so this series is near the end. And it’s taken me 45 years to get one coherent theme! Now I have to find another?

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