Revisiting my carving roots

When you make small things, you find that you never discard even the smallest scrap of material. There is always some way to use every little piece, even if just for a small, carved bead.

This piece started in my bone scrap box on a day that I had decided to make a gift for a friend. I stared at my scrap box, looking for inspiration and an (often elusive) idea. I pulled out a few scrap pieces and turned them over in my hand, waiting for an image to jump out at me.

A bit of backstory... I started carving bone about 25 years ago after stumbling across an illuminating and ultimately life changing book at the Vancouver Library. I had been searching for Netsuke books (one of my major influences) and amid my search discovered the book "Bone Carving" by Stephen Myhre. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to give carving a try as it clearly explains everything that you need to know to get started and develop proficiency. This book also opened my eyes to the tremendously beautiful and skilled work of the Maori carvers.

This brings me back to the long strips of bone I was holding in my hand. When I don't have a specific plan about what I want to make I'll often go back to the Maori inspired shapes that I practiced and learned from years ago. Many of these popular designs such as whale tails and adze blades are simple enough in shape but hold limitless potential with variations. This particular piece was inspired by the Maori "Patu", which is a club or pounder; a weapon or tool. This is another example of a relatively simple shape that can morph in any number of directions that your imagination takes you. What you see is where my imagination took me in this instance.

After I rough out the basic shape, I like to follow where the lines and innate properties of the material take me.  The bottom has a spiral like a shell (or maybe an ear?). The handle is slumping down on this spiral like lava as it flows into the ocean, which might be represented by the blue knot at the top of the carving. 

After the pendant is complete I find it fun to create a cinch bead that works in concert with my recent creation. This one is fairly simple, just a visual accent to the original curves that I started with.

In case you are wondering, my friend appreciated her gift.

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