Recently I had the unnerving experience of seeing the outer surface of the stone I had begun to carve instead of the muse inspired three-dimensional mind prototype. I saw chisel marks, blocky corners and worse still, just a piece of limestone. My first feeling was not outright panic but certainly intense anxiety. I resisted the carver`s first reflex of frantic chiseling, filing and driving of smaller articulate tools into the stone as I have learnt from blunt experience this leads to skeletal heads, receding chins appendages that defy gravity and grates abrasively against the guidance of symmetrical rightness that I find assists in the almost magical muse fueled flow of sculpting.
So I stopped, sat back, rolled a ciggy (yes, and I make no apologies), took a sip of cold tea (wish the maid could change that, “but he wasn’t up yet”) and thought; what the … where’s it gone?
Sometimes after periods of intense concentration whilst at work I will admit my mind wanders or there are thoughts or environmental elements that begin to bother me. This particular day it was very windy and clouds of limestone dust had risen with the wind, swirled and twirled with such gay abandonment that autumn leaves would have been jealous. I checked under my chair as one of the Dogs [All hail!] has a habit of sitting under it and being rewarded for her devotion with inflamed eyes from dust. She wasn’t there. The birds had been noisy but not annoyingly so. It hadn’t been hot enough to fill their pond-like hollow at the bottom of the yard so they could bathe and drink and they’d had their couple of handfuls of rice sprayed into the yard early in the morning.
So what was wrong? Answer – nothing, just the need to stop, sit back, relax and allow my mind to refocus on the esoteric component of sculpting. As I begun to do that I begun to understand the as yet to be fully formed statue doesn’t go anywhere. It still wants to be uncovered, to emerge into the outside world. I hadn’t “lost” the form, my inner eye just needed to blink a few times and perhaps (not really sure on this one) the form inside the stone wanted to alert me to a need to work a little more at identifying how it was birthing its soul and flexing its muscles so I would sense the direction the chisel needed to glide or shave around its shape, not impale its surface.
I took a short break, made a fresh tea and spent some time lightly touching the stone with my fingertips dreamily reconnecting with the muse and consciously remembering I do this because I love it, the whole process (well, I don’t know about the blisters on my palms or the grazed knuckles and the peculiar hairstyle my mask creates). After some minutes, for myself, I began to understand that the raw state of the soul of the statue is as solid as the stone itself and this understanding enabled a sense of empowerment to flow into me and I’m excited again about continuing the excavation.
I am still at work on this piece but am at the point where I feel the urge to cup its cheek in my hands and want to but stop short of verbalizing my plan to fix up the fine details around its cheekbones and eyes so, “Don’t fret, little one. All is well.”
In the final few minutes of my last carving session I was filing its neck for an increased definition around the chin. And, I felt uncomfortable around my own neck. So, I take this to be proof of the connection between the stone and the sculptor (Not really, I actually felt it was a strange and weird sensation, one that I couldn’t explain and hardly wanted to admit.)
Graze free carving to all.