I think the wooden part of the sculpture is pretty much as I want it now.
Over the last few days I've been working out how the pieces of glass I made with Ingrid Pears fit around the sculpture. After several different configurations I think I've got a plan!
It has meant being brave and breaking up some of the glass pieces so that they fit around the curve of the wood better.
This is surprisingly low-tech - dunk glass and fine-toothed saw blade in water, score glass with saw, put on thick gloves and snap the glass. If I've done it right then it breaks with a satisfying little pop! If I haven't scored it enough, or it's a really thick piece, when I try to snap it then it feels more like my wrists or shoulders will go pop ... then I resort to hitting it with a hammer over a hard edge.
Then I take the sharp edges off with wet and dry paper so I don't cut myself when I go back to arranging the glass over the wood.
There's a layer of woodchips an inch thick all around my workbench. They go amazing colours on the wet studio floor. A rich dark red leaches out of the wood that's been soaking up water for some days. You could probably use the chips as a dye, in places the floor looks almost bloody.
Here's how the sculpture is looking at the moment. It's starting to take shape now, although there's a lot of refining to do before I can decide whether it will be smooth or still have the gouge marks showing.
Here are a couple of pictures of the sculpture's progress from block to rounded shape. There's a way to go before it becomes a shape I'm happy with, but the grain and the colours in the wood are beautiful!
I’m wearing as many layers as I can! After half an hour of sawing I'm usually warm enough to take off my hat, and a bit later I can sometimes even do without my coat (at least for a while). I’m really glad of the two pairs of thick socks though, no matter how much carving and sawing I do the warmth doesn’t get to my toes.
The main surprise is how dark it is. I managed to clear a window in the 4 inch deep snow on the studio roof to let in some more light, but I’m really noticing how little daylight there is at the moment.
The sculpture progresses nicely, here are a couple of pictures:
The sawdust I’m making is shades of pastel pink and yellow, a bit like those fruit salad sweets you used to be able to buy. It doesn’t smell like them though! This might sound odd, but I am enjoying the smell of damp wood in the studio. When the carving is complete I’ll bring it to the house to help it dry, I’m hoping the sudden change in humidity will give it some interesting splits down its length (about the opposite of how you would normally try to dry wood out!)
My lovely piece of yew has been delivered! It's beautiful, I'm very excited.
For those of you wanting a sense of scale, it's 74cm tall and 28cm square.
I'll post pictures on here as the sculpture progresses.
To the left you can see what it looks like with the bark still on. Below, you can see the grain inside. Thanks to Steven from the sawmill for trimming it into a more manageable 28cm square section for me (it was too heavy to lift whole. It's still too heavy for me to lift, but at least I can push it about now!)
I have been commissioned by the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham to make a sculpture for the courtyard of Jubilee House, the new offices they are currently building in Southwell.
Two more sculptures for the courtyard are being made by two other artists, in different materials, but from the same brief.
My sculpture will be made of wood, with a band of glass ‘mosaic’ wrapped around it in a spiral. I’ve chosen to use yew for its colour and interesting grain. It will contrast nicely with the sweet chestnut cladding of the new building and the York stone paving in the courtyard. The other two artists are Ingrid Pears and Michael Johnson. Ingrid is making her sculpture from hand blown glass, while Michael’s will be a giant unravelling knot constructed from steel bars. The three pieces promise to be an interesting combination and sit together well in the courtyard.
Yesterday I got the go-ahead on the final design of the sculpture from the commissioning board and went to select a piece of wood from Elston Sawmill up near Newark.
About this blog
This blog, by Sarah Fiander, is about making sculpture.