I’ve now been doing the ‘Jade and Hard Stone Carving’ course at poly for 5 months and have just completed my 6th carving assignment- there have been a few ‘other’ requirements too of course but the carving is the fun part! I’ve posted on a couple of the previous assignments, this one on the limestone carving I did, this one on some early pieces, another done part-way through my ‘free form’ assignment, followed by this one on the finished articles done in the free form section. It goes without saying I am loving the whole experience and each day brings something new.
Yesterday I was given my results for the ‘discs’ assignment. We were required to produce 4 discs and what we did with these was pretty much open-ended as is the case with most of our assignments- they want us to explore our creativity and use our imagination as much as possible with in a few conditions and to extend our skills in the use of the various pieces of technology we have available. A few key words pop up and in this case ‘curve’, ‘centred’, ‘concave’, ‘binding’ were a few of those key words.
The basic disc shape isn’t a biggy as we can use a range of core-drills to cut our blanks (of different sizes if we wish) but from here it is the eye that is most important and technique when removing excess to create symmetry and even curvature to the surfaces of our discs. What we do to decorate or enhance the surface of our discs is the open-ended part. It is not to say a simple, clean greenstone disc isn’t a thing of beauty- it certainly can be exquisite, but an important part of the course title ‘…and Hard Stone’ resonates with me. There are so many beautiful stones available to us that don’t have the same translucency the ‘pure jade’ has but have colours and patterns that just cry out to be presented in one form or another.
I made my first disc way back when I found a piece of dark, dark grey streaked obsidian that took my eye when we were carving asymmetric drops and I played around with a simple disc form. What pleased me most about this little exercise was that I didn’t use any core drill or tool to create my circle but relied on my senses. It worked out OK!!
Just to emphasise the point about stone other than the ‘traditional’ greenstone/jade/pounamu that has translucency (that’s when you can see the light through the stone, to varying degrees) this is made from one of the many serpentines that are found down this way. The colours are delicious, and the patterns that can be found are endless. It is also classed as ‘pounamu’ but is a small step away from being true jade.This another piece of serpentine- very dark and with almost no internal features but veru handsome indeed. One of the elements we were to use was ‘concave’ and so I put a simple dish in the centre. Of course this can be as large as the stone allows, and can also god sufficiently deep to enable light to show through even the least translucent stones. It wasn’t my intention here because the dinky little feature that the suspension comes from wasn’t by design! There was a flaw through the piece and as I worked on the curvature of the faces a section of the side broke away! Never say die!! I simply smoothed this off and made it a feature and it also provided me with plenty of stone to carve a groove to take a hidden cord.One of my favourite stones is Marsden Jade because of the wonderful variety of colours you can get in it. This disc is about 6-7mm thick and this sets good challenges to get the even curvature across the faces right but given it is also nearly 7cm across it provides plenty of surface to show off those lovely colours.
I was watching the tutor work on some discs he was doing and he’d had a corporate commission to make a number of large discs. As I’ve intimated with the Marsden disc the bigger the disc is across the greater the challenges of getting the even curvature and good, straight edges. This being so I thought, “I’ve gotta make one!!” Unfortunately the serpentine that I really wanted to use had a couple of fractures (so I used it to make the 6cm dark serp disc above) but there was another nice slab in the ‘goodies box’ so I cut a large (about 18cm) disc and started working it. It was real challenge to keep at it so that there was no flat centre and to preserve enough ‘meat’ at the edge for final finishing without losing the round. Being such a size I thought few would wear such a sized pendant so I cut one of the beach stones I had picked up in half and made a base for it. The base is another nice serpentine- very dark with just hints of colour and patterning. It did have a serious fracture that was going to be very obvious and while it would probably have been OK to leave it rough with the argument that it was just a beach stone “…and they have cracks in them” I thought some surface carving to remove the crack and enhance the face might be the go, so…I had a very dark, almost black piece of serpentine that could possibly be Australian Black Jade that I made into a wee bowl. It is very deep so I had the perplexing problem of how to suspend it. It wouldn’t sit properly if I had simply drilled a hole at the rim and hung it from there, and I thought that the only option for a mid-piece suspension would require two holes which wouldn’t look flash in the middle of the bowl. I then had a bit of a brain-wave- put some fruit in the bowl to disguise any holes! As you can see this I did and I threaded the jade bead ‘fruit’ and took the cords through a shaped silver collar that makes the fruit sit flat, bound it off so it doesn’t slip around, and added a couple of similar jade beads to the ends of the cords to finish the theme off. Nice.
Discs will feature again before long when we are challenged to make a range of pieces that feature the koru as their dominant design element and I already have a couple of ideas about the koru form being carved into the surface of a disc to not only feature the design element but also bring translucency into play.