One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure!
My first time at the MARBLE/marble Symposium in Marble, Colorado, in 2001, I was completely overwhelmed. As usual I was trying to do something I
was not quite ready for, wanting to carve the idea for Against the Dying of the Light (which I created in bronze later) into a block of white marble.
I carved the stone a little each day, noting that it took me about three days to lose enough of the fear of losing fingers or worse with a diamond blade (but not enough to be careless with such a powerful tool) to start being productive with that tool. But at night I worked on my clay maquette, hoping to stay ahead of myself.
One night a kid (early 20s, I mean) hung out with me while I molded the clay. At some point he began a little speech for me, passionately telling me that I was too limiting with my stone. He asked what made me think my marble block was to be a figure? He chastised me a bit for being so narrow-minded in my vision.
It was an interesting conversation in that it helped me to clarify my thoughts on a topic I had not considered before. While he went on about how I should create without limits, I told him that without limits, creativity does not exist. Creativity is problem-solving. A problem is a limit. I then explained to him that regardless of his free-thinking, I am limited by the length of my life (information not at my disposal) and I was limited by the size of my block, which would never truly become larger, as well as similar limits of time and space, and perhaps ability. Creating without limits is just spewing.
However, it does beg the question about the destiny of a piece of stone. Michelangelo's David is the prime example of a fabulous use of another sculptor's
discarded rock. When I left Texas in 2011, my heart was broken in so many ways. It took me a few years to accept that some stone carving projects had to be let go. Thus, I put out the word that I was selling some stone, some with initial carvings in the works.
In 2005 and 2006, Vasily Fedorouk and I taught two summer carving workshops at my home in the boonies in central Texas. Our former stone carving student George Schreiber bought a lovely piece of Italian alabaster from me. I had started to carve a large round seashell.
My idea was to make it hollow so the translucency of the stone would be featured, but then have a small figure inside, as if he was entering a large cavern.
However, I had not gotten far with just the outer shape when I decided that there was still enough of the rock there for someone else to be able to work with.
Look what George did! One could go round and round about this stone's destiny, but whatever you decide, this particular piece of white alabaster became a portrait of a woman!
George sent me these images of his completed work. I asked him if I could publish the story behind it and also for him to tell me how he chose his subject and inspiration.
Read his interesting commentary:
A philosophy that seems to override anything I might intellectually dream up is: Practice and grow. And the question: Can I?
I had not carved a deliberate human face in stone. Stone drapery blows my mind. The point machine for one-to-one copy fascinates me. I wanted to carve something that shows I have control over what I am doing. I acquired an alabaster stone from Kelly that she had started a shell carving.
The translucency of the stone mesmerized me. I had a clay head left from a bronze I never completed. I made a mold and cast a plaster head.
A friend draped some cloth around her shoulders. I proceeded to sculpt, with plaster, the rest of the bust around the plaster head. Voilà, a plaster maquette.
Then, a first time use for me of the point machine. I am just as proud of the construction of the Croce (cross to which the point machine is attached) as
I am the sculpture. Hundreds of measurements and points and gingerly carving through the stone down to the points and ended up with what you see, and, because of the translucency of the alabaster, sometimes do not see. And there it is: ILLUSIVE BEAUTY.
After he wrote the above, he went off for a walk and came back with more about his inspiration of the portrait:
Abandoning a dream is not easy.
The beginning of a sea shell carved in alabaster is the stone I acquired from Kelly. Hopefully, her mental image will be filed under “Postponed and Some Day”.
Hold a sea shell to your ear and you hear the waves rhythmically slapping the shore. They hypnotically transport you to another dimension of the soul.
The mystique of caravanning Gypsies of old is a fascination of mine.
The sea shell absorbs me and I am a visitor in a Gypsy camp.
And we encircle the campfire. Music fills the air and a beautiful Gitana begins to sway into a dance. She is a whirlwind with no feet.
Her dark eyes capture mine and I am under her spell.
The night passes and my heart is full.
The sun breaks the horizon and she is gone, ever to remain in my dreams.
She is an ILLUSIVE BEAUTY.
I think that George was a little nervous that perhaps I was disappointed with his totally new concept as he carved that piece of alabaster that was once mine.
But I do not feel that way at all. I made my peace with my new life and direction before I sold the stone. And I find it interesting what each carver brings to his stone. I think it is wonderful what he created and learned. It is a terrific sensation to see someone discover a passion and keep working at it with curiosity and enthusiasm.
How about some applause for George?!
Find carver George Schreiber on Instagram under @raggedydawg
What are some of your thoughts on destiny or creativity?
Added for Art newsletter 3 November 2021:
How did you adapt to the time change? I hope well. I am a bit saddened because it means that soon, I will feel even more behind (as if I have shorter days, hahaha) and I usually want to sleep more.
In any event, I have many projects in the works, although focusing mostly on holiday sales since life slows way down in January. I continue to add smaller art items, such as prints and even digital downloads (DIY prints) on my Etsy shop.
Have a look and send me requests if you have them.
To see behind the scenes of art projects, such as my marble carving of "When Atlas Tires," join the Patreon page. One collector asked me to show more of the countryside and traditions of where I live in Valleriana, Tuscany.
So, once in a while, I will do that, too.
Here is an example of what you will see on my Patreon page:
Atlas WIP [work-in-progress]:
Join the fun here:
Please let me know if you enjoy these newsletters, and what you think about the big change of direction
for that lovely piece of Italian alabaster that George carved.
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