Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sculpture and "a musing on trees and carving"

photos from "From Flitch to Ash"

What do you do when your life goes up in smoke?.

Diane Derrick's book "from flitch to ash, a musing on trees and carving" takes you on her recovery after twenty years of wood carving is burned. All that is left is a pile of ash and a box of slides.

There's much in this short book for any wood carver to identify with: picking up that first mysterious stick that needs your help to tell its story, finding and storing and carving ever larger pieces-( a 300 pound oak stump), to meditations on what is the nature of wood and what is the nature of the woods?

She develops a scent for wood, finding it in dumpsters and acquiring wood from sculptor Barbara Hepworth's private stash. Diane says she was tempted to sacrifice it (after learning that Hepworth died from a studio fire) but "It is not easy to give up a piece of premium wood and instead, I hid it at the bottom of my stack."

The fire took her work, her history, but freed her from the physical work that carving demands. "Althought I felt empty, I felt liberated. No longer need I recoil from the thud of blows,the glint of sharp blades, the staccato of successive taps, or the ever mounting piles of chips,..No longer need I restrain the impulse to throw down my tools and run."

What wood carver hasn't felt that at least twice on every project? If you carve wood, there's much to enjoy in this book.

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