Cut Away

Before I lost the effective, steady use of my left hand, I used to love to carve things out of wood and bone.

Because there was no way I could ever expect to receive a decent financial reward for the countless hours I put into them, I have never tried to sell any, but have always given them away to my friends and family as gifts.

I love the process of visualising the desired shape within the material and then proceeding to cut away the bits that are not part of that vision.

The sinuous curves of lizards make them a favourite  motif, and I have made dozens of them as brooches, hair-slides, bracelets and simply as carvings, sometimes stalking beetles and bugs. The Skull and Crossbones –carved from real animal bone- were popular for a while, as were Egyptian-style cats.

I am particularly proud of the little violin brooch I made for my son’s music teacher as a wedding gift. The body was lovingly sculpted from a piece of the school’s original jarrah-wood flooring, laid down in 1903 and repaired 100 years later. The carpenter gave me a partly-split offcut that would have been enough for 100 such-sized violins. The neck and tuning-head were from a piece of pear wood I pruned from the old tree in my former back garden, long-bulldozed now and built over. And I used a precious piece of one of James’ baby teeth, filed down very thin, to make the bridge. I’m proud to say my work was so precise that all the pieces snap-fit together and held without glue, although I did use some to attach the brooch-pin. I’m also proud to say that James’ music teacher loved it.

I still think a lot about carving, still see lizards, frogs, spiders lurking beneath the surface of a piece of wood or bone, and hope I can find a way, one day, to resume releasing them.

amberdextrous amberdextrous
51-55, M
7 Responses Mar 13, 2010

HI DEX, YOU REALLY ARE SUCH A THOUGHTFUL PERSON . I'M TRYING TO BE THAT WAY RIGHT NOW SINCE I HAD MY ART SHOW AND some PEOPLE HAVE ASKED me if they could buy originl. i FELT A LITTLE UNCERTAin because im quite attached to my paintings. i think that your statement that you could never get a "decent financial reward" describes pretty much how i feel. but in order to keep people interested im going to auction off one original a day. i have 400 paintings so i can hopefullly keep the ones i cant let go of andi have about a dozen to good people and family and friends who i know cab appreciate my work. s o laa dee daa

I was never as good as your art work.

Dex, did you see the guy on here who had a hands transplanted> check him out I have him on my friends list. <br />
Your carvings are beautiful. A true artist eyeand talent. <br />
I like clay. I do animals in clay and have them fired. Funny they all lean one way. I have not sculpted in a long time since my husband passed. I miss it. Just today my Mother reminded me of my art work

Thank You for dropping by and reading my story, hussy and kjdng. It is kind of you to take the time to leave a comment.<br />
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I'm sure your father takes a lot of pride and pleasure in his work, huss. Perhaps, like me, he taps into the feeling that mankind has been shaping things like wood and bone and stone for thousands of years, and his hands are following ancient, almost-sacred patterns. <br />
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My word of honour, kjdng, I used no glue. Just the right kind of router bit and some fine-grained glass paper. Oh, and patience. I used a lot of that.

My father carves duck decoys....it is his solice--I hope that you can find a way to carve that works for you as you are now. I had a boyfriend who carved me a small wooden bong 16 years ago. I loved it. He also carved me a wooden nut-like thing that went around my neck on a leather cord. I appreciate carved things very much. ANything done with the hands and from the heart is tops in my eyes.

Thank You, agh and Leisa, for your thoughtful comments. <br />
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In writing this story, agh, I kind of carved away some bits that didn't belong, but I also added 13 words afterwards, to bring the total to exactly 500 (Group name and story title included), which was the target I set myself. A professional editting job might carve those 13 words out again, and a few more besides. <br />
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I do own a Dremel, Leisa -wunderbar Deutsche engineering!- and a lightweight handpiece extension thingy. They are fantastic tools. The main reason I can't do this kind of carving any more is that I can't grip the work securely in my left hand and rotate it the way I have always liked to. I will have to adapt my preferred method, I guess, and secure the work in a vice or other stable hold.<br />
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Maybe I will give it another go soon... I am re-enthused.

I have an idea, how about Dremel carving, using a lathe for shaping? I have always loved carving, I empathize.<br />
I can imagine the lovely little instrument pin, it is surely a prized possession. I admire your abilities, A., you are many faceted.