This term I've been working on a piece of Cenerino alabaster carving a chameleon and also some white Spanish alabaster to carve a magnolia pod. Have to confess, not got very far with either! I've got a lot of photographic reference for both - our Magnolia Soulangeana produces these amazing seed pods every year that start out red and gradually darken till they become black and drop off the tree. Their seeds are bright glossy red and the whole pod looks rather prehistoric. I've made some maquettes and after completing some preliminary shaping, last week I started to carve the pods.
The Chameleon is progressing more slowly. I downloaded lots of images from the internet but also photographed some preserved specimens in a museum. The Cenerino alabaster is quite hard - much harder than the white Spanish alabaster and I'm not happy with the shape of the head so far.
Meanwhile, the little fish is finished except for polishing. It's tail fin is now very thin and very fragile, so I'll have to be careful polishing and handling it.
Well, another term starts next week and on with the 'Pod' project which is no longer a pod, but now, (appropriately, as it keeps changing) a chameleon! I've been doing some online research on the subject, but there is only so much information you can get from two dimensional photographs.
Then I remembered a fascinating museum that I came across by accident a year or two ago. It's the Grant Museum of Zoology, part of the University of London and tucked away off Gower Street. It was founded in 1828 for teaching purposes and houses thousands of animal specimens. They have very kindly agreed to make some chameleon specimens available for me to draw and photograph. Seeing a chameleon in the round will be so much more useful than just looking at pictures.
The fish shaping and polishing is in progress and it will then be waxed and possibly attached to a contrasting soapstone base.
But the best news is that my little bronze crow has been accepted for the Society of Wildlife Artists' annual exhibition 'The Natural Eye' at the Mall Galleries in October (19th - 29th). I'm delighted and amazed! (Link to exhibition on the right under 'Useful Sites)
The sketches are organic pod-like shapes with seeds or fruit inside and a textured exterior. But I've also been thinking along the lines of fossils contained in rock, so need to do a bit of research on that. Meanwhile, the shape is much smoother, which is what reminded me of those pieces of fossil-containing rocks that you see people madly hammering on to split open on the beach!
Some more shaping and smoothing done today. I think this is going to be some sort of pod with contents. I've just realised this is another piece of Cenerino alabaster like the one I carved my second crow from. I'm really pleased as this has layers of black and ochre colours which should look very good when polished. When you're carving it's hard to see exactly what colour the stone is when it's covered in alabaster dust, until you smooth and wash it and then the darker colours show clearly.
Meanwhile.... I'm also starting on the bigger piece of alabaster that I had intended to carve a head from. It's cut from a larger slab, so is smooth on one side and very rough and craggy on the other.
I started writing this blog in December 2016, but it covers projects started in spring 2015 onwards, so it was written retrospectively until I caught up with the current term.