Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carving Bone

I was in Wellington and ran across a flyer for carving bone. ItThe workshop's run by a German immigrant named Stephan who came to NZ in the 90s and couldn't leave.

Introduced to Maori culture, he took it on, learned all he could and retuned his guitar-making skills to carving bone. In five hours, he took me from design to layout and then the whole production process. I sawed, drilled, ground, sanded, sanded some more and in this case, dropped the bone in a cup of tea to darken the inner image.

On the reverse side, as a late addition to the piece, we put in a round section of Paua shell, the local abalone with it's beautifully colored pattern. He helped me do all the hard parts like making sure I layed out the spiral correctly. Then he helped saw the twist accurately. Bone is a great medium to work in. Soft enough to be able to make progress with in just a few hours, but hard enough to let amatuers recover their mistakes.

His workshop is great, too. Vacuums in the tables keep the dust moving away, Dremel tools hanging from the ceiling, plus all the safety equipment, just what you'd expect from a German craftsman. It was a pleasure to work in.

After final polishing Stephan tied a string onto it and imbued it with good fortune before putting it around my neck. In Maori culture, the twist symbolized the inter-connectedness of humans as well as the combination of spiritual and physical worlds, in yoga terms, Shiva and Shakti. The tear shape symbolizes emotion and its importance in living a healthy life. AUM in the center symbolizes the primordial sound of the Universe.

The piece is now hanging from my neck. Find out more about Stephan at Carvingbone.co.nz. If you think this looks good, you should see his stuff.
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