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Heidi L

They Way We Are, Go And Have Been?

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I was thinking about all the folks here and thought I would ask what got you started with carving? I am sure this has been discussed before, but sometimes when I find myself in a dry spell with creativity in general, it helps to bring my thoughts back to what sparked my interest in the first place.

 

Was it a desire to create the things that you yourself enjoy? Or could it have started with an interest in a particular material rather than finished object? Was it a family tradition that you wanted to carry on? Was there a mentor or special person in your life who introduced you to it? I think for me it has been a combination of family memories at the local art festivals in the Summer time, an overwhelming satisfaction of just sitting by a lake or river and picking up stones as well as a fascination for simply having a solid ‘thing’ that I could say I created, to be enjoyed by others.

Stone beads have a special appeal to me for some reason that I am not sure of yet…and when I see them all I would like to do is create more of them. It would be cool to hear about your thoughts even if the topic has been discussed, especially since we all evolve on our own journeys,

 

Kindest,

Heidi

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Thank you Heidi for starting this topic. Good idea!

 

I began my young adult life as a potter making useful pots for daily use. Some days I would draw the things in my environment such as leaves and branches, insects, tree frogs or what ever was interesting at the moment in the season. Once in a while a rounded vase form might have a leaf carved onto it, which then became a leaf that was shallow relief carved with added clay. The explorations in carving had begun in the mid to late 1970's and grew to a point in the mid 1980's to where I was taking two months a year to explore carving clay, using porcelain and celadon glaze as the materials to work with. By the mid 1990's I wanted more from the material and switched to carving wood in 1995 and did not look back to carving clay after that. The materials changed with carving as the continuum.

 

Mother encouraged us kids to spend time looking at things outdoors, touching tree bark, digging worms to feed little frogs we watched for a while ... It stuck with me, the joy of looking at the small things that help to make the natural world endlessly fascinating.

 

Janel

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Thank you for sharing Janel! Minnesota is actually where my family vacationed ever since I was a small child. There was a local art festival in Alexandria that I loved, as the artists there seemed to pull most of their ideas from nature and incorporate accordingly. There was much pottery and carving as well.

 

My mom would also spend a lot of time with us outside, showing us leaves and tree bark and letting me play in the rock pile at the neighbor's house. She always said that I loved playing in the dirt and with the rocks, ever since I was very small.

 

It was great to read your background, thank you again for sharing : )

 

Kindest,

Heidi

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I started wood working in the 60s. This led me to furniture building as needed for family use.

As a young boy, the son of a furniture builder at New Orleans Funiture Mfg. I Remember seeing an old carver laying out a carving and then picking up his mallet and chisel an stated carving , saying to my self I would love to that.

My career was in the Fire Services for 34 years and as fireman I had to work partime, so I went to wood working, building furniture, repairing, refinishing, and so on.

As I collected tools and my skill got better moved to custom made furniture, to one of a kind art styled furniture, then to wood turning, custom made boxes, some with carvings. All went good till 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 4+ feet water. Lost studio , tools , house. But all is good. I retired as Deputy Chief and now living in an apartment building for retired people. Due to space I do wood carvings in a walk-in closet, and outside sitting under a large Oak and enjoying every bit of it.

Thanks for asking and starting this topic. I enjoy seeing and useing TCP.

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Thank you Ed for sharing...growing up in the midwest, there were a lot of wood working folks as well as furniture specific workers. The area I grew up in was not too much of a drive away from some of the old Amish settlements in Iowa, and it was fun to drive out there and see some of the places where they would sell their pieces. One of my favorites was given to me as a gift - it is a carved jewelry box with curved lines for the drawers that follow the form of the piece from which it was cut. There is even a little hidden drawer within a drawer at the opposite end of one of the drawers.

 

I am sorry to hear of the loss due to hurricane Katrina. I never would have imagined how many people I would meet later in life who were impacted and in what ways.

 

I love the idea of carving outside and hope to do that once the snow melts!

 

Kindest,

Heidi

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I honestly can't remember not carving or making things.

I grew up in the 60s where a kid with a pocket knife was normal.

Carving, hammering on metal, cutting things up to make other things that I wanted more was how I survived childhood.

In junior high school I learned about the technical school training that was available.

I took Machine shop training, best choice of my life.

I can make any tool I want now.

Sometimes when I look at a stick, rock or piece of metal it tells me what it wants to be.

Actually, that happens more often than not.

Wood, stone, metal, whatever has a life all its own.

There is something viscerally satisfying about taking a sharp chisel and slicing into wood, feeling the grain scritch and part from the blade.

Same with metal, a chisel cutting into steel, hammering the sharp edge into a solid block and peeling a chip off like magic.

Cool!

 

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I found a paperback book on woodcarving when I was about 11; may have been a boy scout manual, things like totem poles and cross bows, heavy on pictures, light on text. Thought it looked like fun, never stopped, the book was lost in a house move shortly after I got it, wish I still had a copy.

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What a great question!
 

For me, It's been an incredibly winding path. I was a ceramics major in college at KCAI ('89-91) who also did some work in fibers. I basically picked ceramics because it was the department I knew the least about. Which may have been good, or incredibly foolish, or both. I was in way over my head and burned out pretty hard. I made no visual art to speak of for several years after leaving school.

My partner and I moved to Oregon, and through a completely unexpected and surprising turn of events, I found myself working in professional theater, apprenticed to a wigmaster. That work took me to the east coast for work in a summer opera festival. While visiting NYC on a day off, I picked up a copy of Ornament magazine somewhere, the one featuring Janel's work. The same day I also went to the Met for the first time, and found a stunning little show catalog full of contemporary netsuke- the one with Bishu's ".Harvest Dance" on the cover.  I was completely blown away by both. That has stayed with me. When I got home I attempted a few carvings armed with just an xacto knife and some scrap from Gilmer Wood. :)  

Though I've taken some lengthy detours into metalworking and drama (I'm still working in theater full-time in wardrobe, wigs & makeup to pay the bills), the persistent thread of carving has never left me, and at this time in my life I feel it is time to simplify and focus back onto that practice. 

The intimate scale that invites touch and engagement in 3d- in the dimension that I live in, too!- is what I love about this form. And the challenges of working in the round, within certain compositional limitations. I love that so much of the subject matter is inspired by the natural world, and by expressions of human nature such as they are.

I am still wrestling with the question of "who is the work for?", and peeling back layers of motivations built up since childhood. I'd like to be able to say I know my answer to that question, but I am still pondering and working through it.

Thank you for asking!
Bonnie

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