Hello Janel and my fellow carvers.
I have just had an extremely successful few days and would like to share the experience with you. The very first carving I ever made was a small Hei Matau (fish hook pendant). I wanted to make it like a functional hook, as the tradition came from the successful Maori fishermen who would wear their prized hooks when not employing them. Since that first carving I have made several hooks, with Myhre's book, and greater patience, my results became worthy gifts for my loved ones. My friend Bones gave me some whale bone to work with, as my skill increased, and I took great care to make a piece worthy of such a valuable material (I posted a picture of the triple koru I made for my wife in the Carver Canuck thread). Since then I have made many more friends around the islands and met another Maori bone carver named Ben. Ben and I met a few times as I frequented his shop for inspiration and advice talking carving for hours. I mentioned my interest in sourcing whale bone to make a hook for my father and he said I might be in luck as he had a fairly reliable source, who would often commission work and provide material. A week later Ben had wrangled me a beautiful piece of whale jaw bone, I couldn't believe my luck.
This was definitely not a piece I was going to take lightly or rush into. I understand and appreciate the belief surrounding the source of whale bone, having washed ashore being a gift, or being whaled having been tainted. Not knowing the ultimate circumstance of the whale's demise, I decided that I would sleep with the piece of bone under my pillow, and not touch it until I had a vision of what I was to reveal from within it, a carving worthy of a whale's spirit. Weeks went by and ideas began to flow but nothing really stuck out, until I traced the bone on paper to see how I might conserve bone and make multiple pieces. As I held the bone in one hand and looked at the shape on the paper I began to draw a stylized hook that became a Mania. It was perfect, exactly what I was waiting for. The design also left lots of bone for another carving, then lightening struck twice. I had planned one hook for my father, for him to wear and gather his Mana, to become a family heirloom. But if I made two, I could also give one to my brother, who after a year would trade hooks with my father and then each of us would be left with a whale bone hook our father wore, sweet.
Then the most unexpected thing happened as I began to carve the hooks. As well as a few small pieces I used for making toggles, there was a third piece large enough for another carving, brilliant! But how to use this third irregular shape, surprisingly it came to me straight away as I saw the profile of a Tiki face in it. As it took shape there were other images incorporated into it (there are a few, what can you see?). The left over piece, the shape I didn't intend, became the greatest piece of all, this piece was for me, and it was most certainly a gift. I leave New Zealand in 5 days after a most incredible year, I could not have imagined a more suitable memento.