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Moon dancer


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Thanks for your comments! The piece was carved while mainly thinking of a native carver I met. He was a at least a third generation carver of the Nis'ga tribe on the west coast here. His father Norman, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Tait was very well known for his moon masks and Issac, I think, was even better. I met Issac at a casual get together on the island here and he was working on another moon mask while socializing at the same time. He was "knifing" it finished. Holding the knife right angled to the wood, planing the surface. The mask was made of alder, fresh cut about two months prior when he started the work. He stored it wrapped in newspaper in a plastic bag to slow drying and avoid checking. The work on the inside of the mask ensuring even thickness was finished in the same way. He explained how he didn't use sandpaper and preferred the crisp, burnished look of hand cut surface. The moon mask, because of its size, was often not danced, he explained, but strung up above the proceedings below. I learned allot and became inspired by his dedication to perfecting his lines and cuts so cleanly and I could see how this process infused life into the mask. Issac was a troubled soul, well received and acknowledged native artist who explored different mediums, but still trying to pay proper due to his tradition and heritage. Sadly, he took his own life in a fit of depression. While I have no "tribe" that I come from I still think I deal with the feeling of going "native" when I pick up a piece of wood and knife, trying to discover my own forms. The aspect of my piece that makes me a bit uncomfortable is it reminds me of a cartoon character that just got hit in the face with a frying pan! :blush:

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Thanks for posting this , Nelson, and for sharing your inspiration. Good form. What is the size? Is the color accurate? It looks a bit brownish for yellow cedar. Beautiful wood to work with. I have only ever been able to lay my hands on a couple of very small pieces, but I really liked the way it carved.

 

Phil

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Sorry Janel and Phil- its about 8 inches high (20 cm) Yellow cedar is affected by light quite a bit. The piece was shoe polished neutral but darkens with time to brown. If left outside, it silvers in a matter of days. An oily, aromatic wood, it does not hold a finish particularly well. I'd gladly send you some Phil if you'd like to have some around. Message me with your specs! :blush:

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Hi Nelson. Thanks for sharing Moon Dancer. I think you've captured some of the mystery found in the old works, especially in the pose of his body. Yellow Cedar is a very interesting and unique wood. I did a little work with it in my very early days of carving when I lived in the Puget Sound area.

 

Very sorry to hear about Isaac Tate. I don't remember seeing his work but have seen quite a few photos of Norman's and thought it very powerful and well done.

 

I always admired the knife-cut finish, and made a few pieces with it, and I appreciate your comments about what Isaac had to say.

 

Your mention of Norman made me pick up an old book, "Indian Artists At work" by Ulli Steltzer that I thought had some pictures of him in it. Sure enough, there is a picture of him and his father Josiah at a pole-raising ceremony in Port Edward, 1973. He's wearing a beautiful button blanket and spruce-root hat. I assume he carved the pole.

 

Thanks.

 

Jim

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  • 1 month later...
Sorry Janel and Phil- its about 8 inches high (20 cm) Yellow cedar is affected by light quite a bit. The piece was shoe polished neutral but darkens with time to brown. If left outside, it silvers in a matter of days. An oily, aromatic wood, it does not hold a finish particularly well. I'd gladly send you some Phil if you'd like to have some around. Message me with your specs! :)

nelson you might be interested in the "pou"or whare nui carvings of us maori in new zealand very similer to the native in all races including american indian totem>>almost abstract in some ways give whare nui carvings of nz a google see what comes up ...

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nelson you might be interested in the "pou"or whare nui carvings of us maori in new zealand very similer to the native in all races including american indian totem>>almost abstract in some ways give whare nui carvings of nz a google see what comes up ...

Thanks for your suggestion! :)

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