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Carver Canuk


Novice Carver

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Hello to all of the wonderful creators on the carving path, those who have dedicated their hands to making the world more beautiful, this is my salute to you.

 

My Name is Steve, I am Canadian, and though I love the land that raised me, I am not a patriot. I have visited many countries with differing cultures, and in every one I have found a brother. It is our separation which is the illusion. I enjoy philosophy, astronomy, symbolism and studying the mystery religions. Economics and monetary theory are hoaxes we must quickly see through before a powerful elite rules a slave race, but I digress.

 

Bone for me is a spiritual thing. It's form and composition are testament to the life it once supported. This impression is never lost, no matter the forms it takes or the age it lasts. I have a tremendous respect for North American native traditions surrounding the respect for animals spirits. Even beef bone is precious to me. Cows are enormously powerful animals, beautiful and strong, happy to be peaceful, and well equipped to defend themselves. Their bone is strong and thick, milk white and great to carve. God bless the humble cow! That they have discovered bone carvings dating to the beginning of man, it excites me to think "who might see my carvings thousands of years from now?". I wear each completed piece to allow it to absorb some of my essence. So far I have only made pieces as gifts, though I have met a lot of people who have asked to buy one, I find money does little to inspire me. I would love to use carving as a method to support my families needs, but a debt based monetary system only devalues all that can be bought with it (hence why destroying our natural resources is so rampant).

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My beautiful wife Miranda and I, in New Zealand for a year while she does teacher's college on exchange.

 

I was only just recently introduced to bone carving while traveling New Zealand this past year. I met a spry old Maori river guide everyone called Bones, living on the bank of the Mohaka River (the place of dancing) in the shadow of Te Waka. He carved, and played all sorts of musical instruments, and at 56 he was in better shape that most North American 26 year olds. He shared my affinity for cannabis and we spent many nights talking well after dark sharing stories. I also spent a couple months in Gisborne where I met Marilyn and Ewen from the jade shop. They supplied me with used diamond bits and allowed me to rummage through their off cuts, as well as suggesting Stephen Myhre's book. Looking through crates of west coast jade blew my mind as to the patterns and colors of such a noble stone. I have worked a few jade pendants and copied the whale tale from Stephen's book with a piece of inanga jade.

 

I feel very fortunate to have a forum to learn from so many talented artists and craftsmen. I hope as I continue to learn, my own contributions might aid to the re-awakening of man's creative potential. So far I have worked primarily through imitation and experimentation, but as my skill and learning increases I look to create new and original pieces. It is easy to see the Maori influence in my early work.

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Stephen Myhre's book really upped my game.

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Mania are generally carved with the head of a bird and body of a man and represent a guardian of spiritual energies. I like the inclusion of the whales tale, representing sky (bird) land (man) and ocean. I made this for my brother.

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This is a fertility tiki I made for my wife. Beef bone with paua shell inlay. The red fetal tiki is from horse bone and was a lot of fun to make. Miranda and I are working on making our first baby.

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I plan to revisit this piece as my hand carving skill is honed to create some finer details. I was however very happy with the paua and mother of pearl inlay. Fantails Rock!

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This was a design suggestion from my wife and I was fortunate Bones was willing to share some pieces of whale bone with me. In Ontario we call the furled leaves of ferns, fiddle heads. The Maori word for such a spiral is koru, representing beginning, life and harmony. This has been my first real departure from rotary tool to hand gravers. As I have learned it is the only way to create such precise lines. I have yet to learn how to finish the surface in the depth of the carving, advice is welcome.

 

Thank you for taking the time to learn about me. I have really been enjoying reading the who's who myself and seeing all the magnificent works of art. I look forward to learn about you.

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Hi Steve,

 

Great introduction! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos with us.

 

"I have yet to learn how to finish the surface in the depth of the carving, advice is welcome." Tools and technique. You likely need another tool or two ;) ! Do you have concave and convex scrapers? I don't know if those are the right terms, sorry. If you just have a straight edge, take light shaving movements, diagonal to the chatter lines, if possible, to shave them off, then scrape along the depth and gently take each pass outwards a little bit at a time. Or, a rounded edge tool that can fit the curl and scrape upwards and outwards. There are so many times that I wish that I could be a fly on the shoulder of another carver to watch how the carving goes. I also wish that it would be easier to give the help one might need to "get it" by watching.

 

Janel

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Thanks Steve. A lovely story. I truly admire how far you've come in such a short time. Well done. And I like your spiritual side that will no doubt help you progress further.

 

Gravers are the ultimate tool to finishing. If you ever get a chance to see Owen Mapp's work, you will really appreciate what the graver can do. He taught many a carver here in NZ, including Stephen Myhre.

 

I look forward to talking to you further.

 

Great stuff, Billy.

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Hey Steve.

 

As Billy said you've aome a long way alright. Are all those pictures your work. If so they're awesome. Your journey has been most interesting for sure! I'm jealous. Sounds like you've learned alot from Bones, pretty cool guy I guess. I'd love to sit down for a few joints with ye and shoot the breeze. Unfortunately I can't anymore as I'm a heli pilot and doesn't really mix with my chosen career. Oh the good old days!! ;0

 

Hope all goes well with the babymaking. It'll be another few years till myself and my wife are ready for that!

 

All the best,

 

Damien

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Hi Steve. Just a couple of things I wanted to mention. The tiki is probably the most mysterious symbol in Maori art and folklore. The most common explanation is that it is the Maori version of Adam. A representation of the first man to walk to earth. I myself use tikis to represent a person. I had Norman Clark carve me a tiki to pass on to my son. I wore it for a year or so to give it a chance to absorb a part of me, so that tiki represents me. Then I put it in his waka huia (treasure box) for him to have when he is older.

 

The idea of the tiki being a fertility symbol is said to be introduced after colonisation when the first settlers saw Maori woman wearing several around their neck. They thought they obviously had a purpose and assumed it was a lucky charm for fertility. Some Maori happily adopted this reasoning and this explanation still exists today.

 

But this doesn't take anything away from the beautiful tiki you carved for your wife. The symbolism you've created there has wonderful love embedded in the creation alone. I'm sure it will please the Gods and ancestors and in return help you with your quest for fatherhood.

 

The whale tail is one of my favourite symbols. Once again there are many explanations for the use of the whale tail. My favourite comes from many North Island iwi who see the whale tail as an amazing feature of the whale, that doesn't seem big enough to propel such a magnificent creature. And yet it ventures on an amazing journey over thousands of miles.

 

So they say that whatever hand you get dealt in life, whatever circumstance surrounds your existence, you must make the most of your life, and take yourself on a wonderful journey.

 

I love this notion, even though it is hard for some lives.

 

Just some thoughts, Steve. Hope this finds you well, Billy.

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Thank you all for the thoughtful comments, it is truly good fortune to find oneself welcomed into such a community. Every time I visit I continue to be amazed by the works posted. I know I am fortunate to have progressed so quickly but I also understand the importance of patience and getting a solid grip on the basics. The fastest way to ruin a piece is to try and force it before its time. Yes Irish all of the pictures posted above are my carvings, of course I did select only ones I was really happy with. I also do quite a bit of digital photography and was influenced to take some glamor shots of my carvings, a la Brian Brake's style, after spending days in the Gisborne library looking through Maori art books. Maybe some day I can make trips to photograph some of the great artist's work from the carving path. Thanks Billy for the further information on the Tiki and whale tail, I believe there should be sensitivity when borrowing from other cultures, and symbols should always be used in their proper context. Maori culture has really impressed me, so any interesting history and tradition you are willing to share is always welcome, maybe we'll get the chance to rub noses some day.

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"This has been my first real departure from rotary tool to hand gravers. As I have learned it is the only way to create such precise lines. "

 

This isn't precisely true.

Especially if you haven't tried the inverted cone shaped burrs. It takes a very steady hand and a lot of patience, but VERY precise lines are possible with a flexshaft. I do recommend getting a Foredom, as there is less vibration to fight.

 

LJ (who ONLY carves with a flexshaft rotary motor.)

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You're right Triple D, I haven't really delved completely into the realm of rotary tool bits so it is exciting to find there are still some techniques that can help me up the level of my carving. For now I have been using flex shafts, and did have the good fortune of starting on a foredom but more recently have had to rely on the cheapest make of rotary tool (lots of vibration) and only a small selection of bits. I am returning to Canada soon and will begin investing in proper tools. If you could make a picture of a base set of bits you would suggest that would really help get me started, cheers.

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You're right Triple D, I haven't really delved completely into the realm of rotary tool bits so it is exciting to find there are still some techniques that can help me up the level of my carving. For now I have been using flex shafts, and did have the good fortune of starting on a foredom but more recently have had to rely on the cheapest make of rotary tool (lots of vibration) and only a small selection of bits. I am returning to Canada soon and will begin investing in proper tools. If you could make a picture of a base set of bits you would suggest that would really help get me started, cheers.

 

I could link you to the bits I'd suggest at a good supplier if you like.

LJ

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