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New carvings in stone


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Hi everyone. It's been a few months since my last posted piece of work.


I've been hard at work developing my skills in carving stone. Mostly practicing on Greywacke and argillite which I can get cheaper, or fossick for it myself. Once I'm happy with my development, I'll get more into the jades and such.


I hope you enjoy. Kia ora.






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This material is quite a different look than jade or bone. Light and shadow are important elements for this stone and the sculpture. The quiet stone demands much of the carver, as it shows the story and the skill of the carver with the flow and integrity of lines, planes and surfaces.


Thank you for posting.



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Hi Billy,


These are wonderful carvings - I love the undercuts in the first piece - it gives me ideas of integrating two colors of stone sleeved together. What exactly is greywacke? Here in the Pacific Northwest we have some "almost black" basalt that's nice to carve - has an even grain like the stones in your photos.

Thanks again (your designs would be really cool worked into toggles for skin on frame kayak deck lines)

I think you,re ready for jade any time!



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Kia ora Billy, nice work, like your contemporary approach to the old artefacts, I'm inclined towards the abstract too!...it leaves more for the imagination to explore....looking forward to when you apply your surface decorations to stone (happy sanding haha!). Spotted your work on Rongomau (that's obviously you?) If you wanted some Ponaumu you could contact Dallas Crombie on that site, I did that Jade carving course at the same time as him in Greymouth, he always seemed to turn up with the good stuff....he must have contacts.


I thought I would write to you because I can see you are at a place with Jade (especially Pounamu) where I was once. I know how it is in NZ with the state of affairs with NZ Jade with it's sacredness and now scarcity and expense of gem quality (all bought on by past abuse of course, I don't blame Ngai Tahu for protecting the stone from the commercial machine) . This creates a large barrier for us creators who do respect and have deep contact with our materials. All I do now with my small pile of Pounamu is look and touch, it dosen't seem to want to be worked, maybe this is just me but I think its in the vibe of the stone now? Occasionally, for a special piece I'll work with some.


I have since moved to other Jades (Wyoming, Siberian and Chinese) and all I can say is the creative doors are finally opening with this most sacred of materials, these other jades commanded the same respect and reverence amongst the indigenous cultures at their source the same as the Maori do. But for us who want good material to work with without the ho ha of the NZ stuff, these other jades are the go, so freeing in a way. I have found the Olive and Black Wyoming fantastic to work, it's grain is so tight and fully-felted, and the Siberian has wonderful translucency and colours all for less $$ and you get gem quality not the second grade material (nearly impossible to sand with it's impurities, softness and twisted grain) that seems to be available in NZ, the bottom of the barrel I reckon! Shame!


You need to get stuck in a try all sort of jade because it is not like other stones, each is a different beast that needs a different approach to working (sanding in many directions is the key), a lot of the Pounamu could actually put you off carving, though I did find a little emerald green beach float in Greymouth...that was real gem, good to know it's still up in those mountains.


NZ Jade carving culture has a staunchness towards these other jades I know, fools them I say...they obviously haven't tried any other types...or their grandfather has a good stash of boulders in his backyard that they can raid (haha). If you want freedom with this stone you might have to look elsewhere mate. Let's hope we see a brighter future for our national stone.


The transition from cutting to grinding seems quite natural aye, like you I found it fairly easy, just a new set of tools really, the process is still the same. That Argillite is a great stone to work so smooth. Somewhere to look of small blocks and slabs of Pounamu is in those cheesy tourist Paua and wool shops. Right..enough raving from me. Cheers, Jason

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Hey Jason. Thanks for your reply bro. And I know what you're saying. But I am less infatuated with pounamu than some of my colleagues. I am certainly open to carving foreign stone.


I have actually recently become a licensed Ngai Tahu artisan which allows me to purchase pounamu from Ngai Tahu and on-sell. I applied to do this purely as another resource for materials. But in all honesty, I'm just as happy carving a piece of greywacke or argillite as I am nephrite jade.


I don't weigh in on the whole situation here in NZ, I just keep to myself and look after the galleries who have looked after me, quite happily carving away doing my own thing.


So I am on the look out for stone from anywhere in the world. I love doing the larger pieces, and want to specialise in Maori weapons along the way. I would be more than happy to carve my next wahaika in a lovely piece of Siberian Jade!


I know Dallas very well, and we often converse on facebook. He is also licensed with Ngai Tahu and we're tentatively planning a trip to the warehouse in the future. Rongomau is in fact my website and I have invited a select number of artists to show their best work on my site. You're more than welcome to join if you're interested.


Thanks again Jason. And if you have a source for some Australian Jade that you're willing to share, I'd be stoked to hear about them.


Cheers, Billy

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