The appearance of the back side of my piece of maple had nothing in common with the front side other than the shape of its perimeter. The callus that had formed to heal the absent branch had a very different character - it became wider and heavier in contrast with the tighter and slightly textured rings coming in from the front side. It was surrounded by light colored textured areas and topped with a natural formation that looked very much like a heart. This side's unique structural elements presented its own set of aesthetic decisions that had to be made, but the real challenge was to unify the shared perimeter elements and surfaces.
The shared elements that I addressed first were the shared rough "tendrils" at the lower left and upper right sides. I had to access whether they were necessary elements to the form and, if they were, were they structurally sound enough to be retained. The second areas that needed assessment were the shared perimeter edges (the actual thickness of the wood that surrounded the the branch hole) - both were very rough and splintery. I had to decide if I wanted to smooth them, how much of each I wanted to smooth out, and what sort of shaping might be appropriate for the form, not to mention how to incorporate the tendrils!
In addition to the previously mentioned decisions, there was the question of how I would eventually mount the piece. I knew that I wanted the heart shape at the top and that the form, because of its natural shape, would not be able to stand on its own. Sometimes the material limits your options, but also presents you with a clear solution. In this case, it appeared that the only logical and effective way to display the piece would be to mount it on a rod in a wooden base...and the only spot on the piece of wood that was thick enough and in a place that would allow the desired positioning was at the bottom of the piece of wood opposite the heart. As long as the area could be shaped appropriately and drilled correctly - problem solved! A closer look at the solutions in my next blog post... stay tuned!
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Cynthia Smith, Maine artist, originally from Connecticut. Taught art at secondary level for 35 years, retired in 2004. Sculpts in bronze, wood, stone, clay & plaster. Her work can be seen at several mid-coast Maine galleries and shows.