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Carving a form that I can envision contained within a solid block of material (be it wood, stone, or styrofoam) is an experience that I find to be both challenging and rewarding. The challenge and the reward seem to be enhanced exponentially as the density of the material to be carved increases.
I choose to carve primarily with hand tools when I am working in stone. They make me feel more connected to the medium and in better control of the amount of material I have to remove. The mechanics of determining how much material can be removed at a time requires getting to know the specific stone you are working on...how hard is it, does it have any imperfections or fissures? An overly enthusiastic tap of the hammer or a misjudged chisel angle can mean the amputation of a key component of the final design. The process to me is definitely a sensory experience... listening for the sound of the perfect hammer strike, seeing the planes and shapes emerge, handling the form, and touching it's surfaces. The final piece hopefully is a reflection of the extent of the sculptor's connection to the process and to the sculpture itself.
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.