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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.
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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.