Sculpting in Canadian Winter

Minus temperatures are not conducive to sculpting – especially when you’re working on stone that has beenSONY DSC imported from a country with a warmer climate.

Much – possibly even most – stone is filled with occlusions and hairline fractures. In the elements – and with any humidity at all, these tiny cracks contain moisture. Water expands when frozen.  I have see huge and seemingly flawless stones from Africa simply come apart in the Canadian winter. The moisture freezes, two sections of stone are quietly but inexorably pushed apart and then presto – one stone becomes two.

When this is combined with the impact introduced by hammer and chisel – this danger of fracturing increases ten-fold. Besides which, holding and swinging a sledgehammer when the thermometer is below zero is physically demanding and even a bit painful.

So during the winter months, our “studio” – which is normally our backyard – moves indoors. Our garage is crowded with inefficiently stored stuff – including rock – so the space is small, cluttered, unventilated (which is important when you’re dealing with fine stone dust), dirty, unheated and has poor lighting. But it’s all we have, so we use it.

SONY DSCIt’s less surprising that our production drops off than it is that we manage any production at all. But with a space heater, face masks, gloves and coats and a great deal of determination, we usually manage to do a few sculptures each winter. We don’t generally complete them, because wet sanding with icy water is not a prefered activity. But this past winter, Laura and I each managed to complete a sculpture before it got really cold. And we each brought several sculptures through the dry sanding stage – so when the weather finally warmed up, we were ready to start finishing them.

Laura was first out of the gate with a little piece called “Summer Breeze” – no doubt inspired by some sort of wish fulfillment fantasy.

I had several pieces in a row break, but finally managed to finish a tiny piece called “Grendel Cubed.”

Similarly inspired by a series of breaks (you can read more about this at our website) Laura finished a sculpture she called “Go with the Flow.”

Over the next week or two, we’ll be posting several other new pieces including Laura’s springstone piece called “Reverence” my serpentine sculpture called “The Elf Queen Contemplates” and another small serpentine piece that has yet to settle on a final name, but is currently going by the name “Dhammalion” after a character from my novel in progress.SONY DSC

After this rash of completed pieces – Laura was able to return to her magnum opus (5 feet tall and 400 lbs) “Dancing With My Baby” – which she should complete before we head to our sculptors workshop in mid-summer. And I am carving my first ever Springstone sculpture – a female hooded figure that manages to be pretty even without a body…


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