and now, Mark-the-Sharp arrives on the scene.
an experienced cabinet maker, with a new interest in carving, Mark-the-Sharp turns out to be the Unexpected Essential Element in the fruition of ‘Band of Owls’, there from beginning to end. craft, energy and good cheer all the way through.
the whole process is an exploration and a discovery on all levels, physical and human. wouldn’t have it any other way.
whilst awaiting Andy, we ponder the technical challenges. the initial and essential one being: this Big Heavy Carving must stand upright, symmetrical and balanced: god forbid it should lean all wonky and perilously off-kilter (that would be a different piece).
it must stand square and true (even as a True Canadian). a process that started with Sawmill Phil in Oxford and his precise End Cut.
now as the rough shaping is to begin, it’s evident that once the initial slice is taken away there will no longer be an edge from which to measure down.
so, we execute a series of marking drill holes, a careful 7 inches deep, each one, in a circle around the log.
measure, measure, mark, mark (Mark marks…)
still no Andy… am i gonna have to do this myself?
the first cut to establish the depth, i do with a series of parallel cuts then knocked out with hammer and chisel, effective but laborious.
THEN, arriving even as the cavalry charging to the rescue, Andy.
dear lord, talk about witnessing an expert at work – from the plotting amateur to the consummate artist – long, fluid cuts, removing huge slices, paring away the inessential down to the core.
a powerful awe-inspiring tool, the chainsaw… and Damned Noisy – an issue in a suburban area…
the issue had been anticipated, and Andy had brought along an electric (ie quieter) chainsaw, which proved to simply not have the power to deal with the tonne of oak, and then broke down completely… so we carried on with the powerful petrol model.
when the neighbours did begin to (understandably) inquire, all i could say was ‘over today, honestly, very sorry…’
‘next time, bring the piece out to the woodyard in Glastonbury,’ said Andy, ‘all the noise you like.’
eventually, grim perseverance overcame all obstacles, and the Rough Cut was executed.
and now, twas time for the owl art studio crew to put shoulder to the wheel. again, we were amazed at the efficacy of rollers and levers.
then, for the first time, we heaved the Behemoth upright. hallelujah, it stands square and true.
perfectly perpendicular to the ground, to the measured inch, essential: how to remedy the situation were it not so? one shudders…
there we have the initial form standing.
base waist crotch branches band. and, having laboured mightily to get this far, here arrived our favourite comment of the entire project. our much-loved neighbour arrives, full of compliments, slips her arm around the waist: “it’s like hugging a friend! it’s perfect! did you do this on purpose, or did it just happen that way?”