i used to carve   22 comments

Posted at 6:17 pm in Uncategorized

Two days and about 1700 km (1,070 miles) and I am back home in Ottawa, Ontario. Looking back over the summer, I realize that a lot more was accomplished than what I set out to do. I’d been hoping to finish painting the exterior and to replaster and paint the largest upstairs room and the staircase. The exterior is almost completed, but I ended up replastering and painting about four-fifths of the upstairs. As well, there are now trails cut through much of the property, and some small clearings made here and there. The flower and vegetable garden was enlarged considerably. A new fridge was bought and wrestled into place in the kitchen. The front yard is now completely fenced to keep the dogs from wandering toward the road. All in all, I must say that I’m quite pleased with the progress, but also very happy to have called it quits for the season. I worked very hard almost every day and am quite ready for a break.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be getting the van ready for its longer journey to Arizona. I’m looking forward to another warm, sunny winter in the southwest. Sabrina and I are both feeling pretty creaky and will do so much better in the arid climate. My plan is to take a couple of art and music courses, catch up on some reading and painting, and reconnect with friends. I’m not quite sure what is in store for next year. I don’t tend to think that far ahead these days. However, more work on the house seems likely, and possibly the beginning of some kind of arts related business. I will be tossing around ideas over the winter.

Many of you know that I like to paint, but less will know that I used to do quite a bit of carving at one time. Most of my work is funky, humorous stuff. I like to make mobiles, kinetic sculptures, animals on wheeled bases, circus type art, marionettes, and also shorebird decoy carvings. My most active period of carving was in the mid-1990s. Lately, I’ve been feeling some desire to get back into carving and perhaps painted and carved repurposed furniture. That might well form the basis of whatever business I get into a year or two down the road.

This morning, I was looking at these two old carvings and decided to drag them outdoors to photograph. I could have done a better job of it, but just wanted to share these pieces and didn’t have the energy to go to much trouble. The first is a circus tiger inspired by a piece in the collection of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. I have also carved a zebra which is of my own design but very much in the style of the tiger. If I get back into carving, I would like to make a giraffe, a lion and an elephant in the same style.
Note: Click on all photos to view larger versions.

The second carving was inspired by a memory from my youth. When I was about ten years old, I visited a local fair and was captivated by a dancing chicken inside a little booth. You deposited a nickel and the chicken would dance around for a short while. Some kernals of corn would spill onto the floor and the chicken would gobble them up. To this naive kid, it seemed that the chicken danced to earn corn. A few years later, someone told me that the floor of the display case was electrified and when you deposited your nickel, the poor chicken received shocks that made it dance around. Needless to say, I was quite horrified to hear this, and to think that I had been responsible for torturing one of these unfortunate birds. And so I created this carving, entitling it The Truth About the Dancing Chicken. This piece has movable parts – a feature I like to work into of some of my carvings. When you turn a crank on the side of the display case, the chicken will dance. I have put up a little video clip of the chicken in motion.

Just a few more photos. Above is a shot of the gable room – the last room that I worked on – after being replastered, painted, and the rebuilt window reinstalled. You can see the “before” view here.

This is the last photo of the house taken this summer, from the lane just as the dogs and I were departing for the season. In spite of it being a dull, dreary morning, the old place looked so much happier than when we arrived in the spring.

The final photo is of an apple pie which my neighbour, June, baked specifically for me – almost no sugar – just fresh apples and a bit of cinnamon. It was delicious! Isn’t it nice to have such kind and thoughtful neighbours!

Written by bev wigney on October 8th, 2011