Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Past Revisited

Several years ago I was working in an archaeology lab at a university in England and acquired a piece of deer antler that had been recovered from a peat bog in Scotland. Excavation suggested it was many hundreds of years old. In the timespan, it had developed a beautiful chocolate brown coloration- perhaps from the tannins and minerals present. It was a precious material and I didn't want to do too much to it to ruin or distract from its beauty. A simple vine of ivy seemed an appropriate solution.

The piece existed this way for a year or two without attracting much interest and I started revisiting the subject. Clive Hallam, an accomplished carver of small scale (the carvings, not the man!), kindly suggested that I was approaching the material too delicately- causing me to hold back. I wanted to convey the age of the material through the subject matter and thought that the ivy (suggesting age) needed a counterbalance. The material's origin in Scotland gave me the answer. The pale area you can see to the lower right needed attention. I settled on creating a suggestion of an ivy vine growing on a decayed structure of wattle and daub- an early building method of woven branches covered in mud and straw (perhaps some muck, to boot!) finished with a finer coating of mud. This construction method was used when the antler was initially given its burial and seems appropriate. Some of the ivy leaves were revised with wood inlay and highlights of dew or freshness added with silver. Himotoshi are lined with ebony.

2 comments:

Dave Jones said...

This is lovely. i like your choice for the antler. Dave

Doug Sanders said...

Thanks Dave- I appreciate the compliment and the voice from the blogosphere.