A landscape of Tasty Grit…
This image hosts so much “history” for me… It records a construct of rock & stone which I displayed for some while on my studio desktop sometime in the mid-seventies when I lived in Sedona, Arizona for 14 years. I’ve had studios in my home for most of my life. Many artists prefer being able to move easily between the areas of work & personal life. Home & studio shelter the total me. I named this home Up-Willow because it had the large weeping willow tree for which I suppose the street was named… Willow Way.
The hefty ironstone platter is still a favorite for serving our Thanksgiving turkey, but I was then having a bit of an affair with “rough”… that being the term for raw stone or rock which could be cut into usefully finished pieces by the various lapidary processes I was exploring as ancillary to my work as a jeweler.
I began collecting rough material of numerous varieties, thinking I would cut or carve some of it for projects I was fantasizing during this wildly fertile period… particularly when I was designing larger projects like the egg & the backgammon set, which incorporated materials other than the more usual gemstones & were often accomplished in collaboration with other artists working with such diversity of materials.
I still have most of that collection of raw stones, having never pursued much of such ambition. But, being always a cook, I once was inspired to serve it up this way, posing as being at least visually edible, with colors & textures suggesting meats & vegetables… a roast with potatoes & gravy with cauliflower, perhaps?
Set at a place with ancillary utensils of magnification, tweezers for gripping, & with a selection of colorful silk “napkins” my friend Marie Stewart made for my use as pocket squares for the rare occasions I wore sport coats in those days. These were scraps of silk she dyed to make the cravats which I was also sporting
Thus, this playful presentation as a display becomes a rather more fulsomely archival statement, bringing numerous memories I’m intrigued to attempt to share. Beginning with that “cauliflower” form, the whitish brain-like specimen in the center, which I assume is quartz of some variety, which I collected for its sculptural form, but now piques memories of my study of the sculptural form of the human brain, which I was researching to accomplish reducing that form into a gold pendent barely larger than a garbanzo bean as a graduation gift for a daughter’s degree in some sort of brain science from her father. This was a period when I was accepting commissions for working with the wide, & sometimes wild, variety of clientele who found their way to this studio.
There are many of these rocks about which I know little more than they captured me in that way in which stone… from alabaster to diamonds… owns its own attraction & seduction toward being used in the realm of jewelry or sculpture.
Ultimately all becomes personal taste, of course.
Thus, I see a rutilated quartz version of the egg form with which I have an affinity as a symbol of birth & rebirth… plus a cube of the same material nearby, because I love the geometry which brings these initially dull rocks into their glory as gemstones. To the left is a piece of coconut shell, because I was teach-learning myself by playing with numerous materials to carve other than the wax work I do for designing & casting.
I love making a single verb out of processes, usually used hierarchically. I’ve come to believe one cannot teach unless one is also learning… & vice versa. One verb in my lexicology!
Into that coconut curve nestles/cradles a piece of the “rind” [The weathered exterior of a piece of mammoth tusk I acquired for carving the heron birds of the egg. This wonderful carving material is the lovely ivory of the tusks of extinct mammoths, thus making it legal, but surfacing evermore rarely as the glaciers melt. The old ice is mostly melted… progress, in one sense… out with the old… but, being extinct …there is now little more to replace it…
I carved the fish swimming in the cordial glass from a light blue stone named varasite, which is soft enough to allow me to work it with my familiar tools. This piece is a total rarity, being the only full sculpture in stone which I ever accomplished. I worked only a few pieces of stone to any useful state during this period of haphazard experimentation.
I did enjoy experimenting with some enhancements to the botryoidal botrys in ancient Greek> of fire agate, which benefits from shaping a translucent layer to form a “lens”through which the color below is amplified
The horizontal slab is a cross-section of petrified palm wood, with a visually fibrous texture captured to become stone, waiting for some aesthetic purpose. A smaller slab of blue lapis-lazuli sits atop it… a material using which I used in the designs of several rings. On top that a rutillated quartz cube & a small egg made of that same material… clear, but embedded with fine crystals of rutile, creating a sparkly, straw-like interior atmosphere.
Behind that is another piece of the mastodon ivory, which was the source of material in which I carved the birds on the egg… https://www.grbbells.com/the-egg-returning/
I have long collected eggs in many materials. There is a turkey eggshell leaning close-by & a brass egg which has threads which unscrews to open as a container which I used as a presentation box for my custom jewelry. I wish I could still find these, which were then relatively inexpensive, being made in India.
In the back shadow is a spherical “artifact” of cobalt glazed clay which is part of a project of my deepest com padre, soul lover & long-time fellow artist whom I met during this period, Dwight Davidson davidsonsculpture.com/artifact.htm>… I tell our part in that project in this post: https://www.grbbells.com/india-archival-2005-travelogue/. Obviously, there are oh so many more stories… for later!
The varisite fish perches on a pillar of alabaster along with a selection of unpolished castings from the Limited Edition Bells & a mastodon ivory tile made by Jahn Baker, with whom I collaborated to make the Backgammon Set, about which I intend to write soon. That tile was scrimshawed with my lion logo by Kim Kori. [https://www.facebook.com/KimKoriSculpture
Below are several of the Cypress Crotals
Memories become history…