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How the Griffin Became: My first attempt at stone carving.

March 9, 2012 4 comments

Well he’s finished…..

After 8 very enjoyable weeks full of interesting new people, lots and lots of dust, and taking the tube home looking like I’d fallen into a bag of plaster, I’ve finished my very first stone carving… with 2 weeks left to spare.

If you read my previous post on the stone carving evening classes that I’d signed up for, you may recognise how I resolved the dilemma of what to do..

After talking things through with the course’s very knowledgeable and most excellent tutor Marcia Bennet Male, I decided to take Magda Franck’s beautiful bird sculpture as an inspiration, and being uncertain of my own ability and how long it might take, I ended up not straying very far from her original. Having now completed the piece and realising how much I enjoyed it, if/ when I sign up for another session, I will definitely aim to make something original of my own, and maybe something with curves. I must say however that I’m very happy with my Griffin (and rather proud of my newly found skills if that’s not too much to admit to)

So this is the story of how the Griffin became… (and my apologies to Ted Hughes for paraphrasing his words)

Week 1 was spent messing about on off-cuts, talking to Marcia about what I wanted to get out of the course, practising how to use the various chisels and tools and getting a feel for the different sorts of limestone available. At the end of the evening, I chose this almost A3 sized piece of Bath stone, a fairly soft kind of limestone, and set it aside ready to begin week in earnest the following week (note the proprietary name so no one else would take it)

Week 2 (all 2.5 hours of it) was spent making the rectangular block tapered. This was the one aspect that I would redo if given the chance. The original block was about 100mm thick all round and by carving off one face, I reduced it so that it sloped from 100mm down to about 75mm. My original plan was to so the same on the other side, increasing the tapered effect, but after deciding against this (mostly because of time) I ended up with a block that doesn’t taper enough really (as you can see from the photo, a lot of effort for not much result)

Week 3 was where it started to get more interesting, as I marked out the shape of the griffin onto both sides of the stone and then used the stone saw to cut off the unwanted edges. This really helped me to focus on the shape that I wanted to get out of the block and also had the advantage of creating visible results very quickly.

Weeks 4, 5,6 and 7 were spent incising the shapes and chipping away at the stone with various types and thicknesses of chisels to bring the shapes and contours out from the body of the block. A very satisfying pastime indeed. Surprisingly I lost very few edges as I was working, and the only real damage that occurred was when I was a bit lax moving the block around into different working positions, and I dropped him onto a chisel I hadn’t moved out of the way… Bath stone is quite a forgiving stone being soft, and I suspect this had much to do with my success.

Week 8 was spent tidying up the various surfaces and edges of the shape and smoothing down some of the rougher bits of his body. All in all a most excellent use of 8 weeks.. The only thing is now that I have 2 weeks left to create something else, which is certainly not long enough for something as big as Mr. Griffin, so I have to go through the chosing/ finding inspiration process all over again…

Marcia very kindly said that she liked my work and took a photo of it for her Facebook page (screen grab below, as its very likely to have moved off the front page by the time you read this…)

The Joke Remains The Same… Killing Joke @ The Roundhouse, Camden

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Last night we were at the Roundhouse in Camden to see the mighty Killing Joke who are on tour in their original 1978 line up…

It was a surprise for my Little A. Back in the day she was a huge fan, and one of the things that originally attracted me to her was her interest in and knowledge of, music in general and of UK post punk bands in particular. When over drinks in the pub, I found out that she had every vinyl 12″, 7″ and 10″ that The Joke had put out (up to about 1983/84) along with most of the original early vinyl output of Gary Numan, Bauhaus and Siouxsie & the Banshees (to name just a few) I was well impressed to say the least.

I’d never seen Killing Joke play before, but And had, several times, and in fact, she worked out that the last time was probably in Digbeth, Birmingham in 1983.. which is VERY scarily nearly 30 years ago.

I like Killing Joke: I like the craziness of Jaz Coleman, with his seriousness and his doomongering, occult and apocalyptic beliefs, I like “Big” Paul Ferguson’s immense tribal drumming, and I like the huge sonic onslaught that typifies most of their tunes.

But most of all, I like Geordie Walker’s guitar sound… On stage, he plays in a minimal effort, can’t really be bothered, laid back kind of style, but the sound that comes out of his hollow body Gibson ES295 Gold Top is truly an awesome thing. He looks so cool, almost peripheral to the proceedings, but in actuality right at  its very heart; simple riffs, doubled up through his effects rack, with that lovely deep resonance that hollow body guitars generate… truly one of the guitar greats of his generation.

Last night’s set was really amazing. Jaz Coleman’s voice is still as strong as ever and it’s incredible how much energy a bunch of 50 year olds can generate.  If I was to be slightly critical, I might suggest that they didn’t play enough old tunes, but to be honest the tunes I didn’t recognise sounded so good at full volume, that it didn’t really matter that we didn’t hear Follow the Leader or Eighties.

Thankfully though, I got to hear my all time favourite Joke track, Requiem and I can’t believe just how fantastic it still sounds, see what you think…

They have a new record out next month, more of the same I suspect (hope) but that’s what they do best, and on the strength of the last one, the very good in places Absolute Dissent, long may The Joke continue to entertain us…

 

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