Saturday, 25 August 2012

Fox and his Companions

It began with a fox. I've always had an affinity with foxes, there is something about them that I can't resist. Maybe it's their curious nature and stubborn determination? Maybe it's their resourcefulness or that playful streak? Whatever it is, there is a charm about them that grabs me every time.

Many years ago when I worked as a security guard I 'befriended' a family of foxes who had their den under a trailer parked over on the far side of the car park. Anyone who has ever worked in security will know that a 12 hour night shift can be interminably long and that you take companionship where ever you can find it. I've yet to meet a night security guard who hasn't, at some point in his career, become very attached to one or more species of the local wildlife. I loved that family of foxes and I have fond memories of watching a young cub trying to drag the carcass of a duck (the remains of my Christmas dinner), much larger than itself, back across the car park to the den. They developed a wary acceptance of me and would even, if I left my supper on the floor and kept very still, creep into my office to steal the stew my lovely witch had prepared for me. When the father was run over, and later when the rest of the family was wiped out by an exterminator who had put poisons down to clear a deserted factory of pigeons, I was devastated.
So you can understand, when I finally plucked up the courage to try carving an animal, why I wanted to carve a fox. I've had the idea for a fox spirit staff in my head for months now and I did intend for that to be my first animal staff, but the wood said differently. I've learnt to listen to the wood and for some reason the thick fir branch I had put aside for Fox Spirit didn't want to be a fox. Or rather not only a fox. And so my first Animal Totem Staff came into creation.
wolf carving
There is a wolf,
a badger and a dove,
hand carved badger

dove and ivy carving

 A hare and an eagle,
moon gazing hare
carved eagle on staff

and of course, it wouldn't have been complete without a fox
fox carving
Animal Totem Staff

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name

Summer has seen little of me this year. I have spent my days holed up in my little incense clouded workroom, carving, experimenting, pushing myself through and beyond the bad days, the good days, and the days when I wonder if I should just throw in the towel and go back to the nine to five world that guarantees a wage packet at the end of the week. Wondering is not the same as doing, however, and even when times are tough the challenge fires me and I know that now I have returned to the wood I could never walk away again.
I love the feeling of discovery when I find a new way of tackling a problem. I love the sense of anticipation when I pick up a branch and wonder at the spirit within. I love the endless possibilities, the song of the sap, the call of the forest, I love pushing myself beyond what I think I'm capable of. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but even when it doesn't it is illuminating. A light goes on, the embers burn and I seek the  Phoenix, rising from the ashes of failure.
No longer do I feel frustrated when things don't work out, when my ideas simply won't translate to the wood. I feel my way through it more now. I worry less about how it will look and more about how it will feel. One slender piece of birch sat in the corner calling to me for months and yet I ignored it. It was too narrow, too spindly, to make a good staff I thought and yet it's paleness intrigued me. Cool and ethereal like the Moon Goddess herself...
Spirit of the Blue Rose
Slender, delicate, beautiful. It cried out for a strong, yet gentle image. It demanded contrast and complexity. It commanded those feminine qualities of intrigue and promise, of passion and poise.
Never before have I sweat so much. Never before have I been so overwhelmed. Never before have I felt so much emotion.
She knew the beauty she possessed, the soft romance, the fierce strength,  and she made me work for it, heart and soul.
It was with some regret I completed the blue rose. I wanted to linger a while, drinking in the promise of her scent, the sharpness of her thorns, but everything has its time and it was time to move on...

My Lady and the Rose
Blue Rose Staff