|48" marble shard lining is complete|
Friday, August 31, 2012
“...being the ant, I never understood the pleasure of barely slipping something in under the wire.”
-Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty
DAY 19, Friday: Mid 70’s. Hazy. Threatening rain.
Woo-hoo! Step by step, shard by marble shard, the lining of the hole is up to the rim. It needs some finessing where it meets the surface of the earth, the small shaft descending below the floor has to be re-excavated, and the ladder positioned inside it, but right now, I need to run. The sky is black, wind is whipping, feels like rain on the way...gotta tarp the hole and go. (I'm going to buy myself a double chocolate donut at Dunkin' Donuts!)
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.-Jelaluddin Rumi, (1207-1273), “The Sunrise Ruby”
DAY 17, Wednesday: High 60’s. Solid blue sky. Dry. Breezy.
|Choosing shards, and lining the hole|
Lining this earthwork project with marble shards is like knitting a very heavy scarf. It’s a peaceful, repetitive process that keeps on growing. I lay out a ring of marble possibilities around the rim, jump into the hole (carefully), then go round and round trying different pieces to find the best fit. Sometimes I hammer and chisel the shards to fit into a particular spot. When I dug the hole, I made it taper from 42" in diameter at the top down to 32" diameter. It gives a greater illusion of depth, and allows the shards to lean back slightly against the dirt walls as the un-mortared stack climbs upward.
|Stacking pattern closeup|
Getting out of the hole is a challenge, but my arms are getting stronger, and I can hoist myself back up if I gingerly find one secure toehold on the stacks of marble. As the wall rises, I’m not so bent over. My back is thankful for that!
I've completed over 2/3rds of the lining. The height around the cylinder is now between 32” and 39”! (I still need to dig out all the silt from the small diameter hole below the piece of wood...another day.)
I'll close with two heart-hole drawings. One is like the heart continents of Pangea hovering over a hole. The other shows a double heart with holes through the aorta, veins and arteries.
|9" x 12", Charcoal and conte on paper|
|9" x 12", Charcoal and pastel on paper|
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
THE HOLE ON PONCE
A hole opens up on Ponce de Leon Avenue
And I fall in.
A shiny hybrid swerves.
Its youthful driver swears.
Etta stands on the rim
Leash draping down.
My arms hang limp.
“Hi Sweetie”, I mouth
But nothing emerges.
My feet slip in the mud.
I try to zip my leather jacket–
The black one Mengu gave me
After the zipper broke.
A hand with a pair of feet
Drops orange cones
Around the edge,
And waves the wheels around me.
Etta stands her ground
But is ignored.
I long to climb out
Before the road crew fills me in.
DAY 16, TUESDAY: Low 70’s. Mostly cloudy. Damp. Afternoon rain. Clearing.
I tarped the hole yesterday and it worked! Despite a night of showers and a downpour at noon today, the walls of the hole held! Miss Julie Puttgen, formerly of Atlanta visited today from Lebanon, NH. Here she is looking down the hole after we peeled back the tarp. Everything is wet, but no visible water damage.
The sun emerged as Julie and I walked the grounds of the Carving Studio here in West Rutland. Ripples of sun reflected from the eddies of blue water in one of the four abandoned marble quarries, and flickered “like flames” as Julie said, along the marble walls. The sculpture interns swim here, along with local kids who arrive with towels over their shoulders. The quarries are described as skylights above a deep network of underwater marble mines, tunnels and grottos.
I stacked more layers of marble shards...a patient puzzle of balance and compatible shapes. One side of the hole now has 22” of marble lining. The opposite side is 24” from the floor. I’m encountering those pesky projecting wall boulders and figuring out how to incorporate them within the jig-saw of marble strips. Fun!
Here’s my final two boat hole drawings, keeping the rain gods at bay.
|9"x12", charcoal, acrylic, pastel and oil stick on paper|
“One day Persephone, the young maiden of spring, was picking wildflowers with her mother Demeter, the goddess of grain...The earth began to rumble. Suddenly the ground cracked open, splitting fern beds and ripping flowers and trees from their roots. Then out of the dark depths sprang Hades, god of the underworld...Hades grabbed Persephone and drove his chariot back into the earth. Then the ground closed up again, leaving not even a seam.”
-Favorite Greek Myths, The Kidnapping p.35, retold by Mary Pope Osbourne
DAY 15, MONDAY: Mid 70’s. Mostly cloudy. Humid.
|After the rain on Saturday|
|Before the rain on Saturday|
Nature is fighting back, trying to reclaim the hole. A driving rain on Saturday, the first in the two weeks I’ve been digging, flowed sideways under the protective canopy, and poured down into the hole, dragging clay from the walls onto the floor, burying parts of the two rows of marble shards I had stacked up earlier in the day, and filling in 10” of the 18” smaller shaft with wet silt. When I arrived at the hole site, I was in “shock”.
But after a few minutes of whining, it was time to just surrender to what happened, instead of struggling with the way things were. I’m not often successful at this, but this time I was.
So...I got to work again.
First I removed the now caramel
colored, formerly white marble shards that form the collar of stone around the rim of the small
shaft. (I like the new earthier tint.) I positioned a temporary piece of wood
over the little hole so I could have more space to put my feet. I dug out the
two rows of the thin marble lining that I had laid on Saturday, leaving them
colored brown, and scraped out a pail full of soil from the floor. I laid two new layers of marble, scraping the walls, and maneuvering around the boulders that stick out of the walls. The circle has become an oval.
Next, I arranged an assortment of
the long marble shards along the rim, that Lianides, the Polish
sculptor-in-residence let me use. These are discards from his megalithic stone
carving in progress.
Positioned along the edge like this made it easy for me to
grab what I needed. I’ll have some help Tuesday and Wednesday I hope, when friends come
and hand me the shards so I will not need to keep climbing out and dropping
myself down in.
Etta is free to roam, but after a few days of exploring, she now chooses
to rest nearby. One artist has dubbed her “Sculpture Dog”.
I don’t have a lot of room to bend
down as I line the walls with the marble, but it is a peaceful process. Finding
the shard with the most suitable height and width to ring the wall is a
meditative, albeit dirty, trial and error process–like doing an earthwork jig-saw
puzzle. Each shard has a long, flat top and bottom, and rough, slightly curved
sides, about one or one and a half inches high. I'm stacking them on top of
each other, alternating rows like bricks without mortar. It’s critical to be
sure each row is secure before proceeding to the next level. Sometimes I need
to chisel away an edge to create a better fit. None of the shards are the same
size, edge or curve.
This is how I left the hole.
I completed 16” of layered marble shards and managed to round out the oval somewhat. Rain is in the forecast. I
tarped the hole this time. We’ll see what the space looks like when I return! Three more hole drawings below. I call them boat holes to appease the god of rain.
|2 new layers of marble|
|Choosing the right sized shard|
|Etta the Sculpture Dog|
|16" of marble lining|
|Boat Hole and Tunnel #2-9" x 12"-charcoal and pastel on paper|
|Boat Hole and Tunnel #1-9" x 12"-charcoal and pastel on paper|
|Boat Hole above a Black Hole in the Deep-9" x 12"-charcoal and pastel on paper|
Saturday, August 25, 2012
“A ladder, black from smoke projected through the hole. Looking down into the chamber the two brothers saw an old woman, the Spider Woman, who glanced up at them, and said: ‘Welcome children. Enter...Perhaps you would seek your father?’ ‘Yes’, they answered, ‘If only we knew the way to his dwelling.’ ‘Ah!’ said the woman, ‘It is a long and dangerous way to the house of your father, the Sun.’”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Chapter 1-3, Supernatural Aid, Navaho Legends
|Sculptor Rick Rothrock next to the ladder in the hole|
DAY 13, Saturday: Low-80’s. Sunny. Hazy. Thunder rumbling. A few passing drops.
The ladder is done! (I may trim it shorter...not sure yet.) Rick Rothrock, one of the sculptors here at the Carving Studio in West Rutland, VT helped me hoist it up and then down into the small shaft hole inside the big hole. I’m pleased. This took me five half-days to complete. I had to learn how to lash, how to choose strong wood, and to go through the learning process of trying, failing, and then rejecting the drilling and screwing together of pieces. I opted for the primitive look. I started with aspen saplings that were already felled, but soon switched to choosing my own branches and boughs to get the right color wood, and the correct diameter and length for each rung. The ladder splays out from the base, getting thinner as it rises, requiring each rung to be longer and slimmer that the previous one. I did a lot of tree harvesting and sawing to get the right sizes. Here are my tools.
I tried unsuccessfully to patch the broken rim of the small hole, using clay donated by Miss Ginger Birdsey of Ripton. I kneaded it with thin straw, like a mud roof in Africa, and pinned the pieces in place with those little shish kebab skewers from Hannaford’s Supermarket.
|Trying to fix the small rim with clay, straw and wooden skewers|
It’s not going to work. I didn’t have enough clay, but the patches are not secure. The wall of the small hole is too full of small marble stones that want to dislodge whenever I stick a skewer into the sides. So, I put the collar of flat marble shards back around the hole to create a smaller diameter edge. I left the clay, straw, and sticks in place. Can’t hurt.
|Marble hand-chiseling tools|
I used these marble chiseling tools to trim the collar of stone. Still unsure about the look of that ring of white marble. Not quite right.
|Discarded marble strips for the walls of the hole|
Jonathan, the Studio Manager fork-lifted a pallet of long, flat-bottomed marble pieces and deposited them near the hole. The stone strips were carved away and discarded by Lianides, the Polish artist-in-residence, as he continues his Herculean drilling into a marble megalith.The tops and bottoms are smooth. The sides and ends are rough.
I layered a couple rows of these marble strips around the perimeter of the hole floor, stacking them up against the mud walls, chiseling some into smaller pieces to fit. The idea is to line the entire four-foot deep hole with them right up to the top, but now I’m having doubts. It’s getting pretty “busy” down there.
That’s it for the second week of work. Day of rest tomorrow (Sunday). Here’s one more hole drawing with a ladder, surrounded by the swirling cosmos.
|9" x 12", Charcoal and conte on paper|
Thursday, August 23, 2012
"Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone's soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd."
Help someone's soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd."
-Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
|6 rungs done-6 more to go|
DAY 11, Thursday: High 70’s. Slightly hazy. Comfortable temperature, but blazing sun.
The ladder is half done!
Behold one of my red, blistered, stiff-knuckled hands after a day of chopping saplings, sawing rungs, chiseling notches, and lashing my primitive 14 foot ladder–boyscout style.
I’ve got the hang of it now, and a rhythm as I wrap. My style is tight, and as aesthetically crisp as possible.
Unfortunately the twine is rough and cutting. The big worker gloves are too clumsy to wear as I interweave the sisal, while keeping the ends super taut. Tomorrow I’m going to wrap my fingers in adhesive tape. Six more rungs to go!
Meet some of the marble carvers on site, grinding and polishing away. The noise is a symphony of dental-ish drilling. The marble dust rises in clouds.
|Casey Wright carving her giant marble coral|
|Iva Fabrikant chiseling her crouching figure in progress|
|Lianides-Polish sculptor in residence carving into a marble megalith|
|Louis Lalli polishing his Orca sculpture|
|Rick Rothrock and his marble Unity sculpture in progress|
I’ll close with one multi-hole and tunnel drawing with ladder.
|Acrylic, pastel and india ink on paper-11" x 14"|
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I am Miss mole, clawing into the earth,
Longing for a proclamation
From the Almighty pointing a finger
In the direction of the secret path.
|Miss Mole Climbs Out of Her Hole, 12" x 12", charcoal, conte, and oil stick on paper|
|Cecelia lashing the rungs|
I feel better today. Louis, a marble sculptor working at the Carving Studio, showed me how to create the first rung on my aspen sapling ladder using the boyscout method of lashing with natural twine, like jute or sisal string. He started by showing me how to make a clove hitch knot and how to attach it to a piece of branch that I had sawed to size for the first rung. Louis worked the twine in figure 8’s around and down, under and up the end of the rung and the pole of the sapling. He finished it off with the familiar square knot. The trick is keeping the line tight at all times. I improved on the method by notching an angled trough in each pole for the next round rung-stick to nest snugly inside. The lashing was surprisingly strong and stable.
|Mole and cricket trapped in the small hole. Mole clawed away at base on left side.|
When I arrived at the dig site this morning, I discovered a trapped cricket and a brown furry mole at the bottom of the hole. I thought the mole had dug her way in, but she kept running around the perimeter and it appeared that she had tried to dig horizontally into the wall to escape, but only managed to destroy the shape of the cylindrical shaft of the lower hole.
Ethan, another marble sculptor put on gloves and scooped Miss Mole out of the hole and gently placed her in the brush on the opposite side of the road. Not sure if she’ll make it. She squealed and squeaked like a little mouse. Then she did not move. Moles need to eat a steady supply of insects and earthworms to satisfy their hyper metabolism. I forgot all about the lonely cricket in the excitement of removing the mole.
|Ethan completes his marble figurative sculpture-"Reach" in 4 days|
This is kind-hearted mole-man Ethan who finished this marble sculpture, entitled “Reach” in four days. I saw him starting it on Sunday from a sharp hunk of white marble. It is now Wednesday. I’m in awe of his speed, skill and vision.
More lashing and learning tomorrow...
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
“Mishe-Nahma, King of Fishes,
In his wrath he darted upward,
Flashing leaped into the sunshine,
Opened his great jaws and swallowed
Both canoe and Hiawatha.”-Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha
|Test-fitting the saplings in the hole|
DAY 9, Tuesday: Mid 70’s. Mostly sunny. Crisp and dry again.
Today was a bust. I was “all thumbs” as my mother would say–swallowed up by the whale of this new woodworking phase of the hole project.
I mangled the leafy tops of my aspen saplings while setting them up in the shaft of the well, and had to trim them off. I was unsuccessful in making even one rung on the sapling ladder-to-be. I shattered the rung wood even after carefully drilling holes with the thinnest drill bit and using narrow screws. Grrrrr. Right now I want to bite the drill. I left the Carving Studio early so I could chill. (Breathe deep, Cecelia. Tomorrow is another day).
|Chiseling channels for the rungs to rest upon|
Earlier, I was actually proud of myself for figuring out how to use wood carving tools to carefully create a low flat area on each sapling for the rungs to lie against, and for successfully wielding a small, sharp hand saw in making cuts. The rung wood later shattered. I think the problem was too short screws that were meant for sheetrock, and too old branches for the rungs. I was lazy when I found the long, dry branch on the ground. (It was a perfect size). I really need to take the time to cut the right branch from a living tree. End of today's story.
I bought a selection of wood screws tonight at a hardware store, plus two types of natural twine. Louis, one of the stone cutters, suggested I lash the rungs to the poles with jute or sisal like the boy scouts do. He’s going to show me how to knot it nice and tight. Somehow that does not appeal to me, but I’ll watch his demo tomorrow, and weigh the aesthetics and difficulty of the rope vs screw approach to ladder making.
|Historic downtown, West Rutland Vermont|
I shot one photo of the tiny historic downtown section of West Rutland on my way out of town today. (It’s five miles from my place in Rutland.) Some of the stores are empty. West Rutland’s heyday was probably the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s when the Vermont Marble Company quarries were in full swing. I saw a grain elevator in town, shops and a few restaurants, but no other obvious signs of industry, and very few people on the streets.
That’s it, dear readers for Day 9. Good riddance!
No hole drawings today either. Growl.
Monday, August 20, 2012
“From the ‘great above’ she set her mind toward the ‘great below’...
Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended...”-S.N. Kramer, Sumerian Mythology
|Small hole with broken rim–Hit a marble shelf at 18" depth|
Yesterday and Today: Low 70’s, 40s at night. Brilliant sun. Crisp and dry.
Phase Two of the hole project is already complete. Hurrah! I hit a shelf of marble today at a depth of 18” inside the small hole that's within the larger hole. I bludgeoned the rock with a long, heavy metal pry bar, using its own formidable weight and gravity to slam down on the stone. I chipped away about two inches of solid marble and have now called it quits for the digging phase of the hole project. My face turned bright red. I’m now down 5-1/2 feet from the upper surface. It’s a beautiful, raw hole.
I inadvertently broke the rim of the small hole when I was crashing down on the lower rock. The nice crisp circular edge is gone. I’ve tried wetting some of the excavated clay and patching it, but it would not hold. I welcome any suggestions.
|Test ring of scrap marble to re-create the rim.|
I tested making a collar of rock around the rim from flat pieces of discarded marble. I’m not sure I like it. Right now those stones are wobbly. I would need to dig them into the ground if I use them at all. I’ll wait and see how the space looks after I begin building the marble clad wall–another trial and error phase of this project.
Tomorrow I'll start Phase 3–hewing, carving, and creating a ladder from the two aspen saplings I found on site. I related to a story on NPR’s Fresh Air radio program today. Comedian Mike Birbiglia has teamed up with Ira Glass of "This American Life" to co-write their first movie entitled “Sleepwalking With Me”. Mike described this venture as being similar to telling your 7th grade elementary class that you would be driving the bus on the field trip. You’d assure the kids who might object, that you’re sure you can do it because you’ve traveled in buses before, and you’ve watched a lot of bus drivers do it. This “not knowing”, but stepping out over the edge into uncharted art making is how I feel now as I begin the tree ladder phase tomorrow, and then the marble wall phase. Sigh....Breathe deep...and begin slowly, patiently with tiny baby steps. (at least that’s what I’m telling myself.) I'm whining because the deadline of September 8th is making me nervous.
|BJ Honeycutt & Cecelia at the hole site|
Before I close, I’d like you to meet BJ Honeycutt from Atlanta who is in Vermont for a 2-week Buddhist retreat at Karme Choling Meditation Center in Barnet VT. He is a member of the Shambhala Meditation Center in Decatur. I’m also a member there. I gave him a tour of the grounds, the quarries, my dig site, and the Sculpture School on Sunday. We talked to several students, and some experienced stone sculptors who were grinding, drilling, chiseling and polishing marble.
That’s it, dear readers for Day 7 and 8. I shot a couple more photos of pristine, classical marble block buildings in West Rutland.
|West Rutland High all in marble|
|West Rutland Library-more marble blocks|
And finally, here are two more hole drawings:
|Cut-away of a chair in a hole sprouting branches|
|Cut-away of a chair in a hole with branches and a funnel of light|