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.
Dearest readers,
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.
Ladder-making 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

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