This month I’m urging you to try cutting and grinding your pieces thinly. Why? Because then you see the beauty of the form and, if using translucent material, you also see the inner beauty of the stone as well.
I only tried this because I was asked to carve a remembrance poppy. It’s what I love about commissions – they take me in directions I probably wouldn’t otherwise try!
I thought about the form of the poppy for a while, looked at many pictures of the flowers (I try to base my work on a particular example where applicable), saw that the Remembrance Day poppies made out of paper and plastic are an over-simplification of the flower and knew I could improve on them by making each of the petals from a different piece of highly translucent nephrite, Cowell in this case, and fitting them together in a wooden centre, or stock.
You’ll see in the picture below I chose to carve a young flower, where the delicate petals are somewhat corrugated and still opening and smoothing out. It seemed fitting in the context.
After slabbing the stone and trimming it to size and shape I used my 75 mm diameter coarse wheel to begin to thin the stone.
Following this I used a smaller and finer 20 mm wheel in my Dremel to grind out the ridges on both sides. It meant lots of looking through the stone to check I was grinding in the right places but worked a treat. If carved carefully you hardly see the ridges in transmitted light.
The more-or-less finished petal is shown in side-profile in the picture below. The petal is about 1 mm thick and combines the beauty of the stone in both reflected and transmitted light.
And before I finish, I should add that Chinese carvers have been producing pieces to show off the inner beauty of the stone in just this fashion for thousands of years. So it’s not new, except to me! My next plan is to combine this new-found carving "freedom" in a Maori carving context. Hmm, now to think of a suitable design?!
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On this page I intend to add monthly updates on aspects of jade carving. I also plan to invite more experienced carvers to offer a "master-class" on a particular subject of their choice. With this I hope to enthuse both the novice and the expert in this ancient and beautiful art-form/craft. And comments are welcome!