A Fight to the Death – The Giant Squid and a Sperm Whale
24″t x 25″l x 19″w
White Pine, Cherry, Composite, Brass, Copper, Steel, Glass, Leather
Read the story here.
I grew up with my nose in books. I grew up dreaming of ships and the sea and knots and boatbuilding. I grew up summering in Maine. This all came together in a book published by Yankee Magazine‘s, Yankees Under Sail. I pored over this book day and night. My grandfather had a copy, too and I pored over his when visiting.
There were a few illustrations that made such a strong impression on me. Those impressions are so strong that they still rise to the surface from time-to-time.
Recently I carved a sea-serpent — a serpent with ties to my Indiana town — but in my head I was carving those serpents from the pages of Yankees Under Sail.
About a year ago I drew this in one of my ever-present Moleskin notebooks.
This drawing festered in my brain until I created this.
A friend, Kitty Fenstermaker, asked where this idea began. It took me about 30 seconds to pinpoint the beginnings of this artwork. It was this illustration from Yankees Under Sail.
One never knows where these things will lead. I’ve opened the door. I suspect that there will be more giant squids and sperm whales in the future.
This big boy was carved for Blue Indy, the upcoming first Friday show at the Harrison Center for the Arts.
I wanted to produce a piece in a larger scale than usual. Creating a large blue whale seemed
to be the perfect project. Not only was I challenged by the size, the whale provided a great canvas for exploring layers of color and texture.
White Pine, Tinplate, Glass, Steel and Paper
32″l x 13″w x 17″t
I’ve been stocking The Artisan’s Bench in Brighton, Michigan with a very complete representation of my work. I’ve been sending off groups of pieces as they are finished. The gallery is as enthusiastic as I am about including 50 Little Birds.
The pieces in the photo on the left have arrived at the gallery and are available for purchase.
I make a big deal about carving only those objects — birds, whale and boats– with which I’ve experienced directly. I won’t carve a bird until I’ve had a direct experience with that bird….or boat…or whale. Usually these connections are direct and obvious. Narwhals? Not so much.
My fascination with narwhals is based on an experience that may — on the surface — appear trivial. To a whale-polar expedition-wooden boat obsessed six-year-old it was significant.
In my little corner of Maine, the Schooner Bowdoin and her skipper, Admiral Donald MacMillan, were our home team of polar expeditions. She was built in East Boothbay in 1921 and mounted many of her 29 polar expeditions from Boothbay Harbor.
After retirement many folks had ideas for her future. She served in various roles and a dude schooner, charter and training vessel.
Sometime, in the late 1960s, she spent a summer, or two, tied alongside a wharf on the west side of Boothbay Harbor.
One of those summers little Geoff and his father were invited aboard for a tour. I was about six at the time and remember almost nothing.
The one detail that remains crystal clear was the handrail that I gripped as I descended the companionway ladder into the main saloon — a twisted narwhal tusk.
There are things that grip a little boys mind. That narwhal tusk was just the thing. Since then — close to 50 years later — I can still feel the twist, the gnarl and the wonder of that tusk.
The Bowdoin has undergone several restorations since that day in the late 1960s. I wonder if the narwhal tusk remains. I’d love to duck below, holding on to that rail again.
Why do I carve narwhals? I carve narwhals so that I can feel the wonder and awe of the six-year-old boy again.
These are available to purchase. Simply click the Etsy banner to the right. You can get a 25% discount with the coupon code SHOPHANDMADE.
Photos of 12″ Sperm Whale. I’ve another on the bench as well as a similar but much larger (24″) one.