Archive for wildlife art

A Face for the Fall

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 9, 2010 by davegerry

There is a date with a slab of solid granite in my future. I have pledged to a friend that I will carve the face of a bear (he has lots of bears roaming his turf) on the rock solid, granite face of a huge boulder in front of his lovely Sunshine Coast home. It will be something like the image you see above..more or less, give or take..and I plan to tackle it this Fall. It sits before me as surely and as dauntingly as any mountain climbing expedition.

This will be no easy pickin’s. I have carved a lot of soapstone and alabaster and pyrophyllite (African black stone) in my day but I have never tackled granite. Frankly, I hear it’s a bitch. While you can shape soapstone with little more than a sharp fingernail, granite requires carbide-tipped chisels and diamond infused wheels. Granite does not give it up easily. Professional sculptors have told me that you can pretty much break your back on granite.

The big rock

But no matter. I have promised to give it a crack (no pun intended) and so I shall. I will don the requisite protective clothing (for granite shards can cut like glass) and I will breath through the appropriate apparatus (granite dust is not a substance for the healthy lung) and I shall give it a go. Everyone I tell this to says the same thing, ‘What if you make a mistake?’.  It’s nice to be around encouraging people! Well, yes, mistakes can be a problem. You really can’t afford to make any mistakes. You need to be slow and deliberate..methodical to the max.. and remove only as much stone as you see fit. This will not likely be a problem with granite as I don’t think it lends itself to great swoops of cavalier cutting. I don’t know yet if I will leave it raw or polish it to a mirror-like finish. Let’s first see how many pounds I lose and how many litres I sweat in the process. Lord knows, if I get too anal retentive I could be standing in front of that rock come Christmas.

It will be a challenge, no doubt, but I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’ve been sitting on my ass for too long. For a sculptor, looking at a solid slab of rock is not much different from the feeling that every writer experiences when faced with the pristine page..or the blinking cursor on an empty computer screen. Sometimes you just need to make a start.


Bears in the Garden

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by davegerry

Harmony, Grizzly by Cathryn Jenkins

This weekend I spent a beautiful afternoon, wineglass in hand, wandering the gardens of a stunning estate in Langley, B.C. while viewing some of the stone sculptures of Cathryn Jenkins. A few months ago I produced a television profile on Jenkins whose great stone bears now grace some very prestigious venues including a couple of the larger hotel lobbies in Whistler.

Nikita, Grizzly by Jenkins

Jenkins started sculpting when she was about 14. She learned from her mother who was already an accomplished artist. The serpentine with which Cathryn works is quarried in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and trucked in massive blocks to her farmhouse studio in Langley. There, with the aid of diamond-tipped power tools, she begins the process of releasing these massive bruins from the stone. By the time you clear away all of that material and work your way through the painstaking steps to achieve a glossy finish you’re looking at a piece that is often as big as its wildlife counterpart and can command tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars.

I’ve tried a little sculpting myself. Certainly nothing on the Jenkins scale..although I’d love some day to tackle a rock the size of a small family car. (My hernia is twinging already).

Green Gyrfalcon

Like most passions this can be addictive. And messy. This is not something you do in a spare bedroom. I’ve worked for years with much smaller hunks of soapstone, which is essentially talc…and when you’re done roughing something out (often with cloud-producing power-tools) everything in your backyard is coated in a fine layer of white dust. Don’t become a sculptor unless you’re prepared to wash a lot of windows. See more about Cathryn Jenkins at: