Geometry of the Wounded Savior

Thomas Grisaille02

This grisaille (grayscale underpainting) of the interaction of Thomas and Jesus and the gathered disciples and their community, has been slowly developing over the past three years, the drawing took about two years before that.  I feel like the end of this particular phase is finally in sight on the distant horizon.  I look forward to seeing the structure fully unfold and ultimately to the beginning the glazing of colors.

Thomas Grisaille03 Thomas Grisaille04 Thomas Grisaille06 Thomas Grisaille05 Thomas Grisaille08 Thomas Grisaille07 Thomas Grisaille09 Thomas Grisaille10 Thomas Grisaille11 Thomas Grisaille12 Thomas Grisaille01

The Flow of Art in Life

the flow01 the flow02 the flow03 the flow09 the flow10 the flow11 the flow17 the flow18 the flow19 the flow04 the flow12 the flow20 the flow25 the flow26 the flow27 the flow28 the flow36 the flow05 the flow13 the flow21 the flow29 the flow37 the flow45 the flow53 the flow46 the flow38 the flow39 the flow47 the flow40 the flow48 the flow41 the flow42 the flow50 the flow43 the flow51 the flow33 the flow34 the flow35 the flow44 the flow52 the flow30 the flow22 the flow14 the flow06 the flow07 the flow23 the flow31 the flow08 the flow16 the flow24 the flow32 the flow49 the flow15

This Dirt Is Older Than I, or Elizabeth Duffy’s Witness

Nigh on two years ago I received an email from Elizabeth Duffy, a writer from Indiana, wanting to ask me a few questions about my art for her blog at Patheos.  She sent questions and I sent back my answers.  It went on for three or four months like that, and trust was built.  In the end she shared our interview in four parts on her blog.  Meanwhile Elizabeth felt the fruit of our dialogue merited a wider audience, and she went in quest.  Image Journal took the bet, and Elizabeth went to work.

Image1

I owe a debt to Elizabeth, but not necessarily for publishing an article about me in a magazine, although, that too is cool, and I expect that the measure of artistic validation it lends me is not insignificant.  It is for her time and her witness that I am grateful, it is for her trustworthiness.  I suspect most artists wonder, like me, if all the labor and turmoil that goes into making art, which purports to have emerged from a deep place in the created heart, is not the dead end of futility that it so often seems to be.  I know at least that it matters to Elizabeth, so much so that she built a soap box and voiced it to as large an audience as she could muster.  More sacred, she proved her trust with those treasures in my heart which I was able to share with her.  That carries weight.  Thank you Elizabeth.  You came along side me and we plowed together.  We even made the cover.

Image3

You can read the article online if you wish, or even buy the whole journal it here.

With genuine authenticity (I know it’s redundant) and authentic hunger, Elizabeth writes for a variety of different outlets, including Image Journal’s blog, Good Letters.   The best place to start and catch most of it, is at her personal blog.

Various Light

Various Light19

Various Light15

Various Light23

Various Light24

Various Light05

Various Light03

Various Light25

Various Light12

Various Light18

Various Light11

Various Light26

Various Light17

Various Light13

Various Light20

Various Light21

Various Light27

Various Light04

Various Light14

Various Light16

Various Light22

Various Light09

Various Light02

Various Light07

Various Light08

Various Light29

Various Light30

Various Light10

Various Light06

Various Light01

Various Light28

Fumed White Oak

fumed oak09 fumed oak08 fumed oak05 fumed oak06 fumed oak07 fumed oak04 fumed oak03 fumed oak02 fumed oak01 fumed oak10DSC_0360DSC_0372 fumed oak11 fumed oak12 fumed oak13 fumed oak14 fumed oak20 fumed oak19 fumed oak23 fumed oak22 fumed oak24 fumed oak17 fumed oak16
The above are eight turned pieces from a single 24″ section of a 24″ diameter white oak from Boaz, Kansas. The tree fell over and across the Van Horn Branch Creek about 10 years ago- We finally pulled the log out 2 years ago, and it has laid in my log pile since then, although I did mill a portion of it. The heart wood is still green, so these bowls were turned green and allowed to warp as they dried. Ultimately all the pieces were exposed to ammonia vapors (fumed) which reacted to the tannins in the wood, darkening the surfaces.

The Champion Table

After about five months the Champion Table is finished and in its new home outside of Chicago.  The woods in this table are Kansas Black Walnut and White Oak (the base uses oak from Kansas, the top uses oak of lesser known origin, beyond my friend, the lumber man), the top features also a small amount of Ebony and sulfur.  The design is original, and evolved throughout the building process.  Central, is a crucifixion theme and the arc.  There are other symbolic elements as well, throughout.  I am deeply grateful to the Champion family for the opportunity to build a significant piece of furniture for their home and living.  I am also humbled and thankful for all the encouragement I have received throughout the building process.  Ultimately I am glad in my heart, laboring to make something that celebrates the goodness of God.

Champion table final04Champion table final12

Champion table final14 Champion table final11Champion table final23 Champion table final15 Champion table final20Champion table final01 Champion table final21 Champion table final02 Champion table final19 Champion table final03 Champion table final18 Champion table final05 Champion table final22 Champion table final16 Champion table final32 Champion table final06 Champion table final07 Champion table final24 Champion table final25 Champion table final08 Champion table final09 Champion table final30 Champion table final26 Champion table final27 Champion table final29 Champion table final31 Champion table final28 Champion table final10 Champion table final33 Champion table final13

The Champion Table Build, Part 5: Carving and Inlay

championtable504

sanding and refining the shape of the legs

championtable501

carving some details into the lower horizontal member of the leg assemblies

championtable502

“C” for Champion

championtable550

the lower leg joints, reinforced with screws, concealed by pegs

championtable551

cut flush and sanded

championtable508

the legs are finished, awaiting only final sanding immediately prior to finishing

championtable507

refining the shape of the arc, the brace between the leg assemblies

championtable503

one of many facet transitions and chamfers across the arc

championtable505

another of those transitions, in this case, the arcs contribution to the connecting joint

championtable509

adjusting the shoulder of the arc where it meets the walnut of the leg assembly

championtable506

a lot of enjoyment watching the play of light and shadow

championtable510

lets of test fitting of the base

championtable511

my son roughing out a billet of walnut for some stubby spindles. The spindles will connect the arc to the top-central horizontal rail connecting the leg assemblies, preventing any propensity to rack along the length of the table

championtable548

here are the spindles in place as well as a bit of carving on the side of the arc

championtable549

another view of the arc, upside down, an enjoyable shape- part moon, part smile, part rainbow, part horns, it is one of my favorite parts of this table

championtable512

beginning work on the table-top again- softening the edges with a block plane

championtable514

after making paper versions, laying out some walnut shapes that will be inlayed into the table-top

championtable513

re-sawing bits of highly figured walnut for all of the special details

championtable517

along with the decorative inlays, being positioned here are some butterfly-keys, which help to stabilize the splits and inclusions in the walnut making up the table-top

championtable515

after determining the composition and placement, all the parts get some double-sided carpet tape…

championtable516

…and are then stuck in place so that they don’t shift when their outlines are being scribed into the top with a knife

championtable518

after everything has been scribed, the majority of the cavity is established with a small spiral carbide bit in the electric router

championtable520

the rest of the inlay cavity is cut out with sharp chisels. The scribe-line is particularly nice at this stage, giving a positive registration for the tip of the chisel

championtable521

there was a place on one of the walnut planks that had a corner that couldn’t get reconciled in the flattening stages without making it too thin- the remedy was a patch of really pretty walnut

championtable522

clamps were used on the top, where they could reach whatever was being inlayed

championtable523

cleaning the floor and corners of one of the recesses for those butterfly keys

championtable519

glue and clamp…

championtable524

a little congregation of butterflies ready to be made flush with the top, the crack itself, will get filled with epoxy, after the bark has been removed

championtable525

cutting out some of the inlay cavities for the central design

championtable526

lots of chopping up to the line

championtable527

there are a lot of pictures of me hunched over the top of this table, because I was hunched over the top of this table a lot

championtable528

piece by piece, being tapped into place with my indispensable two-sided rubber mallet

championtable529

planing the first round of inlays fush to the surface

championtable530

glueing up some ebony for the next round of inlay work

championtable532

the elements of the central design positioned and ready

championtable531

a few more ebony details being cut out at the scroll saw

championtable533

the slow process of accurately scribing every edge with an “Exacto” knife

championtable534

clearing out as much as possible with the router, carefully to stay just shy of my lines

championtable537

my life for a good portion of October

championtable538

ofter hours of knife, chisel, and dental tool work, the inlay cavity for the crown of thorns is about ready for the ebony

championtable535

a modified dental tool in action clearing out the acute corners of the cavities, somewhat appropriate

championtable536

…still hunched over…

championtable541

some of the inlay uses molten sulphur… being melted here in a spoon

championtable542

molten sulphur is an eerie and beautiful thing, if not pungent to the point of being toxic

championtable543

poured into carved voids it marks a lovely luminous contrast to black walnut

championtable544

also very porous- not so good for a table top- an improved sulfur inlay was devised. First grinding some sulphur crystals with mortar and pestle…

championtable545

the sulphur pigment is then introduced to some two-part epoxy

championtable546

the resultant paste is pressed into the top layer of the earlier sulphur inlay, filling the pores and yielding a slightly tougher surface

championtable552

the inlay work done and all the other voids being filled with epoxy, final sanding has begun

championtable539

as the process goes, there are many flaws in my inlay work that need to be addressed. Out come the pigments and filler

championtable540

it is an enjoyable process that takes me into the realms of another of my lines of work

championtable553

then more sanding

championtable547

this marks the end of this second to last post in the building of the Champion Table, I won’t reveal the finished piece until it’s new owners have had a chance to see it in person. Thank you all for offering your support and comments, or just following along silently. I remain immensely grateful for the kind encouragement which each represents, and I look forward to sharing the finished piece with you all as well.