About the Carvings

LIke fractals, every rock has its story to tell; each stone has individual characteristics. In carving these figures, one looks at the shape of the raw stone, the relative strength of the material, and the colors and patterns hidden within and below the surface. No two carvings are the same. You can subtract area from a solid, but it is much harder or impossible to add breadth. Perfection is a lost art most of the time; the final figure is usually a little irregular. Some of the softer material breaks easily, so detail is limited by the material's malleability. Sometimes legs or arms need to be glued back on. In the finished carving, what I like most are the intrinsic qualities of the polished stone (shininess, smoothness, fractal bandings and color) and the little quirks that give the figure its charm (facial expression, posture, etc.)

Each carver has a particular method and style for carving, and preference for material. The Chinese have been carving jade for thousands of years using simple hand tools and water-driven arbors. I like to use a variety of materials, among them onyx, copper minerals, amazonite, jasper, jet, pipestone and bone. After roughing the figure outside with a tile saw, I finish the detail and smoothing with a flex-tool (Dremel and/or Foredom), diamond tips, heatless wheels, and craytex rubberized disks. Polishing is done on a buffing wheel. Most of my work is done dry (to keep a sticky mist from clouding my viewpoint) so a mask and dust collector are mandatory! The latter helps to keep the dust down, but here and there it escapes and a major shop cleanup is required periodically.

Terry W. Gintz

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