Sunday, April 22, 2012
No sense in procrastinating: it was time to do right by Peter. I took a deep breath, picked up my tools and looked to Nick for the go-ahead. "Don't (screw) it up and don't stress about it." Roger that.
Buckingham slate is quite a bit harder than the Italian slate that I had gotten used to, and the cleft surface an added challenge I had not yet encountered. As a flake is approached with the chasing edge of the chisel, the carver steepens his angle and makes a few light chops so as to avoid blowing out the stone. In other instances, the stroke travels down a step from a bulge in the surface, which will require adjustments later as the cut deepens. But after negotiating the differences for a few hours I began to enjoy some of them. Like the fact that the line at the bottom of the v is easier to keep straight. Also Buckingham is less prone to undercutting, when the sunken edge of the chisel chews into the opposite plane of the cut, necessitating a corrective pass of the chisel occasionally when there isn't much material to spare. The carved stone reveals a clean, bright field of gray for a beautiful contrast and less conspicuous chisel marks, which if the stone is to be painted or gilded should be kept to a minimum. Especially if it is to be gilded as the gold shines like a flashlight on every wobble, chip and pluck.
Minding Nick's contradictory but effective advice, I proceeded with enough caution that I did not in fact (screw) it up and rather welcomed the opportunity to do real work for a real client. It took me two days to complete, a snail's pace even for a stone carver, but Nick's evident approval at the sight of the finished work ("What's wrong with that?") had the ring of a teacher gladly handing out a passing grade.