There is everything wonderful about traditional or classic art.
In the case of my art, this black Canadian soapstone grizzly. The stone used for this grizzly is from Northern Quebec, the carver (me, is from Southern Ontario) .
The inspiration is simple; well fed grizzly in nature. This guy is on the move and not ready for hibernation yet but, you can tell he must have had a successfully hunting season. He doesn’t look particularly aggressive , I would say more majestic. With the big head and limbs he is begging to be touched by onlookers and at least this bear won’t bite.
I would have to say that there is a depth to this black stone even though you can’t see it in photos. There are some places in the rock that are darker than others, little natural lines in the stones that are not cracks.. The challenge with black soapstone as opposed to Brazilian, Asian or Indiana pipestone if there is one, black stone is very hard. Think granite. Not very forgiving and requires very sharp tools. From a technical finishing point of view, he’s shiny because he has the protection of yes… wait for it… Clear Kote. The protection every stone bear needs from dings and things that might happen when he is shown out in public.
As with any art or boy scout – be prepared. It’s worth the effort to carve just the right bear with just the right attitude and it will speak to just the right client.
Sometimes it might be hard to give up a favourite piece but, when if this does happens, I go ahead and put the bear in inventory and price it , still consider it mine until sold (not usually at an outside gallery but on show in my home gallery) This works for everyone I think.
Please visit the shop to see more of my finished work, and thank you for coming by.
Something about eagles.
A person is either fascinated by these birds of prey or turned off by them. Something like being a cat or a dog person I guess.
All wildlife fascinates me. How each being thrives and survives is a wonder of nature. The size of an eagles beak, the set back of their eyes, there are practical reasons for this in they find food, eat, feed their young etc. I try to capture the essence of the bird even when the carving is essentially abstract. In neither one of the photos here are there wings but, I think most people would know they are birds and with the over hanging beak and set back eyes , these are no budgies. The beauty of art in homage to life.
My fascination has led me from time to time to pull over at the sight of an eagle or watch nature shows for hours on end that shows hatchlings in their nest. I have moved to work a grizzly pup that was trying to get away from mankind (not such a good move if mama bear had been around). Back to the birds.
I have yet to carve a hawk and I am not sure why. The wings of an eagle in flight are very different from a hawk.I feel a kindred spirit to them but have not taken knife to stone to make an homage to the hawk. That might have to be a future project. The peace I feel in the planning of singles, doubles abstract but interesting clients hands don’t generally reach out to touch the smoothness of an eagle the way they do a bear.
The life of a bird of prey fascinates me I suppose. I will continue to maintain a certain respect while learning more about them.
I can’t say it enough. Soapstone is a very colourful medium.
It sounds like I have a schoolboy crush on soapstone and I do. – strange as that sounds. All of the pieces shown above are carved by me and all in soapstone. There are always more colours and densities that I would love to try out. I really want to get my hands on some red and some aquamarine as the next challenges but, this spectrum is keep me in carving bliss.
The white and pink stones in the photos here are Asian and very soft. If someone wanted to try their hand at carving, those two are like carving butter. Just be careful because unlike butter you can’t stick it back together if you make a mistake. In elementary schools the children sometimes carve blocks of soap. Perfect for trying out the carving skills. Butter and soaps don’t have the dust of the actual stone so there is no chance of breathing in dust
The black is Canadian and this piece of stone started life in Northern Quebec. Then we have the big bear; Bonneville. All one piece of Brazilian soapstone. I have no idea what part of Brazil this boulder began life but, I picked the boulder out of a stone field here in Canada from a supplier. Selling rocks is a business and people like me connect with other people to know about those people.
I don’t see it as tricky skill to pick a boulder and turner it into a bear but some might say it is; the magic of art.
This is not THE boulder that Bonneville was carved from but, you get the idea.
If you would like to see more of my work, check out the shop pages.
Thank you for looking in.
Soapstone and Fashion.
Tis the season for weird and wonderful combinations. Who knew fashion and soapstone would work well today? On one level , this combination does make sense. When you think that fashion begs to be touched. Fabrics are very tactile and so is stone. Something catches your eye, you have to touch it, you do and you buy it.
This is an experience that online shopping just can’t match. I have my soapstone bears and eagles and the walrus of course laid out at Victoria Hall in Dundas and they are surrounding by glitz and glamour of local artisans and it works. It might also be the swish of colours, the hub bub of activity. Soapstone is very gentle and calm. People come over and essentially pet the carving, the tones are usually soft when they ask the price or the background and the fashion mavens swishing by in their winter coats are vibrant and loud in a Christmas Spirit kind of way.
So far, this has been a wonderful way to show my art and to let people from the ‘neighbourhood’ know that artists live here.
If I could, I would have brought 100 pieces and set them all over the Victorian house but, it’s not gallery but, a Christmas Market so I must contain myself the best that I can. I can’t carve while I am here, (soapstone talc I think might be frowned upon) but, it is a fun way to show what I do and I hope lots of clients and new friends and old can come out and see the Market and my art up close and personally.
Thank you for looking in.
As a soapstone artist that has traveled hither and yon for years, I thought I wouldn’t be presenting my soapstone carvings in a public space anymore. Stone is a heavy weight to carry from place to place and this carver is not much for sitting still unless I am carving. This all changed when a local Dundas business approached me about being in their first ever artisan show. A Christmas show that is close to home and my old stomping grounds I guess I am in.
Victoria Hall in Dundas is a gorgeous space in the heart of my old stomping grounds and as of this morning there is a dusting of snow on the ground. Perfect for holiday shopping and hopefully of adding a stone bear to the Christmas stocking.
Going to events as a soapstone artist is like moving houses. I have 12 containers and a ton of bubble for a 6 by 6 space. Totally necessary but, I am not a small guy and every piece needs a delicate nest before it gets to it’s spot. Soapstone is a very fragile stone in the scheme of things. Any ring scratch or bump of a sharp object can leave a depression mark in the stone and getting rid of that takes re sanding and a fair amount of work. Hence, my secret ingredient; basically lacquer that coats cars. I don’t always use it, sometimes, beeswax, sometimes raw stone but for events, Clear Kote is the magic ticket. People can look and touch and I have no inclination to put up ; Look But Do Not Touch Signs. which is a good thing when you are surrounded by paying customers.
Wish me luck and if you want to see my work without visiting; Victoria Hall In Dundas Ontario Canada (yes that was a plug)
Thank you for coming by
Same fish different , different side
Okay, I am a fan of Brazilian Soapstone, not so much of limestone, maybe alabaster is a close second. The reasoning is as simple as, that I think the beauty of Brazilian soapstone has a depth of colour that marble and limestone don’t have.This is shown with this fish that I carved a little while ago. It is one piece of stone.
One ‘rock’ gives ; browns , blues and I have left the base essentially in it’s raw state with just some hint of watermarks. A client who purchases this piece would get two fish for the price of one if you think of these things in terms of home decor. Can you pick the wet, muddy stream and the fish catching the light so in one turn he or she is brown and at the next jump he looks green?
The beauty of soapstone. The artist has to work with the stone but, the inherent colours and lines of the stone, lend themselves so well to this jumping fish.
Are people tired yet that I say; soapstone carver instead of stone artist or just artist? Maybe , and the general public may not care at first glance whether my art is made from soapstone or any other type of stone. But, I do.
And anyone that looks at my art or any other stone artist feels the intrinsic love of the colours that show up in the stone. For me it is particularly satisfying when I work with Brazilian soapstone.
I am a carver, I carve what I see in the stone, (yes mostly bears but, other things like this fish as well).
Can’t you just picture being at a stream and seeing the fish jump up and catch a bit of the reflection of the water? The beauty of stone art.
Exhausted Polar Bear Asian Soapstone
There is something about bears that attracts me to make them the focus of my art.
Mama bears, well fed bears or totally exhausted bears. Just like people, bears have personalities that I try to capture those personalities in my art. Soapstone is an excellent medium for me to make bears. This stone is alot more forgiving than wood and has much more personality than a limestone for example. Within the soapstone world, Brazilian soapstone has been my first choice of material . A large part of this began with my mentor; Ben Henry who carves from Brazilian soapstone. Start with what you know. I do branch out into the different soapstone choices. The range of colours and hardness is endless . Each country has a different geological make up and therefore different colours appear in the stone. Brazilian soapstone generally has a range of greens and browns, Canadian runs generally from greens to blacks and Asian the range includes; white to pinks and, there are many more. Aquamarine, bright red – and we could go on. The three bears pictured here two are Brazilian and one is Asian soapstone. Even with the same ‘mother’ rock, cutting off a piece of the same stone will generally have 2 bears that look very different from each other . No two people are exactly the same and no two bears will be the same. Differences are what make art so accessible to everyone and make it so enjoyable for me to carve.