The model

March 27, 2008

A Gary Snyder zen poem reads:

“In the shaping of the axe the model is close at hand.”

As a sculptor who uses axes, chisels, gouges, rasps and other tools-of-removal, I am fond of this poem, not only because of its multiple koan meanings, but because of literal wisdom in the notion that if one wants to make an axe, all one need do is simply view the carving axe already in your hand as the model to create the new axe.


Not quite in the sense of Snyder’s poem, but now in my studio I have my own “model close at hand” and am using it to create a much larger sculpture of around nine feet in length (2.7 metres). The small model seen in the photo started off as an experiment where I carved two spirals going in opposing directions. I had no idea what the finished piece would look like and was rather surprised at what emerged. Sort of humorous, actually. Like a stack of fish eggs that diminished in size or an aquatic, never before seen species of sea weed.

Although complex in a mathematical sense and a bit daunting to carve, the little model never fails to put a smile on my face much in the same way seeing someone strumming on a ukulele never fails to cheer me up.

Anyway, I hope the full scale sculpture turns out as intriguing as the model. Plans now are to carve a grouping of four of them (one for each finger of my carving hand).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Antjepia June 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Hi Peter,
my god, your are makeing wonderful “things”, I am touched by your depth, love and willingsness, to feel!
I must send you some pictures of my work, but I always struggle with technical Not-Know-HOw…:-))
Also I am too unpatiently to have fotograhers take good pictures and so I am rarely happy with the 2D results…..
I wonder, how you make your homepage, it is a gorgous idea to share your processes during the work. The whole idea of your homepage I find truly inspiring – and when I think of the technical difficulties to bring something in to the world, I give up…:-))
So, please continue, you bring forth much light and inspiration this way.
I hope you are well, alive and “kicking” . Love and light, APX

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