At the time I moved to California in 1978, I had been weaving small tapestries for wedding gifts. When I attended the annual Conference of Northern California Handweavers I saw complex pattern weaves, luscious chenille scarves, and innovative and experimental hand woven items which gave me new ideas for weaving projects.
With my family, I visited beaches north and south of San Francisco looking for shells, and I’d come home with pieces of driftwood. I wanted to incorporate the driftwood with woven fabric to make wall pieces.
The problem with driftwood is that part of it is interesting but the ends tend to be ragged and ugly. I wanted to be able to improve those ends, so I took several wood carving classes through the Livermore Recreation Department.
Of course the classes were set up with definite projects to learn to use the gauges properly and safely. So before I got to the driftwood, I made samples and a finished relief carving. A relief is where a shape is carved out of the background piece of wood. The second class was for 3-D carving where you are working all around the shape.
A broken whelk shell and a broken Tulip shell from Florida were my models for this woodcarving.
Carving is the opposite of painting, mixed media, or collage where you add on layers of paint and ephemera to make an image. Carving, whether in wood, stone, or a rubber eraser to make your own rubber stamps, is all about taking away particles to reveal the image.
Learning the skills to carve is about reversing your thinking as much as learning to handle the sharp gauges.
By the time I finished the two wood carving classes the type of weaving I was doing had changed, so I never refashioned any driftwood, but if I want to I can probably do it.