In the Workshop today – bird features


Bird sketch

Carving started from a little line sketch, a brief scribble made some time ago.  It is a thought, a ‘hardly there’ shape quickly jotted down so as not to forget the idea.

Then, seeing it again, while looking for something else, it created excitement, and renewed thoughts and possibilities for it as a sculpture.

I lifted the block of Portland stone onto my workbench and began.  I was very sure of the form, and carved quickly.   The head, the fancy tail, the character all beginning to appear as stone disappeared.

One of the great pleasures of working in stone is that it is a slow process, a repetitive one, that enables – gives time for – thought, adjustment and refinement.

I draw on the stone in pencil adjustments to the beak, and eye.  Improvements – to my eye.

Carving progress on bird sculpture

Today I’m working on getting the head just right.  Small, sharp chisels and delicate tapping with the mallet.  This is the time when options get smaller, the stone available for movement of the shape becomes less, and so less can be altered.   I’m trusting and believing in the feelings that gave rise to the sketch and going steady.

Bird sculpture in progress

Once I’m happy with the head, I have the reward of the curlicue tail, which I can’t wait to get going on.  But I mustn’t rush that beak.

Carving a bird sculpture








  1. Comment by Caroline:

    A fascinating account, Jennifer. I wonder if you would consider your starting sketch the equivalent of a poet’s ‘donnée’, the gift of an idea or starting point? The bird is looking wonderful…

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Certainly in terms of it being the basis of the sculpture, its subject or theme, and the starting point for carving. Probably I’m less clear about the actual starting point, it is really difficult to know exactly what that was, so many things all meld together. Donnee is not a word I know – does it just relate to poets – perhaps you can answer the question better than me! The gift is from birds – that I’m sure of.

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