It’s rare that I get to keep any of my own artwork, I recently finished a piece that I started in late 2009.
There was an argillite carving class in Kitamaat Village and I decided to take it. I wasn’t sure how I’d do because, even though I’ve done a little bit of carving in my lifetime, I’ve never considered myself a carver.
I wanted to make an arrow head necklace so I created a design and started shaping it out of a small piece of argillite. We used diamond-coated rotary tool bits which caused a lot of vibration and made my arm and hand go numb after a while. Eventually I got it to the point where I could transfer the design to the argillite but I wasn’t sure how to go about carving the details as I’m not a carver. I had carved small pieces in wood before but that’s easier to cut than stone.
The class ended in early 2010 and my arrow head wasn’t quite finished so I left it for a while, thinking I’d get back to it soon. Years went by and I still hadn’t done anything with it. I showed it as an example of my artwork a couple of times during some classes I was teaching but it was still unfinished.
I finally decided to finish it this weekend. I got some suede cord, clasps and other things from Walmart. I didn’t know how long I was going to make the cord, I stood in front of a mirror and said, “yeah, that looks about right” and cut it. I didn’t know how to attach the cord to the clasp and didn’t do any research to try and find out. What I ended up doing was tying a knot at each end of the cord and stuffing it into the clasp. It’s not totally secure, a good tug will pull it out but I can stuff it back in. I decided that was good enough.
The real problem came when trying to drill a hole in the top of the arrow head. I used a diamond-coated rotary tool bit which I thought was completely straight. As I drilled, it got to a point where it wouldn’t quite go through so I put some pressure on it and the arrow head broke. Luckily, it was just the top that broke into two pieces, I figured I could fix it. What happened was the rotary bit was actually tapered so it got wider towards the bottom and that’s what made the argillite break. I used some super glue and pieced everything back together. I re-drilled the hole with a proper drill bit and everything held together.
I used a lot of super glue, spreading it over the crack lines to make sure it sealed. I did some grinding and sanding and got rid of the excess glue. I did a little more shaping to the design with various hand tools, signed my name on the back and attached the ring. Some parts were still showing as a lighter grey, which darkened when I had touched the arrow head. I just rubbed the whole thing with my fingers and that made it all dark and gave it a polished look. It’s not a masterpiece but I think it’s pretty good for my first try.
Will I make more? Will I become an argillite carver? I don’t know. I have ideas for more necklaces and I actually do have some small argillite pieces I could use. I think I would need to experiment more and maybe get some pointers from an experienced argillite carver.
For now I have a finished necklace and I’m keeping it for myself. An artist being able to keep his own artwork, what a novel idea! With all the art that I do for sale, it’s nice to make something just for myself.
I plan on wearing it a lot and maybe showing it to people who are interested in my artwork.
Below are pictures of the project: