On Sculpting… Skulls

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

The dilemma is always where to start, to find that moment, that place where it all begins.

I premise that this dilemma originated with the first drawing, back in kindergarten or even before – to bring that electrified abstract concept within my head, my skull onto a paper or wall. Holding a pencil and making a mark. Magic!

That was then and this is now. It’s all connected yet we live in the present moving from the past into the future.

It’s an idea, a deep rooted feeling of creating, to make something of Bedeutung1.

It begins with the raw material, the medium. In this instance a large blank of optical crystal – more specifically a 21,8kg cube of Schott N-SF8 optical glass.

Schott FS-8 Blank

Over years I have been collecting all sorts of glasses. My studio is filled with bits and pieces, shards of various types, thinking that I could, and might use for something in the future. I was very lucky to acquire a few large blocks of optical glass from a retired lens maker years ago.

It takes courage to start off on one of these rare pieces of high grade glass.

I do not have a large diamond saw for splitting these blocks and use my wet grinder with a diamond blade to split them up. The blade is too small to cut all the way through, leaving a sliver attached in the centre.

No problem! Just use a wooden wedge and hammer!

Tick, Tick, Snap!

I have always had an affinity towards skulls – an attraction to the bare bone and dark hollows staring blankly back at you… a reminder of making the most of the here and now.

And that is exactly what I am imbuing on these split blank glass shards – Skulls.

Actually it is more the idea of a skull.

Making your eye see the optical hollow and cut references of lipless teeth placed in familiar relation alluding to a face – I intend to engage the viewer on a visual discovery, to explore the disquieting familiar, the idea that in death one’s spirit lives on in the living!

And it is exactly this exploration, this excited engagement within and through the crystal skull that sets us, the living, apart from the dead.

The living create. We create a whole bunch of stuff. Ugly things such as plastic filled oceans and environmental disasters or short sighted populist politics.

Also beauty such as maths and music, language and ice cream…

The process of creating is as much part as the result in my sculptures. It’s a path of discovery… an exciting journey where an idea manifests itself as tangible.

Below are some short films and images to show the process and results, where this magical optical medium is carved, cut and polished, sculpted into a story, into music for the eyes.

  1. Of significance or meaning…

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