Lee Valley - Cover Photos and Carver's Bench

Following Ray Pilon's, Lee Valley Cover photoshoot of 'Celtic Confusion' and 'Dall Sheep 1' in Ontario, the sculptures were shipped back to the Lee Valley Store in Vancouver, where I picked them up today. Ray included two large format transparencies, one of each sculpture, in gratitude for the use of my work. They are spectacular, beautifully lit and razor sharp. The man is a genius. (Ray Pilon's website)

While at the Lee Valley outlet, I noticed they had the brand new Veritas Carver's Bench on display. Perfect for my work in so many ways as I'd hoped, I bought it, the first one purchased in Western Canada, complete with a variety of clamps created specifically for the table. Heaven!

Ivory Tips, Commissions and Tusks

Today was a busy day in Whitehorse.

At noon, I met at the Casa Loma for lunch with Sid McKeown and Earl Bennett to talk about ivory carving. Their interest in my work is no doubt based on the article that appeared in the Yukon News. We had an interesting discussion about ivory carving. It turns out that Earl Bennett is an ivory carver from way back. Many years ago he came to the Klondike and bought up great quantities of mammoth ivory. He worked as a carver for a while but gave it up in favour of becoming a banker. He has a friend, the son of the person who hired him many, many years ago, whose name is Bill Diment, who is an ivory carver today, and we discussed the possibility of travelling to see Bill in order to share our common interest.

Earl explained that PEG, or polyethylene glycol is useful as a preservative to stabilize ivory, if the tusk is submersed in the PEG when the ivory is still wet. The PEG replaces the water in the ivory and prevents the ivory from drying out.

Earl informed me that Erbach, a city in Germany, has been devoted to the art of ivory carving for hundreds of years. Also Dieppe, France, has quite a large population of ivory carvers.

Earl’s idea for a project is to cut a tusk up in cross section, carve it, and then stitch it back together again with sinew. That way the natural forces of the tusk won’t disintegrate the tusk while it’s being carved, and the tusk will be easier to work. I’m not sure about this idea, but it is something to consider.

Later in the day, after meetings of the Association of Yukon Communities, I spoke with the Mayor of Dawson City, Glen Everett, who wanted to commission me to create an ivory handle for the Mayor’s gavel (later changed to the 'Five Dawson Broaches'). Larry Bagnell, the administrator for the Association of Yukon Communities, commissioned me to carve a wolf in ivory (later changed to the 'Shooting of Dan McGrew').

After the meeting, at four, I visited Alex Seeley Jr, and purchased an ivory tusk from him for a thousand dollars in order to accomplish the commissions that I have received.

Yukon News Article Well Done

The Yukon News article came out today, and it looks fantastic. It features a picture of me standing with the mammoth tusk, and a picture of 'Duality'.

My Airport Display Case

I had an idea today for the inside of my rented display case at the Whitehorse International Airport. I’ve noticed that the carvings tend to disappear visually, because the viewer can look through the clear case into the busy airport waiting area behind. I’m going to create a black screen that will cover the back two sides of the Plexiglas case in order to highlight the sculpture within.

First Feature Interview

As a result of the press release that Terry Prince sent to the Yukon News regarding the Millennium Tusk Project that I am planning, I was interviewed today by Erling Fris Bastaad, a writer from the Yukon News. I enjoyed speaking with Erling and look forward to reading the article when it is run in the paper.

Soapstone 'Surprised'

I finished the soapstone grizzly bear sculpture today, a total of 76 hours. The final name will be 'Surprised.' Though the result is beautiful, I do not like working in the medium, which I find excessively dusty. Initial work on the sculpture outside in a breeze covered the neighbour's yard in a fine snow white dusting of soapstone. When I moved indoors, taking over a small unused greenhouse, the dust became so thick that it was difficult at times to see the sculpture beneath my grinder. I think I'll stick to antler, horn and ivory!

Northern Encounters '99 Invite

I received a call today from Bob Kussy, a sculptor from the Northwest Territories whom I met this summer at the Great Northern Arts Festival. He says that there is a new arts festival being planned for Toronto in July of 1999. It will be a circumpolar arts festival, called Northern Encounters '99. It is to be organized by a company called Sound Streams. The contact is Lawrence Cherney. I contacted Lawrence, as per Bob’s instructions, and he said the festival is a bi-annual event. It includes visual art, dance, theatre and music from across the circumpolar north. The emphasis is on northern, native and Inuit art. I have been invited to attend.

New Veritas Carver's Bench

Checked out the Lee Valley Catalogue today. They have come up with a brand new ‘carver’s bench,’ called the Veritas Carver’s Bench, and it has its very own hold-down clamps. The bench looks perfect for my uses, and I will consider purchasing one over the next month.

Celtic Confusion Cover

Today I signed the Letter of Agreement with Lee Valley Tools for the photography and use of 'Celtic Confusion' on the cover of their January catalogue.

Organization and Marketing with Terry Prince

Had my first meeting today with Terry Prince from Elk Grove, California. Terry is a professional organizer who has agreed to help with my marketing efforts.

Inuvik Arts Festival, 1998

Things have been going well so far at the Inuvik Arts Festival. One of the sales people said that there has been a serious inquiry by a person who buys each year for someone else who can’t make it. The person in question saw the piece on the internet and asked for it specifically. Wow, it seems like the advertising and web stuff works!

It has been good to get away from Faro. I have met so many interesting people here:

A photographer from Vancouver, Peter Timmermans, is up doing a shoot on the Dempster for Canada Post and their highway series of stamps. We had some wonderful chats, and he carved a few things with my tools. (The festival asks artists to share their skills with other artists and the general public in attendance.)

A painter from Ireland, Cathy Henderson, over to sketch the Festival and its artists, did a watercolour of me at work on 'Candle Ice'.

A retired art teacher from New York, who I chatted with at length on the boat trip from Inuvik to the Arctic Ocean; both he and Peter Timmermans suggested “going where the money is,” with the carvings if they don’t sell here.

I have especially enjoyed working with other carvers, including Maureen Morris and Bob Kussy, with whom I shared a carving tent.

The organizers and volunteers and all the rest have been super, not to mention the people attending the Festival. What a blast, just talking with people as they tour the Festival. It has certainly been worth it.

Arrival at Inuvik Arts Festival

I had a really nice shower after setting up the camp, and feel great, lying here in Inuvik with a gentle breeze blowing through the tent. The Arts Festival looks good, the organizers look harassed. It should be a really good time. I have a bit more on Celtic Confusion to do, but it could be set up in the display area if necessary.

Desolate Despite Purchase

Today I feel desolate. The NSK arrived, and good timing it was indeed. I am ready for it now, but lack any zeal. The demons I must face are my own. No matter who I am, where I go, or who I am with, this will be the case.

Tool Upgrade

I am considering buying a new grinding tool called the Electer GX made by NSK. It is an ultra-precision micromotor grinder. It is quite expensive, working out to about $1246.55, but it promises to be a much better tool for detail work in my carving.

Next Steps on the Lee Valley Cover

I heard today again from Ray Pilon, from Lee Valley Tools. He has received the go-ahead on the catalogue cover. We discussed shipping two sculptures to his studio in Ottawa, so that he can take the photographs for the January-March 1999 cover.