'By Son and Star' (Finished) by Shane Wilson

For larger images, please see the ‘By Son and Star’ page in the Ivory Gallery.

'By Son and Star - Imperial Vancouver' by Shane Wilson (carved sperm whale tooth)
On this side, the Imperial Vancouver steams south on the return journey from Prince Rupert, with B.C.’s fabulous coastline in the background. The rising sun (shaped abstractly like the ship’s wheel the ‘son’ learned to handle on the voyage) symbolizes the father’s experience of the son during the week aboard ship, proud of the man the son was becoming, his adult future fresh on the horizon.

'By Son and Star - Mariner's Rest' by Shane Wilson (carved sperm whale tooth)
Mariner’s Rest, formerly referred to as Steamboat Rock, situated in Thornborough Channel off the west coast of Gambier Island in Howe Sound is represented on this side of the sperm whale tooth. Mariner’s Rest is a newly sacred site, dedicated to the remembrance of mariners who have died. Captain Thompson’s ashes were scattered in the waters off this island cairn.

This depiction of
Mariner’s Rest is imagined in early evening, after the setting of the sun. A single star twinkles in the heavens, reflected in the channel waters, a reminder of Captain Thompson’s life and legacy.

Three points of Gambier Island comprise the middle ground; Gambier Harbour and Keats Island, the distant background on the far right.


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'By Son and Star' (Mariner's Rest) by Shane Wilson

Mariner’s Rest, formerly referred to as Steamboat Rock, situated in Thornborough Channel off the west coast of Gambier Island in Howe Sound is represented on this side of the sperm whale tooth. Mariner’s Rest is a newly sacred site, dedicated to the remembrance of mariners who have died. Captain Thompson’s ashes were scattered in the waters off this island cairn.

This depiction of
Mariner’s Rest is imagined in early evening, after the setting of the sun. A single star twinkles in the heavens, reflected in the channel waters, a reminder of Captain Thompson’s life and legacy.

Three points of Gambier Island comprise the middle ground; Gambier Harbour and Keats Island, the distant background on the far right.


'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - phj) by Shane Wilson
Mariner’s Rest: carving finalized before sanding and polishing.

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'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - phh) by Shane Wilson
How to represent this scene in such a way that it stands out and sings? The challenge was to avoid Mariner’s Rest appearing like a blob, while the mid-ground flattened and disappeared with the overhead fall of light.

One solution, suggested by Bradford Blakely, a netsuke carver and restorer, was to make use of the ancient Japanese technique of dying the composition with a solution of boiled Yashadama cones (a hardy mountain alder that grows over 5000 ft on the mountains of Japan). After buffing, the cracks and crevices retain the dye, providing a coloured shadow and hence, the illusion of depth. Bradford kindly sent a bag of the cones to me at this own expense, for which I offer him thanks!

However, after careful consideration, I decided to forego colour and, instead, emphasize the cracks on Mariner’s Rest, create an abstract sculptural effect with the trees, and trust the ivory’s naturally coloured depth distinctions to differentiate foreground from background.

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'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - phg) by Shane Wilson
Mariner’s Rest has been reduced and centred, the three points in the mid-ground and the star have been roughed in, while the distant background is sketched in more accurately. I decided to render the border between land and water with undercuts of varying depths to create the dark reflection effect. Because the distant background is beyond the waterline horizon, I will carve them in shallow relief behind the over-cut waterline.

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'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - phc) by Shane Wilson
The mid-ground and background are sketched in. It was very difficult to see in the image what was ‘happening’ in the mid and background, so I resorted to Google Earth for a better look at the topography and discovered there were actually three points of land forming the mid-ground and that the far background comprised the southerly portion of Gambier Island overlapping the heights of Keats Island in the distance.

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'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - phb) by Shane Wilson
Initially, I had hoped to make the feature of Mariner’s Rest larger, more prominently part of the foreground, but the curvature of the tooth made this seem awkward. It resulted in the portion of the island closest to the edge appeared to fall off the tooth while suspended over the water, which appeared to fall away underneath. The decision was made to reduce the island and centre it within the visual field of the tooth.

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'By Son and Star' (Mariners Rest Island - pha) by Shane Wilson
Photoshop was used to overlay the sperm whale tooth with the image of Mariner’s Rest, as found on the Mission to Seafarers website. (Where more information about this memorial site can be found.)


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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver) by Shane Wilson

In order to realize the two-fold goal for this carving, remembering both trip and resting place, I decided to create two designs, one for each side of the tooth. This will also provide for some variety in the final display of the sculpture, allowing for alternate viewing of either ship or island, displayed on a fireplace mantle. The designs reflect the person of Captain Bud Thompson both in his working life aboard the Imperial Vancouver and his final resting place as a naval officer on Mariner’s Rest.

On this side, the
Imperial Vancouver steams south on the return journey from Prince Rupert, with B.C.’s fabulous coastline in the background. The rising sun (shaped abstractly like the ship’s wheel the ‘son’ learned to handle on the voyage) symbolizes the father’s experience of the son during the week aboard ship, proud of the man the son was becoming, his adult future fresh on the horizon.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phj) by Shane Wilson
Details are added to the ship. I added the supporting lines as cuts in the background. From a modest distance away from the sculpture, they appear to be suspended from the masts over the ship. The steam from the boilers is added to the background in shallow relief, giving the effect that the background, though visible is also distorted by the steam. The stylized wheel-like sun is finalized with outline cuts to accentuate it and differentiate it from the mountains in the background, giving it presence and vitality.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phi) by Shane Wilson
Refinements to ship and background. Note the two booms off the forward mast have been removed. They were interfering with the play of light across the water, creating shadows which destroyed the illusion of distance between ship and shore.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phh) by Shane Wilson
The horizon line is laid in as an undercut. This is counter intuitive, since the land should physically lie beyond the water, however, the shadow cast by the undercut reads as the dark band of the land’s reflection on the water, visible from a distance. The mountains are sketched in.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phg) by Shane Wilson
The ship emerges in rough. Note the creamy colour of the inner portion of the tooth. This will help the ship, still ivory coloured, to ‘pop’ visually.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phf) by Shane Wilson
Time to go a little deeper. The hull begins to take shape.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phe) by Shane Wilson
Further shaping. I have decided to remove the ship’s supporting lines, since it was not possible to reduce them to a suitably thin diameter, they were causing visual confusion with thicker elements, like the masts.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phd) by Shane Wilson
As the background is cut away carefully, the ship begins to emerge in relief.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phc) by Shane Wilson
The carving begins. A small round high speed steel dental burr is used to outline the ship.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - phb) by Shane Wilson
Given the small scale of this carving and the complexity of the ship, not to mention the fragility of the ivory if carved finely, much thought had to go into the realization of the Imperial Vancouver in relief. How much detail to include, remove, alter? These were questions not readily answerable when I embarked on this carving journey. But a line drawing of the ship seemed a good place to start. It has been glued to the highly contoured surface.

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'By Son and Star' (Imperial Vancouver - pha) by Shane Wilson
The initial, rough, photoshop ‘sketch’, imposing the Imperial Vancouver over distant mountains and the rising sun. Many, many images of the ship were tried and rejected, unsuited to the unusual shape and contour of the tooth. Viewed from a distance, the curved surface appears to flatten and appear right, when the design is contained within the centre of the visual plane. Design elements on the outer edges of the tooth appear grossly distorted and spoil the scenic effect.


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'Ahead of the Curves' (Phase 12 - Right Antler, front) by Shane Wilson

More refining, front and back.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right Lower - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right Centre - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 12 - back) by Shane Wilson


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'Ahead of the Curves' (Phase 11 - Right Antler, coronet) by Shane Wilson

The coronet has been redesigned to reflect the curvaceous, post contemporary design of the antler.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson


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