Entrepreneurial spirit, too little too late & spilled beer

I just returned from the village store. I took a few cold beers from their fridge, the coldest beers around. I like that. It’s summer. Three beers. Having a store in the village rocks. It is convenient for me, only a … Continue reading

The Wood is the Journey

Wood. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. I’m looking at some right now. My feet are firmly planted on some too. I like it. I’ve always liked wood. That’s an ingrained thing. Wood makes me feel good.

I’ve always done things with wood, carving walking sticks or carving other things. But many years ago I put the more serious carving aside. You just know.

Perhaps you dear reader have experienced something similar with your toolbox of human talents and creative skills. You sense it and you can’t really ignore when something within you refuses to be abandoned, when the pilot light of creativity remains alight. Time goes by but the thoughts, ideas and dreams keep coming. And so it was. And so it is. And so I returned to the tools, the feel and the wood.

A dear friend was instrumental in this return and I am thankful for that. I simply joined the wood sculpting course he was in an the rest took and is taking care if itself. The feeling of relief a sure sign that I was doing the right thing. That I was doing what I should be doing. That it was good to touch the wood and to reconnect with the familiar. I began with a warmup piece, creating in a larger scale the same spiral lines I usually use on walking sticks, this time on a birch log. I still need to finish that one, it is roughed out and ready for finishing work it was a warmup piece and remains a work in progress.

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When the wood feeling firmed up, I bought tools and will buy more tools

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A second piece began to take shape and is leading me along an unfamiliar path which is intriguing and a bit frustrating at the same time because it is drawing me out of my comfort zone.

And then I found olive, or it found me. Actually a largish chunk of olive trunk wood. Wow. What a find. The possibilities …

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top view with wet core

The piece was wet wood, freshly cut when I put it in storage for observation and to let it dry out. Over the next few weeks I peeled off the rough bark, giddy with impatience to expose the fantasy shapes, twists, hollows and bulges that are this piece of wood. Ok, so olive wood is fairly rare in these southern parts of Germany. Finding a piece like that not an everyday occurrence and no, I didn’t find it digitally although a few of my carving colleagues in the course found and bought olive wood pieces online. I am fully aware of the coolness of this score. The trunk is approx. 45cm in diameter and 65cm tall and I guess that the tree must have been close to 60 years old when it succumbed to the worms that were working their way through the centre core.

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peeled with mirror

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rough start

It is one thing to begin a piece. It is another to finish it. And yet another to turn a project into firewood. THAT is not an option and so I bridled my excitement and only then laid tool to the wood when the moment felt right. But once I began the project grabbed my by the neck with such intensity and urgency that the first 60 hours few by.

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roughed out

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smoother

chiseled and riffled

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roughing out

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roughing out

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opening at bottom

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impression

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exposed and finishing

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hollow

So far I’ve whacked away at the piece with carving tools letting the mouthwatering olive smelling chips fly. I’ve spent days in an intensely focused meditative state with long thin riflers in nearly cramped gloved hands creating shapes, rasping lines and following as best I can the dictating flow of the myriad emerging flowing grains and contrasting dark/light patterns that make this wood so unique. And to satisfy my most irritating perfectionist urges, countless pieces of paper parted from sand in varying grades, shimmied to and fro, back and forth, across and with the grain to render by hand a nearly baby bottom smooth finish.

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riffling

 

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shapes

 

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lines & grain

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interior view

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smoothed surface

At this stage of the project I can see at least 60 hours into the future and perhaps beyond but there is not real rush and I have no deadline other than to create something interesting, something that takes the eye on a visual journey … into the olive wood and I have the finished piece also firmly in mind, yet open to changes as fluid as its grain. The openings into the core of the piece drawing the eye inward, the colorful grain triggering day dreams. All that said, a photo of the finished piece will be added as an update.  Das Holz ist der Weg

Playing the Tourist Card

Heidelberg a very old and romantic city, also very easy on the eyes; the old part that is. That was one of the reasons running through my head when I formed the idea to visit there with my daughter who was visiting Europe/Germany for the very first time.It’s a city in Germany. You may have heard of it. It’s kind of popular with the tourist crowd. It’s also renowned amongst the academically minded for it’s institutions of higher learning. Heidelberg is Germanys  oldest university town.

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rail lines

Driving there from here was not an option as although there is a rapid route of travel known as the Autobahn here in Germany, it is also plagued with congestion issues that do not make for rapid travel as one would reasonably expect. Instead we opted for the logical alternative, the train. Even that option offers various modes from the normal commuter train to the high speed ICE experience. In this Bundesland/state/province of Baden Württemberg rail tourism is encouraged with discounted tickets offered at attractive prices (on the normal trains). For those with deeper pockets and less time the highspeed rail transit costs considerably more. We did the math and picked the rediculously low cost return ticket for two persons at 26 Euros as compared to the nearly 200 Euros for the high speed option.

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train waiting

The drawback to cheap travel are certain restrictions such as not being able to ride until 09:00 (a civilized time to begin anything), however when one considers the nearly four hour travel time to get to Heidelberg and adding in the equally long return trip and realizing the remaining available time between arrival and departure if one doesn’t want to get home too late, things begin to feel compressed.

Add to that that I forgot to take a look at Google Earth to see how the city was laid out. Erroneously I had assumed that Heidelberg might be similar to Freiburg (im Breisgau) ala step off the train, walk out of the train station and straight into the interesting bit of the city. I was wrong in that assumption, ill prepared and as blind as a wide eyed tourist set adrift in a strange new place.

In short time we realized the error of our pedestrian ways and jumped onto the next available bus in hopes of getting to the good parts of town quicker. With success. And only a vague feeling of confusion. But we had to make a choice, would we try to get to see the Schloss (romantic castle) or check out the ‘Alt Stadt’ (old city). Time was like mercury, running out if we were to keep our return schedule. Not a fun situation to be in when there is lots of cool things to see and I tried as best as I could to banish the thought that this little sightseeing jaunt was going to turn out to be a long train ride with a stop-over in Heidelberg.

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Heidelberg castle above the academy sciences

As fortune would have it the rail line up the the castle was broken (technical issues we were told). That decided things for us and we relaxed and took it easy as we strolled the narrow streets of the old town on our way to the picturesque bridge spanning the Neckar river. From there we got a lovely touristy view of the castle up on the hill and mingled with the new invading hordes/tourists from nearly every corner of the globe.

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tourist in orange

Honestly, I don’t much care for being a ‘tourist’ but no matter how I look at it, even though I live in Germany, I am a tourist when it comes to seeing new places. It can’t be helped I’m afraid.

We spent our time enjoying ourselves and after viewing the typical sights without wasting the little time we had, we stopped into an quaint old Brauhaus for something to eat and some local beer. As the tables along the front outside in the laneway were all occupied we sat inside with a view to the outside. The unexpected surprise of this lunch stop was a beer with the insane alcohol content of 33% touted as the strongest beer in the world.  A rather sweetish treat on a warm day.

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Vetter 33 beer

The rest of our remaining time was spent walking back to were we left the first bus that dropped us off at Universitaets Platz (not my own video; voice is not myself).

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retro tour guide Heidelberg style

Just  thinking about our return rail trip makes me tired and suffice it to say that you should take more than three hours to visit this charming city to really absorb some of the atmosphere and sense of it all. We rather enjoyed it and would gladly come back.

But we would want to do it without the three train there and three train back bit. To say that we were tired when we got home that night would be an understatement.

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tired feet

Question

What was your best day? Mine happened on a Thursday.

Thanks Kindly

… for reading and following, much appreciated. Have a wonderful moment.

 

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Ornamental Hood Skull