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#38 Anguished Tears

Born of the pain and anguish of losing his son.  Each form is a teardrop.  Teardrops lie within teardrops….

Signed and dated PR Drumm, 1998
Black Walnut
27” x 8” diameter

Exhibited:
First Prize, Delaware Valley (Abington, PA), 4/99
First Prize, North Jersey Woodcarvers, 10/99
CAA Ridgewood Arts, 10/99

Juried Art Show:
National Arts Club, Allied Artists of America, 11/00

 

 

Years after the suicide by gas of eldest son Eddie Guy Drumm (17), it was gently suggested by my pastor Charles Bluestein Ortman that it might help the anguish if I wrote about it. I could not write then, but did pick up a Black Walnut log and carve. Months later a teardrop appeared in the carving, suspended within one teardrop shape after another. The sculpture was exhibited in juried art shows in NYC's National Arts Club and Salmagundi Club, winning prize after prize. The anguish remains. Tears remain. The anguish redoubled when second son Kevin Russell Drumm OD'd on Heroin, leaving four beautiful children fatherless. The sculpture 'Anguished Tears' will not be sold in my lifetime.
 
My sculptures are carved slowly and thoughtfully by pocketknife on aged hardwood and each tells a story, told on the following pages of website 'whittled whimseys'. Most are attempts at whimsical humor, although 'Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls' descends again into anguished sadness. 'Bell' too will not be sold while I live. I have lived 75 years (1932-2007) and expect to live many more productive years in company with my three older brothers (1922, 1925, 1927).
 
When 'Anguished Tears' began, it was a formless notion stirred by selecting a Black Walnut log saved from burning in my nephew Patrick's fireplace (Black Walnut trees grow on his Hunterdon county home). As usual, it languished several months while I carved other projects and put off this one for some reason. Eventually I shaved off the bark, which I don't usually do, and began tentative cuts. I use gloves now, but back then I wore my bare forefinger and thumb sore and bloody. On seasoned Black Walnut and harder woods like Ash and Hickory, the force required to make scoop cuts, is enormous. By 'scoop cuts' I mean I never slash forward of backward. Slashing is hell on fingertips and wrists, with inevitable deep skin cuts, bloody and damaging. Scoop cuts control the forceful dig into wood and slice and twist just far enough that a second reverse scoop cut removes the loosened chip and leaves a clean scoop. The first scoop is done with forefinger driving the blade backwards into the wood, thumb assisting. The reverse scoop is done with both thumbs driving the blade forwards into the wood to scoop out the chip. Clean scoops are satisfying.
 
I rarely draw on the wood, instead scooping and establishing directly the 3-dimensional referent shapes into a 'blank'. When the blank defines the overall shape in satisfying proportions, then the detail planning and execution begins. A craftsman likes to use plans that are followed in detail, impossible in 1st-time prototype creation since details are 'made up' as the blank is scooped into. In this case, my scoops created a blank that allowed me to further scoop out a triple-arch across the diameter of the log, leaving a center support for what I now planned. Then I scooped out the bottom arches, symmetrical with the upper triple arch.
 
 I could see there would be three vertical chains down to the bottom triple arch, and that a mid-back cross-piece, disguised as a horizontal fixed-link chain, would be needed to spread the vertical chains evenly. Leaving wood intact in the center, I carved the chains as much like teardrops as possible. The chain links when done, had all three to hang at the same length to keep the bottom triple arch symmetrical.
 
The arches and chains 'framed' the centerpiece. I scoop-cut this centerpiece into a large tearshape. Three chain links were carved to hang this centerpiece, now a pendant, freely within the teardrop 'frame'. Holding the pendant centerpiece firmly, I scoopcut and hollowed it, leaving yet another centerpiece big enough to be the final teardrop. I carved out several teardrop shapes from the hollowed-out pendant centerpiece before carving an elongated teardrop pendant, carefully making a slipjoint so the final teardrop would swing freely yet still 1-piece with the entire sculpture. All that remained was to knife off most of the toolmarks, burnish with a wood harder than Black Walnut, and apply three coats of tung oil varnishover three days, burnishing twice more. After three months drying, wax and polish. Repeat wax/polish at least yearly.
 
It was a satisfying project, especially when it was accepted at so many juried shows. More specifics of carving technique are shown and illustrated on the following pages.
 
 
 
ADVERTISING IS WELCOMED ON THIS AND ANY OTHER PAGE. Contact prdrumm@gmail.com  or Teri Hislop (201) 725-4428
 
 

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