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#48 Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

John Donne’s deathless words inspired this sculpture carved from a neighbor’s hollow Maple tree. Two years in the carving, a one-piece Walnut bell hangs within the hollow maple cross-section, mounted on an Ash base. Separately carved Black Walnut pedestal not pictured.

Signed and dated PR Drumm 2001
Ash, Walnut, Maple, Black Walnut
31.5” x 24” x 14”

First Prize, WM. Rush Woodcarvers, 11/01
Second Prize, North Jersey woodcarvers, 10/01

Juried Art Shows:
National Arts Club, Allied Artists of America, 11/02
Gaelen Gallery JCC MetroWest, 5/02
Ringwood Manor Arts, 8/01

Another whimsical sculpture inspired by success of  'Anguished Tears' and an experienced 'reading' of what juried art shows want. The debate over realism/representational vs abstract is intense. In this case, a solution was to go ahead and whimsically incorporate a neighbor's hollow tree I helped cut, hang a bell in the ring (forget trying to make wood ring like a bronze bell) , provide good bases, and have it illustrate John Donne's deathless words. Voila, a classical sculpture accepted by juried art shows in The National Arts Club and Salmagundi Club of New York City, the epitome of artists worldwide.
My brother Jim and I helped a neighbor with their hollow maple tree, which had to be cut down. I wound up with 2 cross-sections 32" diameter x 5" deep. After mulling over possible designs, a lengthy process as usual, I set the cross-section vertically on an Ash base with bark intact. I then gouged out the back of the cross-section, hollowing it to eliminate checking as the wood shrinks. Solid logs check (crack) when the outside shrinks toward a solid interior that has nowhere to go. Next, I gouged the exterior with a pleasing texture of tool marks. A couple of coats of 24-hour epoxy sealed the 32" ring and barked base, making the sculpture impervious to humidity, especially when it is waxed at least yearly.
Next, a white walnut log was selected that had an interesting crooked branch jutting from it which could be made into a bell-pull. This kind of walnut tree has wonderfully delicious walnuts. It is not often used for sculptures because it is a hell of a lot harder to carve than black walnut, and it darkens with age. Hollowing out the interior, yet retaining a central column of wood for a chained bell, was easier thought than done. Chip by stubborn chip, it was done, over the next year. Carving the interior chain links and bell took my big hands another few months in Jim's workshop (the sculpture was too big to be taken to my usual workplace, the local Burger King, Rt 46, Clifton). Now I could enjoy the comparatively easier carving of the crooked branch into a chained bellpull, itself a bell with chained bell tongue inside. Gouge-texturing the bell and sealing the darkening wood with 24-hr epoxy made it ready for the next step (almost 2 years after beginning this interesting project, commuting 1/2 hr daily to brother Jim's basement workshop). 
The bell was hung by carved chain links inset into the bottom of the top rim. The sculpture still was not finished, too squat to be set at eye level unless a  suitable pedestal was designed, one that felt right for it. The usual black or clear lucite pedestals provided by art galleries is absolutely unsuitable for this sculpture. A black walnut log about 34" high did the job, after hollowing, texturing, sealing, and capping both ends with 3" thick x 15" diameter log cross-sections. Bolting the sculpture and pedestal together and attaching furniture feet to the bottom finished the project after two years. I carried it proudly to several shows, and it now graces my private museum of whittled whimseys, where I can look at it as I plan my next sculpture.
ADVERTISING IS WELCOMED ON THIS AND ANY OTHER PAGE. Contact prdrumm@gmail.com or Teri Hislop (201) 725-4428     


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