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Desert Rose

A sculptural remembrance upon awakening at dawn on a cross-country bicycle trip, to see a gnarled rose blooming, impossibly, in the Mohave Desert.

Signed and dated PR Drumm 1996
Black Walnut, Oak, Poplar, Maple  24” x 23” x 5”

First Prize, South Jersey Woodcarvers, 10/96
Second  Prize, North Jersey Woodcarvers, 9/97
Third Prize, Wm. Rush Woodcarvers, 10/96
Honorable Mention, Delaware Valley Woodcarvers (Abington, PA), 4/97

Juried Art Shows:
Salmagundi Club, American Artists Professional League, 11/97
Kent Connecticut Art Association, 5/96
National Arts Club, American Artists Registry, 9/98
Ringwood Manor Arts, 8/98
Ridgewood Arts, 1/00
NCJW Focus on Art, Van Vleck, 10/01


My grandson Joe Pipia as a little boy was walking with me near the stream that runs through my nephew Pat's homestead, when he kicked up a blackened tree root. He held it up to me, saying he thought it'd make a great sculpture. I agreed and months later incorporated it as the base of a large rose. The root was interesting, ideally heavy for a base, especially since the Black Walnut tree root grew around rocks within it. A  2-foot stem I carved fit beautifully, curving up from the dark base into the rose which is composed of several petals and their drooping petal covers. It was a nice use of Joe's thoughtful discovery, recycling a tree root into a work of art.
As shown above, it has been very well received by juried art shows, treading the fine line betwen whimsical remembrance and classical sculpture, delighting this whittler who used a single pocket knife and scraps of wood to create it. To me, it does evoke the memory of a gnarled rose blooming impossibly in the Mohave Desert. I was camping out, hammock slung between Saguaro Cactii, each nite hundreds of miles between campsites, alone on a bicycle trip from San Diego to NYC (3 weeks). To see this rose blooming in the early morning sunshine in the supposedly desolate desert, was, to me, a triumph of life over impossible circumstances.       
By the time I knew what I wanted to carve, the Black Walnut root had become hard and dry, ready to become a dark, earthlike base for the gnarled stem, which was inserted into a perfectly carved recess with my trusty pocketknife. Thorns were inserted (what is a rose without thorns but a defenseless beauty?). A Poplar table leg provided the scoop-cut drooping petal covers, then one large petal after another was scooped out and clicked into place. Gluing is done only when the blosssom is fully assembled. Each petal is unclicked, and the whole blossom reassembled with a edge of glue on each petal clicked back into place. Tung Oil varnish is soaked on, and rubbed down, 2 or 3 coats, not enough to make it too shiny when dry. The 2-foot stem seemed too bare, so I added a darkwood knot that looked like leaves, and a rosebud on its own slender stem. Carving the rosebud petal by petal is another story. After a couple of months, waxing the whole sculpture preserves it. Yearly waxing creates a soft glow and ensures resistance to humidity and woodworm (most antique carvings in museums are wormholed, just look at them!).
Creating a rose sculpture with the eager help of my little grandson, now a mature man, and sharing it via juried art exhibits and WorldWideWeb virtual museum - what could be better?


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