This time tomorrow (1 May) we’ll have entered the International Travel Tunnel, and the next morning we’ll pop out at Rhodes, Greece (1 & 2). Then we spend some time on Symi, (3 & 4) and then Patmos (5 & 6). We’ll make a side-trip to Kalymnos.
I have final proofs of my book The Craft – selected poems 1989 – 2016!! And a mockup of the cover! It will be published some time in the next three months, by Douglas Skinner’s Left Field Press. I am excited. I haven’t published a book of poems since Ghaap – Sonnets from the Northern Cape in 2005.
Here’s a mock-up of the cover. The image is a detail of a porcelain tile by my friend Christina Bryer, from her series entitled ‘Swatches’.
And here is an excerpt. The head is, of course, that of Orpheus.
The head sings
The Head: ‘On the left of the House of Hell,
Next to a white cypress, is a well
Fed by a spring. Don’t go near.
There’s another spring in the dell
By Lake Memory, cold water wells
From it. This water is defended
By the unsleeping guards of death.
When you see them, you must call
To them, saying,’
Chorus: ‘I am a star that fell.’
The Head: ‘Tell them,’
Chorus: ‘I am a child of Earth
And Starry Heaven,’
The Head: ‘as in the spell,’
Chorus: ‘But Heaven is the realm of my birth–
You yourselves know this is the truth.
My throat is dusty and my tongue swells
With thirst. Quick, give me the clear
Cold water of memory, let me bathe
In it and drink it, let it heal me whole
And mend me where I am wounded.’
There are cheap sapphires and spinels of poor quality available out of India. They are murky and have no doubt been heated or whatever they do to enhance the colour. It is precisely the bright colour and the hardness of the stones that makes them good for a ring – providing a dab of pigment on the hand.
I bought some and made these rings, which can be worn together or singly.
In my last post I put up pictures of some sculptural pendants in the form of buildings, that I had carved in wax. Harald cast them yesterday and they came out perfect. I have finished them, leaving a host of imperfections. I am very pleased with them.
Here they are. I photographed them in golden morning light, which gave the silver the wrong colour – so I have rendered them in B&W. There’s a lot of detail. Click to enlarge.
I had this idea of making some pendants which showed the fronts of imagined buildings. I opted for wax. It would give me the imperfect, hand made textures that I want.
I have carved these waxes and sprued them up. (Sprues are the channels through which the metal will flow when it’s cast.)
These are cell-phone snaps of the things I made. If you click on them, you will see more detail. Each has tiny figures. The pendants are all on the same scale. The smaller ones are about 20mm x 50mm.
Now comes the moment of anxiety when I hand them over to Harald for casting. Will all the parts fill? Will there be porosities, or other problems? Harald is usually pretty good, but shit happens. We’ll do it after Easter and I’ll post pics.
I’m not much given to illustrating poems, but this acrylic painting on paper does somewhat illustrate a poem of mine – the first in my forthcoming book with Left Field Poetry, The Craft: Selected Poems 1989 – 2016. The image won’t be in or on the book, but here it is.
Relaxed in the flow of things, we float
Down the wide river in a small boat.
There is nothing to do but to pluck
With leisured fingers on the lute,
Let the song rise in the throat
And spill over the water, or not.
The boat drifts slowly. On either side
The landscape passes like a long scroll
Full of intricate detail. Each tributary’s slide
Into the main stream makes the wide
River wider. How gradually we glide
Seawards, how vivid the afternoon sky.
The different water-birds around us
Vanish and return to the surface,
Drops sparkling. They are full of business
But we are caught up with luxurious
Late day warmth, the lute idly plucked,
The possibility of a kiss
Far over the river sounds can be heard:
A bull bellowing from his pen,
The high chaa chaa of a gliding water-bird
And the hint of the water’s gurgle
Against distant banks. The returning herd
Answers the bull. The boat drifts on.
Six plums tied in a cloth, some bread,
Are all our simple provisions,
Along with half a bottle of cheap red.
All day we have followed the delicate thread
Of the lute. We glide and sing. Ahead
The huge moon rising, almost red.
All day we drifted downriver in our flimsy boat,
The dark cargo ships slid by like dreams.
Now we are beyond the delta. We float
On calm water, deep blue and remote.
There is no land beyond the wet
Horizon. The stars are coming out.
I got this gorgeous amethyst and wanted to set it into a ring. The trouble was the size and depth of the stone. I decided to carve a pair of hands gripping the girdle of the stone in their fingertips. This would allow the deep basket shape that I needed. The stone is so deep that it only just misses the finger.
First I carved a blank from some green carving wax – basically a piece of wax with a hole for the finger and a space to hold the stone.
Onto that I imagined, and drew, with a lot of checking my own crossed hands, the hands that would hold the stone, then removed whatever was not fingers. Here are some stages of the process.
After a bit of sharpening up, the wax was sent to Harald for casting.Then came filing, polishing and engraving.
Here are some pics of the final item. Click on them to enlarge.