The Hickory tree has a story hidden inside the bark.
In this case, the bark was struck by lightning, very likely, and the bark and the rich, rather soft inner skin were sliced downward and peeled back in what looks like a violent way.
I chose this chunk of wood from my beloved woods in New Jersey. Someone had tossed it aside rather than bringing it in for firewood.
I set it up in the driveway next to the side door and tried to figure out what I would do with it. Tear off the outer “wrap” so I would have a sound piece of wood to work with?
No. This is a survivor, I decided. I have no idea what happened to it and when, but here it was already declaring something strong and dark! It deserves to keep its mysterious shroud and speak out from the hard and dry inner wood.
EVERY PIECE OF NATURE HAS A CERTAIN KIND OF HISTORY– A MINUTE BY MINUTE LOG OF ITS DAYS ON EARTH MARKS THE EVENTS AS THEY HAPPENED. THEN IT GROWS ON MAKING MORE HISTORY. WILL IT SHARE ITS SECRETS?
In this case the wood could only suggest, but a vertical check spoke of stress and the wood breathed, I noticed, with the heat and humidity.
Later on the landing of the stairs where she sat, her eyes seemed to open and close and a tear roll down. The changing light coming in the window gave her life.
I still have this rather heavy carving. I showed it at an open studio on Harstine Island once, and I’ve exhibited it in Seattle. Now it sits in my storage, alas. At least it is a temperature controlled unit. At one time I made the mistake of polishing the beeswax on her face. It made her shine! I must think how to dull that down again. She’s not a sophisticate with glossy skin– just a forest woman with a history.
Here is a fun image of this carving, with digital dents added to the outside skin.
She still has secrets.
SGHolland 2018 August