Summer Solstice last month, along with a new moon, and I suddenly found everything changed for me. I spent four days woodcarving while M had the time back in school. It was the hottest week of the year, so I could only work until the time the sun moved round…
This sycamore stump is from a tree that split three ways and managed to be a lot bigger than anything else, although the individual trunks weren’t. It seemed right to honour it in some way, especially as it is next to where I created a spiral.
My original idea, formed over a few months, was to carve it into a dragon holding a five pointed star. Our woodland has been informally named Dragon Star Wood – this name seems to have stuck, we might make it formal at some point, but it seemed right to honour that in our guardian stump here.
However, while I tried very hard to carry out my original idea, there were many reasons why my drawings are not the finished result. A quick list of the main ones… Because all the schools were closed I was unable to begin carving as anticipated. I have never done a large carving before, most of my chisels are small, and not really up to the job in the time available. Hot weather made the stump dry out rapidly, making greenwood saw blades struggle, and I didn’t have another saw with me. Drying out was also a problem for carving, as the speed of wood removal was painfully slow in the hard areas. We do not yet have a greenwood rip saw, also required. I did not have the confidence in my axe abilities at the start of the carving for the faster removal of wood. The buzzards have been using it as a perch, and I did not wish to either stop them or have them damage the top of any delicate features, like a dragon’s head…Despite these difficulties, I carried on with the original plan, knowing it was impossible in the time available but still acting as if it might be, just in case some miracle happened. (And got pretty good with an axe, enjoying the practice!) Half way through my third day, having given it absolutely my best shot and tried everything I could think of, I decided to call it a day on the original design, and instead of carving a dragon, carve some dragon energy lines spiralling around the stump. What followed was a fairly organic design, carved mostly freehand, listening to the dragons, the woodland, and my inner self. I liked the rounded shapes the stump had become, and simply worked with them.
There are three lines, two in one directions and one the opposite. Each emerges from a star, one has leaves along it, one thorns, and the reverse one a mix of flowers and a spiral. I wasn’t sure at first about the thorns, but I realised they represented fire and provided balance.
Once completed, I extended the spiral next to the stump for its final circle, to start between this and a much smaller stump I hope to carve another week. (Not shown, it is further left than in the photo below.) The spiral on the stump is the reverse to the one on the ground, echoing each other and forming a pair together.
What amuses me most is how whimsical it has ended up – and how completely different to anything I would have done a few years ago. It shows me how much I have changed. It won’t last forever, it is only sycamore and has signs of rot in the top already. But the stump has been honoured, and next time I will know more.