Monthly Archives: October 2011

What next

Me, thinking “what to make next?”


Thoughts to matter

In writing about Australian aboriginal symbolic design, Tjurunga, or as it sometimes spelled, Churinga, and in reference also to native American graphic designs:

“It cannot be doubted that these designs and paintings also have an aesthetic character; here is the first form of art. Since they are also, and even above all, a written language, it follows that the origins of design and those of writing are one. It even becomes clear that men commenced designing not so much to fix upon wood or stone beautiful forms which charm the senses, as to translate his thoughts into matter. (c.f. Schoolcraft Indian Tribes 1 p405,  Dorsey Siouan Cults pp.394 ff)” 

Durkheim, Emile The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life The Free Press Macmillan Co NY 1965 p. 149

As Tjurunga are culturally sensitive material, I will not show an example here. If you would like to see some, you can do so at Simon Pockley’s website Flight of Ducks . Try the results for 2011 and 2010.

From Siouan Cults :



The finish is the finish – I paint on 5 wet coats all over with a foam brush, keeping it wet the whole time, the wood just soaking it up, until I began to see it slightly puddle- up on the sides. The end grain can soak up everything. Then I wipe down the wood with a cloth before it gets sticky, so it doesn’t dry shiny and wet looking. This warmed up the color and took away the dry look of the raw wood. I let it dry for a week, looking at it, thinking.

I used some ultra-secret 3000 grit sandpaper that comes on a thin foam backing, kind of like a mega-fine 3M pad (thanks Garry), to buff down the fine hairs and grain raised by the application of the first coat, especially around the equator of the piece where the grain is flat and difficult to chisel as sharply and cleanly as on the end grain at the top and bottom. The trick is not to dull the sharp edges of the chisel marks which are so nice, and this special sanding pad can do it much better that I could do on the practice piece with regular 2000 grit paper. This gave those areas a much “harder” surface, without the vaguely distracting fuzz of the loose hairs, which as hard as they are to see, still create a lack of visual sharpness.


I applied a second coat, this one thinned about 10% with mineral spirits and wiped on lightly with a cotton cloth – an old t shirt. This is all mostly automatic since of course I’d done some testing before. It is worth all that rehearsal so as not to be a nervous wreck when doing the real work. I like adventure, but I suppose I like most adventure which leads to success.