April 2017 News

Week one of Bali Mask Carving and I had finished one mask, that is often referred to as instructor assisted.  Anom would show me the step by doing it on one side and I would try to replicate it on the other side.  The smiling face mask was my second mask.  The bottom right is what Anom was working on that first week.  

This marking tool was one that Anom Inherited from his grandfather.  It is basically a notched square with the three dimensions needed for cutting out blanks for a mask.  Almost all masks that are worn use these proportions with slight variations if you would want an especially long nose or extra on top for some sort of hair.   

This marking tool was one that Anom Inherited from his grandfather.  It is basically a notched square with the three dimensions needed for cutting out blanks for a mask.  Almost all masks that are worn use these proportions with slight variations if you would want an especially long nose or extra on top for some sort of hair.   

A few days after I got there Anom had his friend come over and cut mask blanks from a freshly cut Pule tree that had fallen in a local temple.  The tree had just come down about 2 weeks before I got there.  His friend was incredibly skilled with the chainsaw.  You can see the marking square in his hand.  After cutting the logs into disks of the correct length the two of them figured out how to get the maximum number of blanks from each round.  There ended up with almost no waste and the corner of the pie shaped piece was often saved for ears.  

A few days after I got there Anom had his friend come over and cut mask blanks from a freshly cut Pule tree that had fallen in a local temple.  The tree had just come down about 2 weeks before I got there.  His friend was incredibly skilled with the chainsaw.  You can see the marking square in his hand.  After cutting the logs into disks of the correct length the two of them figured out how to get the maximum number of blanks from each round.  There ended up with almost no waste and the corner of the pie shaped piece was often saved for ears.  

The next morning I arrived to this beautiful stack of mask blanks waiting for carving.  Because of the careful planning there was almost no waste.  

The next morning I arrived to this beautiful stack of mask blanks waiting for carving.  Because of the careful planning there was almost no waste.  

I was introduced to a couple of brand new tools.  In the past carving at the weekend workshops Anom has brought us roughed out blanks.  Now I got to use the layout tool, a large Balinese hatchet and an ax to try to get the piece of wood to that same roughed out state.  So I spent about 8+ hours learning, or trying to learn to use these new tools.  It was very humbling to say the least.  It has also renewed my empathy level for new woodcarvers as well. 

I was introduced to a couple of brand new tools.  In the past carving at the weekend workshops Anom has brought us roughed out blanks.  Now I got to use the layout tool, a large Balinese hatchet and an ax to try to get the piece of wood to that same roughed out state.  So I spent about 8+ hours learning, or trying to learn to use these new tools.  It was very humbling to say the least.  It has also renewed my empathy level for new woodcarvers as well. 

After roughing out a blank with some Pule wood that was drier, I got to try the fresh cut wood.  Maybe I was just nervous starting on such a special piece of wood, but I swear the wood was vibrating.  It was exhausting work but what a feeling of accomplishment just to get it to this point.  

After roughing out a blank with some Pule wood that was drier, I got to try the fresh cut wood.  Maybe I was just nervous starting on such a special piece of wood, but I swear the wood was vibrating.  It was exhausting work but what a feeling of accomplishment just to get it to this point.  

I should know this by now: Don't temp the Gods!  Working away on my smiling faced mask and having lovely conversations with Anom on teaching, family, state of the world, etc. Foolish me I say "I have never carved though the front of a mask"  The Gods smacked me down for my smug remark.  I held the mask up to the light and I had literally come paper thin in one spot.  You could probably read through the wood it was so thin.  Humbling.  

I should know this by now: Don't temp the Gods!  Working away on my smiling faced mask and having lovely conversations with Anom on teaching, family, state of the world, etc. Foolish me I say "I have never carved though the front of a mask"  The Gods smacked me down for my smug remark.  I held the mask up to the light and I had literally come paper thin in one spot.  You could probably read through the wood it was so thin.  Humbling.  

Most  days at the hot part of the day I would put water on my head and lay on the cool tile floor to cool down.  After my near disaster I spent extra time looking at these beautiful carvings.  

Most  days at the hot part of the day I would put water on my head and lay on the cool tile floor to cool down.  After my near disaster I spent extra time looking at these beautiful carvings.  

Week one mask. Pule wood (some of the older, drier wood) The dark marks under the eyes are pitch pockets.  I love where they ended up but had nothing to do with that.  We call that lucky carving.  Photo by P. Walton

Week one mask. Pule wood (some of the older, drier wood) The dark marks under the eyes are pitch pockets.  I love where they ended up but had nothing to do with that.  We call that lucky carving.  Photo by P. Walton

Week one smiling mask. Pule wood (freshly cut Pule wood, repaired "almost" carve through )  Photo by P. Walton

Week one smiling mask. Pule wood (freshly cut Pule wood, repaired "almost" carve through )  Photo by P. Walton

Week two it was on to doing all the steps myself and using a new wood, Hibiscus.  It was much harder and denser than the Pule but wonderful to carve since it has beautiful colors that are especially vivid when first cut.  The piece of wood was about four finger longer than the normal mask length and I choose to leave that so that I could use it for "hair." 

Week two it was on to doing all the steps myself and using a new wood, Hibiscus.  It was much harder and denser than the Pule but wonderful to carve since it has beautiful colors that are especially vivid when first cut.  The piece of wood was about four finger longer than the normal mask length and I choose to leave that so that I could use it for "hair." 

It was so fun carving the Hibiscus wood.  I never knew what would surface as I carved.  The coloring was marbled and not like any wood I have ever carved before.  Carving the wood wet is such a different way of working.  

It was so fun carving the Hibiscus wood.  I never knew what would surface as I carved.  The coloring was marbled and not like any wood I have ever carved before.  Carving the wood wet is such a different way of working.  

By the end of the week the Hibiscus was about 75% done.  I have continued working on it since my return.  Photos by P. Walton

By the end of the week the Hibiscus was about 75% done.  I have continued working on it since my return.  Photos by P. Walton

Anom not only is a fabulous carver and teacher he is also a community leader.  Here he is preparing offerings for families that are about to start building.  He carefully inscribes text and images on various objects that will go at the base of the building.    

Anom not only is a fabulous carver and teacher he is also a community leader.  Here he is preparing offerings for families that are about to start building.  He carefully inscribes text and images on various objects that will go at the base of the building.  
 

The doors to my room. Each set of doors in the building were carved with similar but individual floral designs.   Everywhere there was such beauty.  

The doors to my room. Each set of doors in the building were carved with similar but individual floral designs.   Everywhere there was such beauty.  

My alarm clock, 5 year old Gustu.  Every morning I would hear the doors lightly rattle and this little voice calling " Sheri, Sheri are you awake?"  In the evening I would ask what he learned at school and he would proudly say "Transportation"  He also shared his cold with me.  

My alarm clock, 5 year old Gustu.  Every morning I would hear the doors lightly rattle and this little voice calling " Sheri, Sheri are you awake?"  In the evening I would ask what he learned at school and he would proudly say "Transportation"  He also shared his cold with me.  

The hardest thing for me was the traffic.  I have never seen so many scooters.  They drive on the opposite side of the street and pedestrians have no right of way.  I couldn't tell what the rules of the road were but it all seemed to somehow work.  

The hardest thing for me was the traffic.  I have never seen so many scooters.  They drive on the opposite side of the street and pedestrians have no right of way.  I couldn't tell what the rules of the road were but it all seemed to somehow work.  

My most gracious hosts, Anom and Dayu.  I was treated so well.  

My most gracious hosts, Anom and Dayu.  I was treated so well.  

I stayed with Dayu's mother just around the corner from where I was working.  She was an amazing cook and made sure I had breakfast and dinner.  She spent many hours of the day making some of the leaf baskets for the daily offerings.  I loved watching her make them.  There was not a wasted movement.  

I stayed with Dayu's mother just around the corner from where I was working.  She was an amazing cook and made sure I had breakfast and dinner.  She spent many hours of the day making some of the leaf baskets for the daily offerings.  I loved watching her make them.  There was not a wasted movement.  

Here is the last day carving.  Ketut, in the background, sands many of Anom's mask's.  Some of you have heard my story of Made, the lovely gentleman that packed up my tools and masks for my return home.  He carefully packed everything and did a wonderful job.  Anom was on the phone when he was done so I asked him if I could give him something for his work.  He really spoke no English  so I reached into my wallet and handed him a bill.  He was ever so gracious and motioned thank you with a big smile.  Later that night since I had a hard time with converting rupiahs I checked my phone app and to my horror found that I had given him a 14 cent tip.  Luckily I saw him the next day and was able to give him a more appropriate tip.  We both had a good laugh about it.   

Here is the last day carving.  Ketut, in the background, sands many of Anom's mask's.  Some of you have heard my story of Made, the lovely gentleman that packed up my tools and masks for my return home.  He carefully packed everything and did a wonderful job.  Anom was on the phone when he was done so I asked him if I could give him something for his work.  He really spoke no English  so I reached into my wallet and handed him a bill.  He was ever so gracious and motioned thank you with a big smile.  Later that night since I had a hard time with converting rupiahs I checked my phone app and to my horror found that I had given him a 14 cent tip.  Luckily I saw him the next day and was able to give him a more appropriate tip.  We both had a good laugh about it.   

I carved next to this wonderful stone carving everyday.  

I carved next to this wonderful stone carving everyday.  

Tool sharpening in Bali is very different than what we do here.  It seems as if the stones are sort of in between oil stones and water stones. They are softer than oil stones but used with water.  There is no slurry from the stone like when you use a water stone.   

Tool sharpening in Bali is very different than what we do here.  It seems as if the stones are sort of in between oil stones and water stones. They are softer than oil stones but used with water.  There is no slurry from the stone like when you use a water stone.   

Can't wait to go back.  

Can't wait to go back.  

Posted on April 4, 2017 .