Monday, March 31, 2014


But the kind river even yet did deem
That she should live, and, with all gentle care,
Cast her ashore within a meadow fair.
Upon the other side, where Shepherd Pan
Sat looking down upon the water wan,
Goat-legged and merry, who called out, "Fair maid
Why goest thou hurrying to the feeble shade
Whence none return? Well do I know thy pain,
For I am old, and have not lived in vain;
Thou wilt forget all that within a while,
And on some other happy youth wilt smile;
And sure he must be dull indeed if he
Forget not all things in his ecstasy
At sight of such a wonder made for him,
That in that clinging gown makes mine eyes swim,
Old as I am: but to the god of Love
Pray now, sweet child, for all things can he move."
Weeping she passed him, but full reverently,
And well she saw that she was not to die
[Pg 54]Till she had filled the measure of her woe.
-William Morris, The Earthly Paradise

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Cuts #OccupyCommonGround

Made the couple first roughing cuts on new carving for the show #OccupyCommonGround.  As seems to happen half the time, despite using a tape measure, I swear, I think I'm going to have to subtly scale the pattern down to fit in the wood.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

First Step: #occupycommonground

In other news I sketched out the full size cartoons for my piece 'The Magic Mirror' in preparation for the fall show, #occupycommonground.  It will be a first for me, mixing woodcarving with a digital display.

Full size cartoons for the carving ~19x15x12 in

Didn't start cutting, but the log earmarked for the project.


Nearing completion on all components now. Being fussy I have completed a new skull, now being fitted to the main mask a bit more carefully than the first was. On right repairs in progress on the articulated lower jaw. Once this is done and everything is rough fitted. it will sit for two weeks to dry a bit more. Final assembly, another couple coats of oil, and it will have a month or so to dry before shipping out.

CCLXVIII: a tear I

Is it odd I've decided to document historic tree related flesh wounds?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CCLXV: Mountaintop

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, April 3, 1968

Monday, March 17, 2014

CCLXIII: My Worthiness is all my Doubt

What is wrong with me that I let post 256 pass without comment, they'll take away my Computer Science PhD. I feel I should transition to writing my post numbers in binary in penance, but if I sit down that will probably pass...

My Worthiness is all my Doubt—
His Merit—all my fear—
Contrasting which, my quality
Do lowlier—appear—

Lest I should insufficient prove
For His beloved Need—
The Chiefest Apprehension
Upon my thronging Mind—

'Tis true—that Deity to stoop
Inherently incline—
For nothing higher than Itself
Itself can rest upon—

So I—the undivine abode
Of His Elect Content—
Conform my Soul—as 'twere a Church,
Unto Her Sacrament—

-Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cedar Lane Oak Boards

I went by Country Wood Products this Saturday to see the progress they've made on milling wood from the Cedar lane oak. Even though its a tiny fraction of the wood, it is still a heck of a lot of boards.  They have done a really great job. There are some really beautiful boards there. Though the logs were out for a bit too long and the sap wood is a bit more rotten than I'd have liked in palaces, still there are quite a few with nice intact live edges.  Look forward to getting to do some work with a few of them. 


You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus,"
And I said, "What's a crocus?" And you said, "It's a flower."
I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?"... 
Dar Williams, February 

First flowers...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CCLXI: Boards! a Preview

I'm too beat to do a full post, but as the daily pic, here's a preview of the work the folks at Country Wood Products are doing with some parts of the Cedar Lane Tree.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


"And again he brooded bitterly, trying to guess the end of it. Must he share the obvious doom of this false shape? Must he loose salvation because he had lost his shadow?"
- Lord Dunsany, The Charwoman's Shadow

Monday, March 10, 2014


"Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words."

Sunday, March 9, 2014


"What I shall remember forever is the change that presently came over his face. It was to me an utter astonishment. I did not understand it.  I should now. I have since seen the faces of other men as they began to believe, "This is death."  C.S. Lewis, Till we Have Faces

My mask week draws to a close with some significant progress on the project. A near final finish is over maybe 90% of the outer mask and hair. A little more and it's ready to oil and let dry for a bit before attempting final fitting. I'm now being struck by a temptation to carve a replacement skull, not being quite satisfied with its fit...

CCLVI: Joy of Words

"When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?"  -C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Saturday, March 8, 2014

CCLV: Treaty

"I now determined that I would go always veiled. I have kept this rule, within doors and without, ever since. It is a sort of treaty made with my ugliness."  -C.S Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Friday, March 7, 2014


“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, March 6, 2014

CCLIII: Clearly

"Veils of course. And good thick veils too." One of the other girls tittered, and I think that was the first time I clearly understood that I am ugly."  -C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


"The tears that stood in my eyes behind my veil were tears of pity for myself more than for him. I did not let them fall." C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CCLI: Waxen Mask

Presently the old man drew back his hood and pointed to the family resemblance in his face, but I only shuddered, because I was sure that the face was merely a devilish waxen mask.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Festival

Monday, March 3, 2014

CCL: Black Veil

"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!"  -Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Minister's Black Veil

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Holy Christ, there's nothing left.

Transformations II, in progress.

Well what do you want them to like you for,
that's the question to ask
Would it help you if everyone knew your face,
if that face were only a mask?

- David Wilcox, Sex and Music

This weekend I spent a lot of time working on my ongoing mask project: Transformations II. I also continued the seemingly endless website revisions on the (hopefully) soon to be relaunched, Dorothy Day Guild website. I judged the New York City Science and Engineering Fair. I also went to see Robocop.  That's a pretty random cocktail, even by my standards.  Do you ever have have the feeling that some mysterious thread is woven through a set of things like that? I told my collaborator on the Day website as I was leaving for the movie that it seemed like the least Dorothy Day-esque way imaginable to spend an evening. Afterward, in spite of quite a bit of fun with automatic weapons fire, I wasn't so sure. I think she would take an interest in the questions it raised (but couldn't quite address in the context of an action movie). What makes us human? What is the endpoint of the reductio ad absurdum of militarism and the search for power and money? How do we stay human in the face of the world's brutality? How do we understand and face the consequences of our actions?  It's not academic. I've interviewed at  defense contractors. My cell tracking work is slated for integration with an autonomous firing system, though the lasers are aimed 'only' at hapless worms on a microscope slide. When does your work get away from you?

That's at least somewhat related to another motif: masks. They've been much on my mind lately because of my carving project and for other reasons. Masks are resonant symbols and have always interested me both literally and metaphorically. Masks can be metaphorical in a lot of ways. Robocop's armored body is a mask, as the pretty raw scene this post takes it name from shows. The armor masks the fact that physically just about everything human is gone. The disembodied hand attached to the bag of internal organs drove me berserk with its implausibility. But maybe it was too resonant an image for them to pass up, the hand is almost as much a home for the soul as the heart, or the head.  In the context of the movie it too is a mask, providing the desirable illusion that there is physical humanity left.

Robocop, like most popular entertainment is about triumph over adversity. The machine almost eats the man, but doesn't. Even a severed head has a soul that can triumph over the weakness of steel and silicon flesh. But I've been thinking about the darker outcome. I've been thinking of the ability of masks to consume their creators, for the manufactured self to displace the real.  Since I've been working on my project a Japanese co-worker has been asking me periodically how I'm feeling. She tells me there are many stories about mask carvers loosing their health, even their soul because they pour too much of themselves into creating a masterpiece. As someone who's said that your life should be the greatest piece of art you create, its a thought that gives me pause. What does that mean exactly? What does it feel like to be eroded away till there is nothing left? How do you know if you are wearing a mask?