I finally talked my uncle Charles K. Hamer, "Unc", into teaching me how to make a hand- carved dough bowl.
He cut out two slabs of beautiful aged cherry from a tree felled by Hurricane Katrina. Wood grown on our family farm.
I managed to last four hours, steadily tpat, tpat, tpat, tpat, tpat, my little wimpy hammer strikes against the chisel, carving out the cherry hardwood.
Unc's decisive, confident TAP, TAP, TAP was a stark contrast to my timid beginner strikes.
Folks, I have strong hands and forearms because of my years of sculpting. I thought I would be OK with using wood as a sculpting medium. NOT!
It smells like a post-game locker room here. Not the sweaty body odor stuff, but a topical analgesic mushroom cloud from the three or four topical creams I have tried on these hands. Imagine a bad toothache in every joint of your hands.
The smell has even driven two Westies off of the bed. All five of them were stretched out against me just a little while ago, administering their special brand of therapy.
Gordon thankfully has sinus tonight, so the pungent smell is not driving him away. *grin* He is rubbing and massaging my hands and arms and bringing me hot salt water to soak my left hand. (How did I ever deserve him?)
Here is the really NOT smart part.
Yesterday, I injured my pointer finger of my left hand. I'm not going to tell you how I injured my hand because it will just reinforce that "I am not smart" thing even more!
My pointer finger on my left hand is swollen about twice as large as it should be. I can't bend it at all, and the angry hot redness extends well past my knuckle. It hurts to even look at it. *laugh at myself*
So today, while jumping feet first into this new artform, I managed to hit the swollen knuckle of my left hand with the hammer not once... not twice... not three, four, or five times... but SIX TIMES!
Please go back and re-read the first sentence of this post.
IMPORTANT: A chisel is sharp and dangerous, especially when propelled by the force of a hammer. Do not attempt this project without the sage advice and oversight of an experienced wood-worker. A chisel can cut deep into human tissue, cutting vital blood vessels and important muscles, etc.
Once, while I was in college, I rode horses all morning with some friends, having not been on a horse in years and years. That afternoon, another couple of friends convinced me to go roller skating with them. I remember getting out of bed the next morning and hitting the floor because my legs refused to transport me anywhere.
It has been more than 25 years since that little folly. I can smile about it now. For some reason I've been thinking about my college-era thirst for trying something new. *laugh* There seems to be a pattern de-cloaking here.
So, why a dough bowl? Weeelllll, I cut my teeth on family stories of my Great-great-great Grandfather James Cochran Hamer leaving the Carolinas with his four motherless boys and wagons filled with everything he would need to carve a farm out of the Mississippi wilderness.
It was 1837. James' wife, Ann Flowers Hamer, had died from complications following the birth of their fourth son. The infant was just a couple of months old when, according to family history, James showed up at the relative's house and said, "I want my boys. I'm going to Mississippi."
Growing up on this farm that my great-great- great- grandfather James established in 1837, I would daydream about carving a cave out of the red Mississippi clay.
I did not know then that the embankment I chose for the cave was actually the levee of the pond that Lillibeth dramatized recently. A cave dug in a man-made levee would not have been a good idea. *crooked grin*
But back to my childhood fantasy. I wanted to catch beaver and make my own beaver fur coat. I would have preferred mink, but if there are any little feral mink on the farm, we have not seen them.
Mentally, I designed my pioneer cave interior and what I would need to survive like my forefather. I was really into the Daniel Boone television show at that time as well!
I think I even dragged a shovel all the way to the pond to start the dig. LOL Yep, I was too small to carry the shovel. After moving a few spoonfuls of the baked Mississippi mud, I decided to go play in my playhouse.
You know, I don't think I have ever shared this childhood fantasy. LOL Please go back and read the first sentence. he he he
Sunday (tomorrow) afternoon, I will continue my quest to create that primitive dough bowl. You will certainly be seeing more of this Regeneration Therapy.
The last two pictures are of the Williamsburg-like apple trees that Unc made for Christmas gifts this year. Look here and here to see Unc's woodworking last year, 2006.
You can pick out the three red cedar apple trees and cedar rolling pin that Unc made from a branch of a cedar tree that had, for decades, shaded the old farmhouse on a neighboring farm. They were gifts to the descendants of that family-owned farm.
Somehow it touches something deep, deep inside to hold an object made from a piece of wood that was alive and growing on the very land your ancestors were struggling to tame from the dense, rich Mississippi wilderness.