Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September 16

Sept 14
We traveled to a monastery about 150km from Penza today (police with flashing lights leading us all the way, ha ha). The building and grounds are beautiful and interesting. After a meal at the monastery we traveled a few km to some caves where the monks once lived. There are many km of caves in this mountain, you could easily become lost. Each of us held a candle for light, what a place to live!
Sept 16
Nothing out of the ordinary yesterday just more wonderful food, traditional entertainment etc. The music is so much fun to listen to and the costumes are incredibly ornate. We all end up dancing every night.
Today I was surprised that for breakfast we had caviar and ice cream drumsticks. Sweets are common fare at breakfast in Russia, including chocolate bars. I went in to Penza to see the lathe I will use, starting on Thursday, I think I will only need one day to do the turning on my sculpture.
Sept 17
As the lathe is not large enough to handle my wood, (70cmX2m) I had to prep the log for tomorrow. I didn’t expect this so I didn’t bring a chainsaw. Thomas from Slovenia lent me his and in a couple of hours my material was ready to take to town. The wood they supply is oak, I’ve never worked such a large piece of oak before. There is lots of it here, I don’t think it is such a special material as it is at home. Well in Viet Nam they make floors in sheds with teak.
Sept 18
At the woodworking factory we realized the lathe isn’t quite big enough to handle such a large piece. They assigned one of the workers as my assistant and told me anything I needed him for to just go and get him, Eugene is his name. The owner, Demitrie and Andre really went out of their way to help me get going. We went to two other factories that have lathes but still not one large enough so I decided to reduce the size of my sculpture so that I could get going on the first machine. A truck came and we took my material to a place that makes log homes, there they reduced the size to 26cm diameter which will mean I have to make a shorter sculpture if I want to keep the same design that I intended. That’s part of the symposium thing, tools, material, weather, sickness…….can all affect what you may end up being able to do. Sometimes you have to modify your plans because of something unexpected. I started to work about 4pm and finished around 8, will have to come back tomorrow.

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