Thursday, August 27, 2009


As a little kid, I liked to carve. And as a clumsy little kid, I always sliced into a finger or two. Afraid my mother would take away my carving tools, I never told anyone about the cuts, and would just go wash out the blood and guts under the garden hose. And then it would get all very fascinating to peel apart the flaps of skin and look deep inside.

Invariably, I would start carving with intention, then end up with something unintentional. Like a house might become a mountain, a tree a car, a horse a nun.

The nun is the sole survivor of my carving period, completed when I was about eight or nine. As you can see, I wasn’t picky about the piece of wood I used, any shape, any scrap would do. No time to waste when the muse is upon you. I remember very well when the nun-ness of the piece revealed itself to me, and obedient to my craft, I changed course. The mane became a wimple, the eye became a cross, and so forth.

As we weren’t Catholic, we weren’t really anything, religiously speaking, this nun had to be very insistent to make herself heard. Maybe the Sound of Music was big that year.

And how she survived all this time I haven’t a clue. I found her at the bottom of a box of old stuff while looking for something else entirely.


  1. I'd say thats fairly sophisticated for a nine year old. And what was a nine year old doing with a carving set?

    I still carry my carving scar on my index finger. Push the blade away from your body "away from your body"

    I never listened

    Nor did I when they said don't look at the keys when you type. Thats been a life long hindrance

    left you an e-mail

  2. Love the nun! Could have been the Sound of Music -- or The Singing Nun, or the movie with Jennifer Jones. I don't think I ever thought about it until now, but there was a time not too long ago when there must have been a bit of a fascination with nuns.

  3. Or The Flying Nun

    When you started talking about carving with intention I was really afraid that this was going to turn in to a piece about self cutting.

  4. There's nothing I like more than reading about blood and guts right after breakfast.

    Primitive folk art is a big $eller Karin. See if you can recapture the muse. Ka-ching!!!

  5. This is wonderful. It's great that you have a least one remnant, besides the scars, from your carving years.

  6. Your story reminds me of the secrets we learn to keep, even when we're little. And yet when as parents, we find our children keeping their own secrets, we're always surprised. I agree with pasadenaadjacent, by the way--that's some sophisticated carving for a kid, Karin.

  7. Yet another interesting essay.

    (BTW, this is such a good likeness of a nun that it's made my psychosomatic rash flare up.)

  8. Like a lot of people we lost everything in Hurricane Ivan. Seeing your piece is both a wonder and the source of great envy. I know some time has passed, but I just can't help it, it's not like I was the one who decided things weren't worth keeping. Sigh. There's always something to work out. Or maybe it's because the 5 year anniversary is almost here. Or we're in the middle of hurricane season.

    Anyway, the piece is amazing, KB, I hope it didn't go back to the box. Maybe you were ready for your inner nun to come to light?

  9. I always knew you were good with your hands. Even doing a nun.

  10. There's a blessing for the Czar spoken in "Fiddler on the Roof". I could have used it for a few nuns in my growing up years. Their essence seems to be fully captured in your work of art.

  11. Well Little Miss Michelangelo, you did a pretty good job on that nun. Looks like the "outsider" art they sell down here for thousands.

    Great, now "The hills are alive.......... is stuck in my head.

  12. Ghoulish.

    I tried to make homemade lentil soup once. It ended up including a piece of my index finger. I didn’t tell the kids. They’re brave and strong now. And cannibalistic.

    PJ, her inner nun??? What am I missing?

    CafĂ©, “doing” a nun? I’m not even Catholic, and I quiver.

  13. Nun of the above.


  14. Sometimes in life we choose the wrong decisions, which are realized afterwards.

    Do that means that we should stand on that stupid decision the rest of our life……. Or maybe try to go back to the origins which still are there.

    You should make up your own mind.

    Don’t ask too many, they all have their own mirrors here.

    Btw: we are all Alice!

  15. PJ, your comment brought me up short. Five years since Ivan.

    Stuff is only stuff, but we surely are attached to some of it. There is so much I admire about you, including the fact that you and your husband are rebuilding or actually building your new house with your own two x two hands and from scratch.

  16. "I found her at the bottom of a box of old stuff while looking for something else entirely."

    I'm just gonna think on this as a metaphor for how you created this artwork, and for creating art in general. Lately I've been trying to do one thing, but am constantly drawn to something else. Maybe I should listen to that.

  17. Karin, I think you should thwack yourself across the scar tissue with a yardstick.

    It's only fitting. I went to Catholic school long enough to know these things are essential for the growth of the "artist."

    PJ, I know how you feel.

  18. PJ, Mademoiselle Gramophone may be the one person here who really does know how you feel.

  19. She looks worried. Was she trying to solve a problem like Maria? I'm glad you found her again.

  20. Love it. Love her. Isn't it amazing how images reveal themselves to us as we work?

  21. Seams to me like you keep racking your brain and looking for something.

    I think you found it and don't even realize it. What I think your trying to get in touch with is your inner child; the one that managed to tap into the unrestricted creative self.

    Stop racking and start doing.

    That Carving and even the choice of colors is awesome for a 9 year old... did you miss your calling?

  22. A NUN! Nice. Carving is creativity in 3D (I'm so intelligent!). If now a nun appears something means. But what?

  23. a sad face....full of humanity

  24. Ha ha, you guys were awfully sweet to my accidental nun. I had to keep turning it around to find the original horse.

    PA: Yeah, go figure. I had a carving set. Still have it.
    Margaret: Amazon has a list of the best nun movies ever.
    Susan: Ew. Tho awash in bad habits, that wasn't one of them.
    Wayne: Blood and guts, it's what's for dinner.
    Jean: Ah yes, the scars.
    Terry: I just know you're a good dad.
    CO: I need an interpreter for that one.
    K, MG & Pierre: Another Catholic school horror story? Nuns always looked pretty sweet to us outsiders.
    Virg: I'll say I found it in an old mission.
    Banjo: PJ has great hopes for me.
    Shell: You would have painted her in pastel pinks and blues
    Shanna: I know. Writing is the same way.
    MTG: I thought racking was doing. You mean there's more to it than that?
    Italo: Don't ask K, MG, or Pierre what it means.
    Ken Mac: Just proving how accidental this was...

  25. I refer you to an xxcellent interpreter of my Norwegian - MG. If you don't like what she says, try interpreters MH or Kenny Mac.

  26. Great story, I love to cook and have many knife wounds on my fingers. You have to learn by doing and with using sharp tools you will cut yourself.

  27. "I thought racking was doing. You mean there's more to it than that?"

    LOL, you're a really great sit down and type comedian, ever consider standup?

  28. Nice nun, I like the roughness and I'm pretty sure I saw a really similar carving for sale in Puerto Rico somewhere...

    Did the parents every find the carving tools?

    I think the only thing I hid successfully from my parents were moldy PBJ sandwiches that I didn't want to eat. I don't know why under my bed seemed like a better place than the trash can.