TRUE STORY: I was living with a potter, Sandra, for 6 years in Central Florida. I did the glazing. We sold our wares at art shows around the state. At a show in Fernandina Beach we were set up next to an unusual couple: A lithesome, outgoing 25 year old California girl with long auburn hair dressed in a bright flowered muumuu. Her companion, a wood-carver, was a 6 foot five Hawaiian stoic who grunted occasionally. During the early morning we began to chat. I was quite taken with the man’s astounding carvings. Ranging from 6 inches to 3 feet, they were sculptures of various birds and sea creatures. Amicably we agreed upon exchanging one of our pieces for one of his at the end of the show. I was thrilled.
Later the carver called me over and showed me a 2 foot piece of koko bolla wood from Brazil. It was about 7 inches in diameter with attractive amber grain running through it. The sculptor, now known to me as Tualo from Tonga in the South Pacific, cut the piece in half. During the remaining hours and the next day I watched in awe as he carved and sanded. Never once did I see him consult drawings or use tools other than chisels.
The final hours of the show he laboriously smoothed surfaces. Then with a shy smile and a radiant sense of accomplishment he presented me with an outstanding, lifelike wood sculpture: A mother dolphin leaping out of water alongside her two calves. I have kept this cherished ‘creation’ on top of the ‘uncarved’ piece of koko bolla, an unexpected bonus, alongside a picture of Tualo. I neglected to mention that he had learned his skills from his uncle while young and was regarded as a Master of his craft in Tonga. I will never forget the experience of watching breathtaking beauty emerge from an innocuous piece of wood. Oh, I felt a little guilty so I gave him TWO of our oil lamps.
have you wondered why we create such beauty?