Jun

23

number four or perhaps dolphin number 3(b)? not sure just how to categorise it, or whether it is important or not, but it was a worthy way to begin this little blog.

i finally got to cast this little sucker yesterday, along with parts for another uninflated puffer fish, several links for another eagle ray bracelet, and some seahorses i plan on messing with in order to come up with a little different design for some earrings and pendant. more on that later.

hadn’t been able to do the cast as i was out to dive consistently of late. the currents are playfully different at times in this season, going from mellow to murderouos, but perhaps the most precise way of referring to them would be “unpredictable”. now, they are always unpredictable, but normally within certain limits. however, at times like this we get huge upwellings of deeper waters that interact with our regular currents in odd ways– they go backwards at times, or one might be trapped in a circular sort of movement, where no matter what you do it is against the current.

i had some friends in town, a family i have known for quite some time now, and we had some fun on sunday. we did palancar cuevas– caves– for the first tank, and the current was going out into the blue, so i had to keep us in some troughs in between the coral heads in order to have it be a little mellower. when we had to cross any open space it got to be a little bit like work, but we did see our fill of turtles out there, and had a grand time. apparently thomas is going to send me some photos of what we saw, so all of you out in the ether may get to see something different as well. second tank was on paso de cedral, and we once more had a good time, with turtles and dog-toothed snappers, toadfish, a nice big fat shark (thanks and a tip of the do-rag to you for that one, ann!!) as we were coming out of the long tunnel. instead of going along further i took us over the small hills to do some of the tops of cedral wall, passing by a small loggerhead turtle– great stuff and beautiful clear water, huge parrotfish and the like. i wanted to go inside to cedral shallows again, but the current was going out and so decided it would be easier going into santa rosa wall– good idea. some schools of horse-eyed jacks in there, a permit or two, and yet another ann find, a turtle on the inside of the reef. we finished the tank on santa rosa shallows, where we came across a vast loggerhead turtle resting out of the current behind a small hill– immense!! and i hear i might have photos to prove it.

but back to the dolphin– i finished up the eagle ray bracelet and got it almost ready to go– it still needs a clasp, which i shall receive tomorrow– and then did a bunch of the prefinishing of the dolphin piece. i was wondering how it would look, and i must say that it does look pretty good so far– as you can see from the pictures i cut down all the pink wax parts, making fins and flippers out of them, and they all seem to fit in with the design. it’s getting down to the nitty gritty, and i shall soon have to decide if this is it, or just return what i have been laboring upon to casting scrap. should i accept it i will have to go further and design a bale (part that the chain/cord goes through) before making a wax mold of the two pieces, so i can make more waxes to cast in the future.

then there is the matter of the seahorses. most people don’t realise that south seas pearls didn’t originally come from tahiti, but rather from the sea of cortez. more than the gold or silver, the spaniards prized these pearls, and when they found them they decimated the oyster beds trying to find more and more– they were that precious and valuable. finally the area recovered somewhat, and over the past hundred and fifty years they have been harvested on and off, with breaks for revolutions and other things, but the beds are now producing once more, albeit in a “cultured” sense more than anything. i plan on using some of these pearls with the seahorses, something elegant and almost retro (if that applies to designs hundreds of years old). but for a while you shall just have to stay tuned to this station for further devellopments in this matter, as this idea is still sortuv amorphous and enclosed in my head– i’ll keep you in the loop

Jun

17

the lone star pirates were here this last weekend, a grand slam bunch of ’em– 20+ divers for the two main days. originally we had planned on using two boats, but at the last moment (literally– the anita boat had already sailed and had to be called back) the rental boat had a large scale glitch with the transmission and so couldn’t get out of the marina. thank goodness that, for a homogenous group like this, the anita can handle it all. i must also doff my do-rag in the general direction of this group, whose patience with the process was about as good as could be hoped for– THANKS, YOU ALL!!

it turned into pretty easy diving though– we split them up into groups and did things separately, so as to give some better service. i went out with my friend roger (roe-hair as they pronounce it here) to back me up and we had a gas– plenty of sharkage out there, lots of turtles, and the currents were pretty good. even when they were strong, as in the last day, it was at least in line with the reefs. that day we dropped on dalilah, but we jumped close to the wall, at the deeper part of the reef, and found two nice little sharks in there. after this short bit of reef we came inside and dove dalilah proper– plenty of turtles and dog-toothed snappers, enormous groupers, flamingo tongues, lobsters, another shark. the current whipped us along though, and i had to keep us heading to one side so as to maintain the reef. in the end we did dalilah the deep part, then all the way through dalilah, crossed over some hills and ended up doing all of paso de cedral as well– not bad at all.

i think we had maybe a dozen for the night tank, or nocturno as we call it– a very productive tank it was too, once we got everyone together and on the same page. we saw a bunch of crabs and lobsters out there, some big ‘uns as well. small rays and even a sting ray.

my personal treasure for this evening was a smaller creature though– after poring through my “reef creatures” book i finally happened upon the photo of the ‘measled cowrie’– that was it!! of course, we see plenty of cowries out there, but this one had its’ mantle almost totally out of its’ shell, much in the manner of a flamingo tongue, and the mantle was fringed with tiny elongated “buds”– cilia if you will, and they were being used for locomotion of the creature. only a thin line of the shell itself was showing, looking a little deeper in color than the one in the picture i have, but those cilia were pretty much precisely what i see in the photo. great stuff!!

and then of course there were the octopus– octopi– think we saw maybe four or five of them, moving along and trying to hide out from our intense interest, changing colors or flattening out and assuming the texture of the corals around them. it was all so good that we extended the dive to 70+ minutes, coming up through all the bubbles to finally surface in the soft night air– time for refreshment!!

and thanks again, all you lone starred pirates– see you soon

Jun

9

at least that is the current count, although perhaps it would be more accurate to say two and a half dolphins, as the third is still “under construction”, as they say. i cut a second dolphin wax and was going to use it– until i woke up the next day and took another gander at the sucker, at which time i became a lot less eneamored of the beast. so today i took out yet more wax and did a little redesigning and began again.

i think that one of the problems is that i don’t have so much personal familiarity with dolphins– while i have been cutting other marine animal waxes i have always had the opportunity, should i be having a problem with some detail, to take a good look at the real thing from fairly close up– it’s amazing, all the odd shapes and details that animals have that you wouldn’t think of, but there it is if you look close enough. now, dolphins, at least in this area, are not too particular about coming close to divers– i have seen them from a little distance, but they are apt to move away quickly when they hear the bubbles. there WAS one time, a magical day it seemed, when we were doing paso de cedral, and our boat captain enticed a pod of dolphins to ride his bow wave, and then cruised in circles, bringing them over top of us THREE TIMES!! first we would hear their excited squeeking, then they and the boat passed above us like wonderful flying beings– not bad!!

but this has meant i have to pore through books, trying to translate the flat pages into three dimensional form. the “pose” i am looking for is one with the dolphin standing upon its’ tail, with the back arched, and this foreshortening is kicking my butt. so far this third one is definitely the best of the bunch, except i am not fond of the line of the mouth, it looks a little sneaky– should this one be “the one”, i may elect to just work it in the gold after casting. i didn’t have as much time to work on it as i would have liked today, i had to deal with the real world outside my house, but i may just get back into that airless jewellery studio again tomorrow and do battle.

well, tomorrow turned into today, and back at it i went. at times i was a little depressed with it, as i struggled to bring some life into the piece, but suddenly there came a time when i realised that things seemed to be going very well indeed. it took about an extra four hours today to get it done to the point shown in the photo. the pieces of pink wax in this and the picture before are applied sheet wax, and i shall be working on these when it is all cast up– dorsal and side fins. in reality, the dorsal fin is not seen in the posture that i have cut, but once more we have the difference between reality and perception– i think it will show out well like this. if not i shall just have to saw the part off and go from there. i really liked cutting the flukes– they turned into an interesting formation of themselves. my new gold shipment arrives in a few days, but i shall have to cast and finish up two eagle ray bracelets before i can get to the dolphin– i sold one bracelet and have another on order, so will make one to bring the inventory up as well. this will give me a little time in which to look at the wax again and again and again– mayhap there is something i missed. can’t wait to see this one cast up and finished, hope that it will show out as well as it looks right now.

Jun

1

not sure if i have used this photo i put in above, but it certainly loaded quickly.

i was out to dive once again a couple of mornings ago– the currents have been a little wacky at times of late. on this particular morning we ended up doing santa rosa wall– but in reverse!! the current strong and a little to the outside, but we managed it all right. always odd to see the reefs in this manner, at times it is like seeing it for the first time once more, but there was enough familiarity that i could still predict where we were to arrive at next. we ended up doing almost all of the tops of cedral wall as well, seeing a lot of green moray eels, perhaps three or four of them, a large amount of turtles, including one green turtle (most of what we see are hawksbills here, and the occasional loggerhead), and plenty of sharks, as well as a tiny drumfish in a hot water spring to be found on cedral wall, in amongst all the yellow grunts that hang around this little vent.

but the real excitement came when we dropped in to do punta tunich. the current was once more running backwards, so we chose our dropoff carefully, and arrived on the wall about where we had wanted, but there was a lot of current– not truly fast, but very strong, and heading out and down along the wall. we had to start bringing people over to the inside to escape the rush, and i can remember thinking that this was what sir edmund hillary felt– it was like clawing my way up the side of a mountain, with snow flying everywhere– except this was coral sand whipping by. lots of huge turtles out there in the current though, and the divers had trust in the divemaster and all went well. we got to the inside and found a bunch of lionfish in there, these creatures are currently invading the area, no natural predators to be found and a voracious appetite for other fish. quite beautiful, but deadly to other sea life, plenty of divemasters are killing them or capturing them, and there is some interest in making lionfish ceviche, although i have yet to have tasted it.

well, all was well that ended well, and everyone got back up on the boat happy as clams. i think that, well after they have forgotten most of the diving they did this week past they will remember the snowstorm on punta tunich.

and yesterday spelled the last day of diving for perhaps a week and a half, unless i receive a call. this meant that– happy day!! i could get out and work on the marble today, and i really put in the hours. four long shifts, and i made an impact. i have a lot of important things to do, including an emergency payment on my fideicomiso (part of owning property within x kilometers of the ocean for non nationals), but c’mon, i can’t just let it go another day without getting out there. it was worth it as well.

i worked almost exclusively on the central figure, the area of the face and torso, where the hands intersect with all this “plastic” merging. i include a couple of oddly-angled photos here, taken from above, but the areas i worked upon are not so apparent, for the most part. the work i did on the face was mostly around the eyes and mandibular area. i sketched in eyes, but only as a suggestion. the urge is to bring too much detail to these elements, but the central figure is meant to be something in transition, the pressure from the other figures’ hands altering it and shaping it, squeezing the plastic stone and giving it form and shape, its’ creation a product of the two natures of the artist. it was a great day of work out there in the sunshine.

tomorrow is the trip to cancun to make payment on the fideicomiso, but it is leavened by the fact i shall be able to scarf down some great curry at an east indian restaurant i know of there. wish me luck, i come back and return to one of my studios come thursday.