Turning Stone Into Vessels

Alabaster and ebony, together in perfect harmony.

Ainsley Bodman always enjoyed the intrinsic beauty of rocks, but focused her artistic endeavors on sculpting wood - beautifully simple forms, both human and animal.

While touring in Tennessee, she found renewed passion for minerals after discovering a bowl turned from stone. She soon bought a lathe and began the journey of discovery, using the traditional woodworker's tool as a potter might throw a vase on a wheel - except vertically.

"The hardest part is getting it thin," Bodman says. "Turning has taught me patience." She uses Italian alabaster and alabasters from the western United States in shades of "root beer" and "raspberry."

What makes Bodman's work unique is the segmentation of contrasting elements. She "glues up" ebony for a rim and footing while the body of the vessel may be two or more segments of a contrasting rich green soapstone or a pure alabaster. The whole chunk is then turned on the lathe. As the layers come off, the inner grain of both the stone and wood are revealed. This is the part that thrills Bodman the most. "I am always surprised by the veins in the stone; none are ever the same."

Bodman's other work includes carved-wood animals perched on stone, carved-stone animals perched on wood, stones sculpted for Ikebana flower arranging and two-dimensional stone reliefs. She is a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and will be exhibiting at the annual fair, running from August 1 to 9 at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury.

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