Several years ago I made a chest for my daughter. I thought I would be playful and carve some of the small animals that live around the pond and place them on her chest. As I worked on the design of a Great Blue Heron I got the idea of showing his feet below a water line. That led to little fishes ,worms and other insects that live in this totally different, alternative universe. Years later, when I tried to think how I wouild build this mantel, I saw the shelf as a dividing line between that which lives in the air, and that which lives below. The lower part of the mantle reflects the underwater life of a warm water pond in central Maine, the upper a geography of trees and sunlight.
Had I known the issue involved I doubt I would have begun this project. It's detail consumed days of sanding, filing and fitting small pieces to make a waterscape that felt like the pond we grew up on. The shelf has lily pads carved into the surface that seem to collect every piece of dust within the shop. Once done, the photography was nearly impossible. The density of the underworld is such that it does not reflect light or admit enough to illuminate all of the complexities. Its size makes it hard to capture the mantle without a lot of dead space around it and there is no way to get a picture of the whole thing without the top or the bottom dominating the image.
I do have to say, that it graces a wall and adds so much visual interest to a room decor that the effort might have been worth it. I might even make another one.
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