by Ken Barnes
Clam. Not quite the one you'll find on a beach. Liberated from a basalt end cut, $100 at Marenakos. Sat in my sketchbook for 7 years; originally an appendage of a planned bench. I have had a hundred bench ideas, a couple of them even good, but I just don't seem to be a bench person. I sketch for them, and even buy the stone. Still, I'm benchless in Seattle.
When SouthEast Effective Development (go to: seedseattle.org) asked that I propose an installation for their Rainier Court Pocket Park I pitched a three stone grouping that fit neatly within their budget, complete with plaster maquettes. I sensed there was some play with the budget, so I also offered a photocopy of my sketchbook page, bench cut out, and suggested that if they found more money I could add the clam. Not a great sketch, but it conveyed the character. They demanded the clam, while I raised the budget. My initial blocking out was done too hastily, and I missed the curve I thought I wanted.
However, the striations along the clam body saved me, really making the curve come to life. Another Happy Accident.
I depend upon the Happy Accident in my work. Serendipity. You must have a prepared and open mind to receive the Happy Accident. In fact, on pieces where there is no Happy Accident, where the piece turns out looking exactly like my visualization, I dislike the sculpture. Not enough surprise? Not enough interplay between me and the stone? Maybe I carve stone for the resistance, and if stones give in without a fight it's just not enough challenge? Do I dislike the outcome of my work if I have carved without a prepared and open mind?