Yesterday morning I made this sketch of a koi on a piece of paper on my floor. The idea had been underway in my journal for a couple of weeks, but it was time to go big. I love working with full sized templates like this. I feel like I’m channeling the old school mason-architect-engineers who built the cathedrals; they drew their plans on the floor, life-sized. The plans themselves were the templates and guides for the other craftsmen.
It’s been a mad dash since then. I cut the poster to bits. I’ve been to buy stone a couple of times and spent most of two days in the shop, wrapped in my respirator, goggles and ear plugs, lost in a dusty, furiously noisy world. I cut 23 pieces of stone, ruined a couple of brand new blades and really cracked my knuckle good on a unruly grinder. I assembled the whole piece in my driveway tonight, making lots of last minute adjustments. The rough draft is visible below.
I like the direction it’s going, though there are things I would do differently. All the things I don’t care for are the direct result of trying to make this thing in two days. I skipped an important step in the templating, which is transferring the paper piece to roofing felt. This is very time consuming, but gives a sturdier, more reliable guide that can tolerate the bath the stone gets whilst cutting. The hasty cutting, in addition to be rough on my hands, means the joinery isn’t as tight and consistent as I would have liked. I’ve taken to calling it fresh fish. Honestly, yesterday morning I didn’t think it would be possible to finish in time.
Below you will see the fish assembled, but not leveled. First thing tomorrow morning I’ll be taking it apart and loading it on my truck again, so I didn’t spend a lot of time getting the surfaces flush. That’ll happen when I install it at the Home Show, which starts Friday. Drop in and see what I’ve figured out to fill the little gap in the pectoral fin!