It’s spring in upstate NY which means it’s cold and damp and grey. If you’re here – we feel your pain. If you’re not – we hope the sun is shining on you.

Here’s a little indoor sunshine courtesy of Sandy Cline and Craig Sandberg. For those of you who haven’t met them, Sandy’s a carver from Canada that the Arts Center entices down our way every three or four years to teach soapstone carving and to feature work in the Gallery. Craig is a local who developed an interest years ago in Scandinavian folk arts and can often be found at the Arts Center teaching wood carving, chip carving (NOT Kris’ favorite), stained glass, weaving and other unique historic and “homely” crafts.

While both soapstone and wood carving do require some specialized supplies, it is possible to get a sense of what this particular art form is like by carving something simple – like soap!

If you have Ivory soap, that’s really ideal – if not, any soap that’s not too hard (crumbly) or too soft (mushy) will work. The great thing about carving soap is you can do it with a paring knife, the side of a household table spoon, a plastic knife, toothpicks (for detail work) and other semi-sharp objects you’re likely to have around the house. Trace your pattern on the bar of soap (Craig notes that you can use the whole bar and create a three-dimensional carving or you can carve a “relief” picture (like a 3D painting…someone’s face or a sailboat on the lake) on one side of your bar and then carve away the biggest unnecessary pieces, working from the inside outward, first. Put down a piece of newspaper to catch the shavings – they’re still useful for their intended purpose! Move from largest pieces to smaller details and don’t forget to “round” the “in between bits” that turn your two dimensional pattern into three dimensions.

Here’s a link to Sandy’s website with instructions on carving a swimming loon http://www.soapstonesculpture.com/loon/index.html and a few examples of Craig’s wood carving. Keep an eye out for future classes with both these talented artists on our website www.artscenteryatescounty.org – and don’t forget to send us pictures of what happens when you give this a try! Stay safe, stay healthy, keep your hands clean and “art on!”