Some thoughts on stones

by maggie

The last couple of weeks between loom band necklaces and (scheduled) head colds I’ve been thinking about rocks.

Most of what happens to rocks occurs in the dark, underground. When I look at them on the surface, either as outcrops or as little stones that have broken off and rolled around, I try to imagine what happened to give them their appearance.

It’s not easy.
Rocks have an amazing life cycle, which mainly involves heat, pressure and lots of lots of time. They can get forced up kilometres into the sky, sucked right down into the mantle, lurk around at the bottom of the sea or wear away in a windy desert. It’s weird to think that St Paul’s Cathedral (other Monuments are available) was once a kind of sea dandruff, or that the high Tors on the moors of Devon and Cornwall were once the foundations of mountains as tall as the Himalaya. Not that I can really imagine how tall the Himalaya actually are or that one day they be as round and gentle as the Caithness Low Lands.

People have worked out all this geology in the last 250 years by prying and poking and going for long walks in the rain. That really isn’t any time at all for a rock.
During their life cycle they’ll get squeezed and stretched, heated and cooled. Sometime they get blown up or dissolved – changed out of all recognition.
The pebbles I make have to be recognisable. When you play with little fist sized stones, on a beach perhaps, or in the dirt on top of a hill you know what you have even if you aren’t sure how they got there. ( With help of an ancient river who washed it’s valley away.) In play pebbles might stand for something; the counters in a game, the petals of a flower, soldiers in an army. Or they could just be pebbles; sorted by colour, or size – cherished for their closeness to the Platonic Ideal.

Not so my little bits of paper.

I want them though to capture something of the innate pebble-ness of pebbles so when I work on them I think about the darkness, the churning waters and all that time.

So a piece of paper isn’t a stone. (Neither is it a pair of scissors.)
Paper has it’s own properties, it’s own life cycle which involves pressure and quite a bit of water. It can be distorted and torn, absorb chemicals and corrode. Yet it rarely matches up to rock – you have to pretend.
I started with pebbles because they were a nice straightforward motif to experiment with in an art class. They had long caught my fancy as objects of curiosity. Over time they have become more than a convenience, they are a way to explore the natural world, the idiosyncrasies of technique and the tendency of the human brain to turn anything into a symbol.
Perhaps if I had my time again I would study Geology for the joy of it. Even if I never learnt the names for the different types of not quite the same things. I love going to the mountains and other broken places where the surface of the earth has frayed.

Each time I make a new piece of paper I think what kind of rock would it could be…
Hard or soft. Ancient or young. Scree (talus) or river pebble. Some rocks make better pebbles than others – some get washed away to make new rocks elsewhere.
Hopefully my pieces of paper with carry the wonder and the possibility along with them.

and for the patience here are some of the most recent images

cutting paper along it's folds and markings gives a quite different effect than tearing. i don't know why i didn't think of it before

cutting paper along it’s folds’ and markings’ gives a quite different effect than tearing. i don’t know why i didn’t think of it before

an exercise in intrusions

an exercise in intrusions