Blood, wood, Art?

So, woodworking lately has put me more and more in mind of … well, woodworking. And having to carve out some … irregular and dangerous bits from the lamps I was working on has finally given my hands a bit of practical experience with carving, so that my mind startes thinking of it again. And so I brought some carving tools up to my room and started work again on a little chunk of wood I’d had some feelings about carving in the past, and I’ve been whittling away at it the last few days.

And tonight, as I was taking a break between coding an experimental comic (you’ve probably already read it by now, but I’m about … 20 hours of work into it so far, and expect another 10 or so before it’s all to my satisfaction… and then I begin testing it on PCs) and transcribing and posting my “Vintage” short stories, and was carving away.

Now, the chunk of wood I’m working on is pretty small, just a couple of inches by a couple of inches by about an inch, so there’s not a lot of room to hold it so that I’m not carving towards some part of me. Which usually isn’t a problem; I’m pretty careful most of the time. But tonight I managed to hit my thumb.

At first I couldn’t even see that there was something wrong. The tool must be pretty sharp. My thumb goes directly into my mouth, but … nothing. Just pain. No blood, no obvious wound. Except that after a bit of sucking, I’ve pulled up the flap of flesh that was cut by the blade, and I can bit it off, which I try to do. I get most of it. I can see now that while the wound is small, it may be deep. I am still not bleeding externally.

I press my thumb firmly (and out of the way) back against the wood and continue carving. After a couple of moments, when I take my thumb away, I see that I have started bleeding, and there is a drop of blood on the wood. I rub it up and down a feature I have carved into the wood with my thumb, spreading it out.

It spreads too thin, it’s just barely pink now. But my thumb is bleeding pretty fast now. I press my thumb against that spot again and carve some more to pass the time. Now there is a little line of blood and a big impression of blood from where my thumb was pressed. Again, I spread the blood out, rubbing it into the wood, hoping it will stain the wood. The blood is dark at first, and deep in hue, even as I spread it across the feature. The color that remains as the blood is spread evenly, but very very thinly, is a surprizingly red red. I keep bleeding on that side of the wood until I am satisfied with my application of blood, perhaps staining, to that feature.

I have begun squeezing my thumb as I have had so many blood technicians do to get drops of blood to swell from my fingertips, using the larger drops to get the color of the blood into the tiny cracks and crevases in the wood, then using the moistened surface of my bleeding thumb to create an even value of color across the feature. Once I am satisfied, I move to a feature on the opposite side of the wood, and I begin to color it to match.

By now, my blood is beginning to slow; I’m really having to squeeze to get more out, and I’m not sure it will be enough to cover the entire feature. With some perseverence, I am able to get a satisfying hue and value of red to both features, on opposite sides of the wood, before my blood stops up.

I am not 100% satisfied with the carving of the rest of the wood, but these two features were already done. I am thinking now about sanding and carefully working with the remainder of the wood to get it into the kind of shape and quality level that I would like, then see about how it takes a finish. See whether the blood actually stained the wood or not. See how the color is affected by the finish.

I am thinking, perhaps too much, about the whole thing. I am … very … my creative mind goes fast and furious to work when the subject of blood play and blood art comes to it. I have been able, mostly, to avoid exposure to blood all my life, in any significant, exposed quantity. Blood in bags and jars and machines, as when I donate blood or plasma, is … it seems antiseptic and without artistic merit to me there; too cold and scientific and unnatural. Blood spilled out across the floor, pooling and puddling… Blood dripping and draining and sometimes squirting from openings in people, from the mistakes they have made and left behind while they tend to themselves first and this “mess”, this … living, powerful, emotion-inducing substance which inspires me in so many ways.

I have avoided the sight of blood most of my life, not because it offends me, but because it excites me.

It’s like avoiding having anything in my home which could be used to seriously, perhaps fatally, harm someone; myself or others. I know myself too well. I know that sometimes my mind turns to thoughts of death, of my own, or of other people’s at my hands. I know that I am entranced by blood, that if I had a knife that could cut, draw blood, it would be hard for me to stop. I have never wanted to be one of those people who carves into his own flesh for pleasure, but I suspect that if carving my flesh was what it took to get the blood, I would be covered in scars. And I suspect that if I had not made too many ways to keep myself from it, from keeping dangerous items away to making sure there are people who would always suspect me of murder should someone go missing or some clue turn up, I would have hurt a great number of people by now.

But here, let’s move off that a bit:

I’m thinking now about what I can do with blood. Can I stain woods, and what woods, and to what degree? Can I add blood to finishes to change their hue, as was prominently featured in the motion picture The Red Violin? Can I create paints from acrylic medium and blood? And dried blood? Can I put together “installation” art pieces with flowing, real, blood in them? Am I allowed to just play in blood? It’s so neat. I just want to bathe in it.

(I own the DVD of Forsaken, a mediocre vampire movie; it won me over in the first scene, which features a naked young woman, covered entirely in blood. I saw it in the theatre, and as soon as the woman covered realistically in blood (she was trying to shower it off) came on the screen I thought to myself something like “Wow! This movie is great! Nudity AND a literal blood bath, and in the first thirty seconds! Wow! I love it!”)

Anyway, that’s probably enough of that. I better go to bed. Heath will be getting up for school in a few minutes, and he thinks it’s silly of me to still be awake when he gets up.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.