Hokitika - Jade Carving

This morning I got up at 6 to get ready to leave for 7, big over estimation. I figured since I couldn't see anything in the room it would take me longer to get ready which is usually the case. This did not happen, I had prepared enough the night before that everything was in its place and pretty much ready to go. As a result I left my room at 630am and it was very dark out. I hung around in the lounge for a few, checked my email, got a coffee and then left. As a reward, the sun rose magically along the way over the water and the mountains. I do love a good sunrise, such a great way to start the day for me.

The drive from Franz Josef to Hokitika takes about an hour and a half along some windy roads, some of the worst yet. I made it to Hokitika in plenty of time and had a drive around the whole town. It is oceanside so there are some great views. Ocean and then you turn around and there are the Southern Alps lining the sky.
It was cloudy-ish by that time. I got a coffee and headed to my activity for the day, jade carving!

Bonz N Stonz is where I did my carving with Steven Gwaliasi (not sure on the last name spelling). I had emailed him a couple of weeks ago to make an appointment, since it was the off season I didn't really need to but it was nice that he knew I was coming. They moved sometime in the last year or so I think to a new space closer to the main road. It was a nice space and Steven was wonderful. He guided me through the whole process from start to finish, helped immensely with the detailed work of my design and was just all around awesome. He is a super talented carver, so skilled.

First you pick or draw a design that you want. There are tons of examples and options if you are not a talented artist, but if you are this is a great activity for you. Since I am not, he told me to get an idea of what I wanted then to shade over the drawing and then retrace it, this actually worked because the drawing in the binder was a bit raised. Then you cut it out with a blade, then you pick your jade. They also have bone and shell carving there too, but I went straight for the jade. Picking the jade is just as hard as picking your design. There is a huge pile of it and it is pretty dusty so you have to spray it with water to get a sense of the color, even then it is hard. You have to find a piece that doesn't have a lot of cracks otherwise it might break on you. My design was larger than I expected so finding a piece was a bit tough. Once I did, I traced my design onto the jade in marker. Steven cut around it in the most basic way with a buzz saw and then gave it to me to show me how to use this other machine to get it closer to my outline. The learning curve on that was much better than I expected. From there there were tons of other steps. The actual carving part with a whole set of other tools, three different types of sanding, buffing and oiling. All told it took five hours to create my piece. I started at nine and didn't stop for a break, I worked straight through until I was done. He kept asking me if I was going to go for lunch.
Steven - cutting with the table saw. 
Pile of jade to start. 
Two steps in. 
Half way done. 
Almost done. 

My stone changed so much during the making of it. It started to morph before my eyes in color and the design took on a whole new thing from staring at it for so long. I am very happy with it. I couldn't thank Steven enough for all his help and guidance and carving the super hard parts. So fun!

After I was done with the carving I had a bite and then walked the town. The beach is right behind one of the "main drags" so I went for a walk. The ocean was so rough, I couldn't believe it. It was  bright sunny day out at that point and the waves were crashing like there was a huge storm. It was impressive. The mountains could be seen at the end of the beach on either side and mist was everywhere from the intense crashing of the waves. I'm not going to lie I had to run from the water a couple of times even though I thought I was no where near it. It was great to watch and that beach had some fantastic driftwood and rocks. 


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