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Bone carving is as old as civilisation itself. Even some of the oldest bone artifacts have decorative features that are clearly not necessary for their functional nature, showing that there have been complex cultural aspects to the carving of bone since earliest times. The first settlers of Aotearoa brought with them the skills of bone carving, both for items of personal adornment and for the manufacture of tools such as fish-hooks. These skills have been passed on, incorporating various cultural adaptations, to the present day. In Bone Carving, Stephen Myhre has drawn with great sensitivity on techniques and styles of carving from a wide range of Pacific cultures, but particularly Maori. The result is a superb practical handbook for anyone embarking upon this rapidly growing craft. The book provides what the author calls a 'skillbase' - a reliable set of practices and attitudes that can successfully produce bone carvings of great functional and aesthetic beauty. Bone Carving describes and illustrates the materials, tools and techniques, explaining every stage from roughing out to final polishing and mounting, in a clear, strongly personalised style. The author stresses throughout the importance of good design and the development of patience as parts of the skillbase - and the need for integrity. The carver, he says, should respect the old traditions and be sensitive to the cultural significance of the forms being used. Bone Carving is thus both a practical and a spiritual guide.
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