This was my first really large carving, which I carved with the intention of entering into the Artprize contest, held yearly in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had displayed my Gargoyle there the year before and felt I should try it again with an even more impressive entry. Carved from a large maple tree, it took five and a half months to complete, six months alone carving the approximately 2000 scales on her tail. It stands seven feet four inches tall and I estimate to weigh over 400 pounds, which I will soon ascertain as I now own a scale capable of weighing it. The picture to the right shows the completed piece on display in Grand Rapids, and the pile of wood removed from the carving. The wood for this one turned out to be very beautiful, having a lot of spalting inside, as well as areas of internal bark. The progress pictures also show two versions of her tail. The first I felt was too short and stubby looking so I chiseled it off and made it longer by wrapping it around the base. There was no definite plan at the beginning as to how it would look when complete. I really just figured it out as I progressed, using the shape of the tree to determine how the mermaid and dolphin could be positioned, and to this day I still carve this way. A rough idea is in my mind, but the specifics are worked out as the piece progresses. I’ve heard most carvers will actually make a scale model first to work everything out, then copy from that on the actual carving. I attempted to do a clay model for one piece before starting the carving, and when I began to carve, I never looked at the model again. The enjoyment to me is having the piece emerge from the tree as it needs to, not to try to strictly duplicate a model. While I see the value of working things out in advance, it take some of the fun out of the process. Luckily so far it’s worked out for me.