Trowel Tortoise was finished on New Year’s Eve so I was working right up until the end of the year. I never really know how I am going to start a piece but with the tortoise I knew that I would have to solve the shell first before working on any other aspect. This is unusual because I would tend to start a piece with the head as this dictates the proportions of the whole creature. For the tortoise with such a defining and unbending feature as the shell it was very important that I got that right before embarking on anything else.
When you really start looking at the subject you realise all kinds of subtleties in shape and the tortoise was no exception. The shell is more of a dome than most people would think and the underside proved as important as the top. The main structure was created from two shield shaped hinges and a few blades from agricultural harvesters. The oval lip on which the whole piece is built is made of two horseshoes with upholstery springs interlocked around it.
At one stage the shell was much more open and this worked up to point. Much as I enjoy leaving negative spaces within the pieces the shell needed more visual heaviness to work with the solid legs. The lovely scaley texture on the legs is chainsaw blades and of course his plastron is a trowel. I worked very hard to get the pointed lip and almond shaped eyes on the surprisingly square head. He took longer than I expected but I was very pleased with the result.