I recently completed this painting of an artifact, done with gouache paint on hot press watercolor paper:

damstra birdstone

Birdstone illustration © Emily S. Damstra

The birdstone was found in a farmer’s field in Southern Ontario during an archaeological survey earlier this year. It is an incredible sculpture, painstakingly carved from brown and black banded slate long before the existence of power tools (circa 900-700 BC). You can see that the sculptor used the contours of the banding to emphasize the features of the bird in a remarkable way. Notice how the eye bulges right where the bands form a circle, and how the edges of the bird closely follow the edges of the bands. (The opposite side of the birdstone is equally amazing). Drilled into the bottom of the bird are two places where one could thread a cord to attach the bird to something; you can see one of the holes at the front of the birdstone, right next to the copyright watermark. I can’t help but wonder about who carved it and how he or she used this beautiful stone sculpture.


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