The Right Log for Jeremiah
by sculptor Dean Egge
presented to Beeghly Library by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Neff, March 13, 1998
Before I can begin to create a sculpture that will represent either a character or an idea, real or imagined, I have to talk with the person who commissions or who will receive the piece, much as a furniture designer, an architect, or a dressmaker would.
Because Bob Neff has probably lived as closely with the prophet Jeremiah as anyone in our denomination - or in modern Christendom, for that matter - it was very important for me to understand his vision of the prophet whose sculpture I was to make for him. Here are some of the ideas I received from him about Jeremiah: a five-foot man, battered, standing with the common man, abused, one who walked a lot and used a staff, larger, rough features, stooped, strong earthy hands, dressed in a loin cloth, stocky with strength in his legs, barefoot, one who lived in the seventh century B.C.
The search then began for the right log. Absolutely essential was the need for a fork in order to carve an arm with staff. I looked for wood that might depict some of the abuse that Jeremian suffered. The first log I opened and worked on for several weeks had to be abandoned because of a large crack that overpowered the design. It is not unusual to have to begin again....
I early decided that his great head, especially his facial features and his strong arm would be the central emphasis and my leading lines and use of texture, rough, medium and smooth, would attempt to draw the viewer's eye first to these parts of the sculpture.
The original cherry tree I chose grew on Camp Bethel property, died on the stump, and I managed to get it after it had fallen over, partially decayed. I took hundreds of buck shot out of the piece as I worked and a few traces can be pointed out in the sculpture.
I was reminded of the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" heaped on Jeremiah, and the wood, therefore seemed very appropriate to the work.
To open a log I use saws and gouges, and refine my work by rasping and sanding. The edges of cracks are carefully sanded. Deep cracks are filled and stained darker than the color of the wood. The final process is the application of two coats of natural minwax oil.
Prophet Jeremiah can be found in the center of the Klaus and Ellin Jaeger Information Commons on the first floor of the library.
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