Carving Crafts by Eucalyptus Ike
Eucalyptus Gallery
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Early Ike
The carving above may be the first in Eucalyptus wood that
Ike ever completed.  It hung for several years on a back yard
fence and was soon inhabited by bumble bees as a nesting
site.  The large black bumble bee is a powerful carver capable
of drilling holes into the very hardest of woods, in order to lay
its eggs (or whatever it does to reproduce).  If you look
carefully at the left nostril in the carving, you will see where
Ike plugged up a bee's tunnel with a large carriage bolt.  
Actually the bolt was jammed up the hole after the bumble bee
had entered its nest.  Two laughing rubber apes can be seen
suspended above the carving for effect (although what the
effect is I couldn't guess) and the seagull feathers were, of
course, also an added after thought.  As you can see, Ike has
a kind of playful attitude toward his work, and this quality is
apparent in many of his carvings.
Midnight in the Land of Tongue
"Midnight in the Land of Tongue" is a stacked stump carving (see the home page introduction ) that weighs about 125
pounds.  It is interesting to note that the nose on the face once extended down much further but Ike cut it off when he
discovered the band of red grain which now clearly represents a red tongue.  As a result, the carving has a picaresque or
roguish quality that was stumbled upon almost entirely due to that modification. Ike insisted that this detail be included in
the narrative here to illustrate how serendipity sometimes plays a role in the carving process.  Fortunately, everybody who
knows him already knows that if Ike cut the nose off his face he would probably crack a joke about it.
The "Life History of Master Po" in Eucalyptus (seen below) is an example Ike calls
'360 degree carving'.  Rather than just carving in three dimensions, 360 degree carving
attempts to tell a story in the round. Thus the entire surface of the wood is employed in
one way or another to develop a theme, present a message, or record an event.  In picture
with crossed bones is used, for example, to signify 'danger' or 'death' on a container of
poison. The story of Master Po is told in similar picture like fashion, and is the tale of Po's
lamentations, the journey of his spirit through many years with many wives, unto the point
when he realises he has become truly a Po Master (see left photo).  Po has been a son,
brother, father, teacher,  poet, writer, lover, pirate, and warrior.  He has seen both
kindness and ruthlessness, and been both gentle and vindictive. He has known anger,
ignorance,laziness, spinelessness, depravity, drunkenness, and lechery.  Nevertheless, The
"Life History of Master Po" in Eucalyptus (see below) is an example of what Ike calls
somehow through it all, he has managed to find his way and to leave this record of his
tortuous journey. Po's tale is thus the tale of every man and every wo-man across the
generations....a genuine morality tale, as ridiculous and absurd as any concoction of
opposites, the very hock, spit and goober of reality reduced to pictoglyphic representation.  
And only O'Wo himself could ever have imagined Po's tale could be told with such brevity
and depth of imagination.
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The Venerable Master Po
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Front, Left Panel
Front, Right Panel
trapped always between two monkeys: Monkey See and Monkey Do, and furthermore,
there were two monkeys inside him: a good monkey and a bad monkey, each exerting
completely guilty of anything really. He had, however, allowed himself to be influenced
by all the other monkeys.  This set of ideations is expressed in the panel above. The
small face is Po's seen crowded by the two larger apelike or monkey figures to his left
and right.  Over Po's head you can see four additional monkey figures who are exerting
their weight upon his head.  (Note the expression of Woe on Po's face.) That this panel
is meant to be "read " as a sequence requires reading the previous panel (the one to the
left).  In the photo of the left front panel above, you can see Po standing, his head in the
hood of his robe, with his left arm draped and extended upward and four faces set one
atop the other beside that arm. (A few iconographers still prefer to see the arm as Po's
fan). The point, however, is that the arm (or the fan) is segmented, indicating a
sequence, and Po is using it to point in the direction of the reading (i.e. from left to
right).  The four faces are magnified in the photo to the right.  Notice that the lowest
face is the crudest, the eyes are closed and the mouth is enlarged: this is a person who
sees nothing and who consumes everything (e.g. a glutton, lecher or hedonist). In the
next face, the eyes are open slightly and the mouth is smaller. In the third face the
mouth is small, the eyes are closed, but the expression seems reflective, almost inward
looking.  The final face (on top) is ringed with a sun symbol  (light) and is therefore
transcendental. Thus Po is pointing to a record of his enlightenment. To the right of this
panel is a blank segment or strip, indicating the transition to the next panel.
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Enlightenment Sequence
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Backside Panel:  The story of Po’s life is represented in stark
detail in the photo to the right.  Again, it is read from left to right
and then up as it is on the front side.  Po apparently began his adult
life as a man of some substance in a village in rural China because
the first head (lower left) is the sign for a headman or master (a
large head with a big nose for poking into everyone’s business).  
Beside Po is the first lady, Lady Po, naturally.  Apparently the
couple was childless, however (note the empty cartouche to the
right), so Po took a second wife or a mistress (seen over his
headman’s head). This female was fertile (she wears a flower
beside her left temple) and a son was born to the couple (the blank
cartouche to the right now has a male’s head over it).  Notice this
head is looking at a panel composed of eyes and circles stacked
upon each other. Apparently, the previously stated circumstances
were repeated frequently (at least three times) over the next five
years (five eyes are stacked just under a longer loop signifying the
passage of a year in time).  Po’s portrait rests beside (to the right)
of the second, fertile female.  As you can see, Po is by now a
gaunt and shriveled middle aged man, wracked with pain and
bearing the sign of an abscessed tooth just below his right nostril.  
Apparently most of the rest of his teeth are also missing with the
exception of one long snag in his upper front jaw.  In his forehead
you can see two additional faces glaring in anger at each other.   If
you look carefully, you will see that these two faces are monkey
like (obviously the good and the bad monkey), but their placement
in the forehead of this figure appears to indicate that Po’s life,
especially his married life, had taken a sour turn for the worse,
perhaps due to a constant, painful bickering going on among his
many mistresses and wives.  (Po, remember, was both a lover and
a lecher.) Notice, however, that Po has only the one son recorded
in the record in spite of the continued passage of time (the circles
indicating yearly cycles in the panel to the left of Po’s portrait). At
this point (looking upward from the two angry monkeys in Po’s
forehead) the text of the story as recorded in the iconographic
symbols becomes more difficult to interpret.
One theory (advanced by Lord J. of  V. N.) contends that Po’s portrait also records the cause of his death.  Hence the
angelic wing over the portrait and to Po's right. In this theory, Po's story is a reincarnation myth, a tale of Po's lives over
the centuries with his many wives (and mistresses). Thus we see a newborn infant just above Po’s portrait in the same
ascending panel, beside the panel indicating chronology to Po’s left.  Furthermore, in the chronology panel, to the infant's
left, is the sign for the birth of a new headman (this time with a big mouth instead of a big nose, for talking over everyone
else)  Notice as well, argues Lord J., that the infant is cradled by the long pigtails or braids that descend from the head of
the celestial figure seen above the infant.  Others have argued that the deep crack leading from the infant to the celestial
figure indicates a significant gap in the record, and perhaps the celestial figure (who seems to be wearing goggles on his
forehead) is Po’s spirit flying across the generations represented by the lacuna (the crack or missing portion) of the
record.  Whatever the case may be, it seems clear that Po’s life was undoubtedly the topic of the backside panel,
although other aspects of the iconography remain to be translated.  There remains also a substantial disagreement about
which side of the carving is indeed the backside.  The large grinning face in the upper left corner of the photo appears to
some to be looking to the left, not the right, indicating the other side is to be read first.  Others prefer to interpret the
grinning figure as a sign that only a fool would be likely to take any of this theory seriously….  
     
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“Simple Calendric Tokens In E. Ike’s Primitive
Art”  
by Lard Jimmy Devine and Van de Lavnic, et. al..
Iconographic history is replete with examples of primitive
man’s endeavors to establish an accurate yearly calendar.  
However,  a brief examination of the token calendric system
employed by E. Ike in his record of the primary events
concerning “The Life History of Master Po” raises serious
questions about the interpretation of events under
examination. Those of you unfamiliar with the corpus of
Ike’s body of work may wish to refrain from further
unpleasantness in that regard.  Nevertheless,  Ike did record
with astonishing brevity the most significant events in Po’s
life.  Ike’s calendrics, however, have almost always
appeared childish to professional observers,  and most
certainly to anyone who has learned to count on his toes
and fingers.  Plate 1 illustrates just how simple Ike’s system
really is.  In the second panel from the right, notice there
are doubled circles on the left (a circle with another circle
inside it, hence with a value of 2), while single circles (set
in rectangles with a value of 1) rise just to the right, next to
them. Now, remembering to read up the page,  multiply the
doubled circles on the left times the singled circles on the
right and you get the passage of time indicated, in years.  
For the first calculation, notice the first five single circles
set one atop the other in an ascending row.  To the left of
these five circles are two double circles, so you multiply 2 x
5 x 2 to get a period of twenty years. It’s that simple.  
Thus, any informed reader is forced to conclude that the
village headman Po was married to Lady Po for close to
twenty years before he took his second wife (or mistress),
the fertile female who gave birth to Po’s only
son.                      
Plate 1
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Plate 2
The next plate, of course, depicts Po with the fertile female to his right and their son (O'Wo) to Po’s left. On this point no
serious disagreement exists.  Notice, however, the two new double circles in the calendric panel, the first located directly
above six iteration ridges and the second above at least two additional ridges.  These ridges, known as chop marks in
topologic lingo, signify the notion of a repeated activity (like notches in the handle of a six gun to represent the number of
men killed in a dual).  We are lead therefore to ask, “Just what is it that has been repeated over the first twenty years and the
additional eight year period?”  Although Ike has consistently refused to concede that any significance whatsoever is
associated with these chops, his demurral remains unconvincing.  One theory, popularized by the Prussian born Van Nuysian
scholar, Helmut Pheffendorfer II, rests on the assumption that the chops are in fact “chock marks” representing the number
of female infants born to Po’s wives, in their mutual effort to propagate a male offspring. Others have suggested Po was
perhaps merely recording a clandestine count of his conquests over his mistresses.  If Professor Pheffendorfer’s theory is
correct, it would appear that Po’s first wife, Lady Po,  gave birth to no less than eight female offspring, while the fertile
female was responsible for at least two.  Thus Po’s household over time would have swollen to a total of ten female siblings,
at least two wives, and an unidentified number of mistresses as well.  If this extrapolation is correct, as Pheffendorfer is
quick to insist, then Po’s portrait may indeed depict an elderly man grappling with an unfortunate state of mind. This
conclusion, coupled with the hypothesis advanced by Lord J. of V.N. that Po's portrait is designed to communicate the cause
of his demise (family stress, an abscessed tooth, and severe gum disease) suggests an incontestable jumping off point for
Lord J's reincarnation argument, about which, I'm sure, we will all be hearing more later...
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Historical Photos of Ike's Garage and Garden Carvings from The Irvine Compound
The Family Lingam and Yoni  (in Flowering White Eucalyptus wood)

The sixteen photos here show the carving from multiple angles in order to illustrate its
range of perspectives. This type of carving is exceedingly tedious to produce because
the original root system for the tree must be carefully cleared of all compacted dirt and
other debris and its ancillary roots removed until only serviceable carving wood
remains. Naturally, to some extent this process is unpredictable, often leaving the
outcome to chance results. Once the root stock is ready for carving (i.e. has dried out)
what remains can then be shaped according to the desired outcome. Because
Eucalyptus leaves yield an essential oil used as an antiseptic and expectorant, as well as
in many medicines and perfumes, carvings in Eucalyptus are considered to have
healing or sacred medicinal significance. That this carving depicts elemental anatomical
detail and images of a sexual or reproductive nature is therefore no mere accident...
The final six photos (below) show the full carving rotated around its vertical axis