Knick Knack Attack by Eucalyptus Ike
When knick knack madness strikes, there is no way of
it.  Here for all the world to see (naturally we recognize
items from the factory floor. We start with Ike's
Mother's Day gift to C (at left).  Slim bamboo rods
support the six heads seen.  Carved out of cross cuts of
Acacia tree limb, these mesmerizing miniatures capture
the essence of the holiday point of view from the male
perspective, wouldn't you agree? [Just kidding...you
know me...] Next, of course, we move tactfully into
Father's Day,  filled as it is with the promise of public
accusation wherein all of Dad's collective bad habits are
itemized and evaluated once again. Ike's gift (to himself)
exposes his usual ambivalence, bafflement, abject
confusion, simple mindedness and downright
antagonism to the general experience.  [Note:  Mom's
gift is displayed on the kitchen table near a bowl of fruit
(not shown) while dad's is parked up against the garage
door on a simple stool.  The temperature in the garage
on the day Ike took the pictures was about 90 degrees.  
The kitchen by contrast was still fairly cool.  The reader
may draw his or her own conclusions as to the
significance of these details.  Ike has no opinion one
way or the other.]   
Carvings here are essentially in relief, a projection of a figure or form on a flat
surface.  In other words,  one attempts the least amount of wood removal
consistent with the desired effect. It should also be said that these are doodle
carvings (fooling around in order to see what happens), left unsanded, and without
stain or finish applied. Note the bark left on the figures.  Ike's garden is the source
of inspiration for many of his knick knacks.  Bean Pole Woman (to the left and
right here) is a prime example.  Pole beans are directed up a trellis with a carving
capped on top.  As they grow, the bean vines wind themselves around the
structure, creating a variety of effects over the course of the growing season.  The
garden then evolves each day over the summer, as sun light and shadow add their
effects to the milieu.
Oddballs, sour pusses and other
peculiar critters abound in Ike's
garden, as these doodle figures will
attest.  Variety, they say, is the spice
of life, and Ike is not one to disagree.  
Here, six foot long bamboo poles
provide the support for a range of
Bamboobies and Pole-ites who
provide visual stimulation to the
casual visitor or family member out to
pick beans, berries, tomatoes,
zucchini, cucumber, onion, and more
cucumber... Lately, Ike has added
garlic, potato, bell pepper and chilies
to the mixed up mess.
The photo above displays fifteen Pole-ites (see, it's a joke because they're on poles, they look like mites or termites, and they're polite because they don't talk
back...).  This is typical of the quality of controlled madness one is likely to encounter in Ike's garden, because Ike is a fruitcake who will go to almost any
extreme to amuse himself.  Controlled folly is not for everyone, that's for sure; but it is what Ike is really good at whenever he can get it up for a little down time
in the garage.  Consider that it takes Ike about 4-5 hours to make one of these useless carvings (he's slow because he's old and worn out and he has to take a pee
about every 40 minutes); now, there are fifteen Pole-ites in this group (don't count the kapu pole with the strainer on top) so 15 times say an average of 4 hours
each and you get 60 hours worth of wasted effort, not counting the expense of the bamboo poles you can get at Home Depot, if you get there before Ike has
picked out all the good ones already. Unfortunately, this photo is a little fuzzy so Ike had me arrange duplicate images at the top of this page in the order they
occur here if anyone wants to see somewhat finer details.  Naturally, Ike can't work for a straight 60 hours, so each carving represents about a day's work, or
just over two weeks of effort to produce this bean squat... what else is new?
In the winter when the garden goes away because some plants lose all their leaves or
otherwise look like hell because the weather is cold and they don't like the cold or their
roots have rotted and the leaves and vines have shrivelled up and the plant has just
plain died on you for one lousy reason or another (like you forgot to water) you need
to do something with all the crummy carvings now sticking up out of the ground on
bamboo poles like gravestones for all your pole bean plants.  Well, Ike has the solution
for that--naturally--'cause Ike didn't just get off the pickle boat yesterday [that was
about 20-30 years back].  So, what you do next is decorate the garage with the old
Pole-ites by mounting them in strange new locations, arrangements and combinations.  
There, what was once just a crummy wood pile with no redeeming amusement value
is now granted its own special significance, because this woodpile can see that the
future doesn't just lead inexorably to a smoky disintegration in the fireplace...no...there
is now the distinct possibility that life might go on with 'my woodie critical mass'
transformed into a pole-ite,  and I will spend eternity in pole-ite heaven mounted on a
bamboo pole and performing a useful function--holding up Ike's pole beans in the
summer and serving to amuse his woodpile in the dreary months of winter.  How
utterly clever of Ike to have spared my worthless molecules the flaming fate to which
I was sure to ignite...
Bamboobies (heads the size of a good sized boob or a Marsh seedless grapefruit)
remain one of Ike's favorite attractions for knick knack madness.  These are
produced out of medium hard wood from a limb off a tree cut down somewhere in
the neighborhood.  They are like the neighbors so to speak, if you get my drift.  Ike
considers these guys seriously for service inside the house, so they have to be
produced with a little extra effort, like about two days worth.  Mounted in a carved
base on thin '
very flexible' bamboo strips, these figures must meet the strict
approval of the kitchen staff themselves, a critical bunch of really ornery onion
eaters who don't take a fancy to just any ol' pole-ite.  No, these pallid panty critics
require art rising at least to the lowest level of sculpture or else...your calorie count
could take a serious turn south and you will find yourself sucking on sour krout until
the tide goes out.  Naturally, when the level of sculpture is desired you gotta have a
name for the piece 'cause all really good art is given a name, you get me? So this
piece of prickly partners poking up out of what looks kinda like a kidney bean on
steroids is titled "Four Mugs and a Bug."  They serve as the kitchen table oracle; you
ask a question and then bang on the table to see if the heads shake "yes" or "no"
Knacks remind Ike of rabbits or rats because they breed like flies (Ike just adores to mix up his metaphors) and pretty soon you
have them lying around everywhere like trebles on The Wreck of Star Trek. Consider these little brown fleas that popped out of
their egg sacks over a ten day period while Ike sustained numerous flea bites during those ninety degree days we just all had to
barely live through.  This wood is something really hard Ike found in the wood pile, a limb about four inches thick as you can
see to the far left.  Curiously, they seem to share some family resemblance as if they were all genetically related.  There is a
mommy, a daddy, a son and a daughter (you get to figure out which is which).  The photos were taken in the garage with each
head resting on the identical piece of plywood, propped up against the garage door.  They were then merged into a single jpg
file using photoshop.  Oddly, this set of carvings serves to illustrate something about carving Ike has maintained for several
years now. Only one carving chisel was used in the production of these four heads ( a 1/2 inch lightly curved gouge). Flatten
just slightly  the parenthesis you see here  )  and you would have a pretty good idea of the bite surface of the tool Ike used.
Now, while it is generally accepted dogma that the tool should be selected to fit the job, it is not so well accepted that the tool
itself can influence the outcome of the work.  Naturally, this assumes that your carving style allows for the flap doodle effect:  
i.e. that you are playing around to see what pops out.  Also know as serendipity [an apparent aptitude for making fortuitous
discoveries accidentally] serendipitous carving seems to be inherently influenced by the nature of the material and the tool or
tools you prefer to use.      
Now you know why knacks are so much fun to make. There are no rules, no
limitations, no arbitrary patterns to follow.  You are free to explore and produce what
ever it is that pleases you.  Is there anyone else more important?  No.  So get out there
in the garage and go for it--whatever it is--as long as it's not illegal or fattening.  
Experiment, take a flier, take a chance, take a break from your respectable routines, go
all the way or go half way, it doesn't matter, because you are in charge, you are the
boss, you are in control, you are numero uno, you are talented, amusing, cute, funny,
delightful, vivacious, you are in fact perfect... what have you got to lose?  OK, well
maybe a finger if you're not careful,  a nick here and there, a little blood, a little sweat,
a few tears (I never promised you a rose garden) but in the end you know you might
get nothing for something but you won't get something for nothing.  That's a universal
rule that can't be broken... even by the likes of Ike...  
Portrait of Ike
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