This past Friday, I had received a shipment of an extraordinarily expensive and rare stone from Rome to use in an art project. It was the legendary 'imperial porphyry' from ancient Egypt. Until locating this sample I was considering using a substitute stone from Trentino Italy, but that one was less brilliant red / purple and the white specks (phenocrysts) were less perfectly white. Since all of my other 'ingredients' were the authentic originals, using the lesser stone seemed like a compromise that shouldn't be made.
In order to make the work look authentic as the 1700 year old original pictured above, I tried to talk myself into breaking the center circle and putting it back together again. But, I kept thinking about the rarity of the stone and how I would be smashing (temporarily) something that costs so much. It was like when you are about to jump off a high-dive platform for the first time and the voice in your head is talking you out of it.
Yesterday afternoon, I carefully drew off the perfect 7" (17cm) circle, I set up my diamond saw outside with a 0.25mm (tiny) blade to avoid material loss of such a precious material. I worked intently, keeping my fingers out of harm's way (the blade is tiny and somewhat flexible since it is so thin).
The wind in Texas has gusted very strongly for the past few days. But despite the wind, about midway through one of the cuts to shape the expensive stone, a yellow jacket wasp bumped up against my leg. I tried to shoo it away with my foot, but it was not having any of that. It kept aggressively buzzing around.
It flew at my face on a final attack dive bombing run, and I had to concentrate on not losing fingers while this happened. Jumping back, but with hands away from the blade, the stone flew off the saw table and landed on the cement where it broke into three pieces. Satisfied with the mayhem it had created, the wasp flew off happily.
I pieced back together the rare stone pieces and finished shaping the perfect center circle. Sometimes, things work out just fine, don't you know?
The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger
12 hours ago