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How Do I Know When I'm Done?

This is a common question I get when asked of my process so I thought it would be fun to share with you.


Since I direct carve, I have complete freedom as to how and where the piece is going to go and even change it at the last minute. I have come to love the thrill of working this way. Or at least always having an open perspective. But the knowing of “doneness” comes from an objective-as-I-can-possibly-be place telling me nothing more is needed. I strive for very little “good” or “bad” in my thinking and focus on “does this flow?’ And is this piece saying what I want it to say?


At this stage, I’ve examined my sculptures near, almost at microscopic level, and from a distance to access it’s overall quality. I sit with them for a while or go away for a day or two until I’m absolutely sure that there is nothing left for me to do. So for me, probably the most important factor to determining doneness is time.


With my work for Creative Pinellas I planned to finish carving by mid-July in order spend the rest of my time on sanding and detail work. Determining the doneness of sanding it’s a bit more difficult since I adore a really smooth surface and so does the marble. It seems to come to life once I’ve removed the scratches and can see the richness and sparkle of the stone. So here, I can just keep sanding and sanding. We have a joke in the studio that we tell each other when we see this process getting out of hand. We say either put down that sandpaper of we’re dragging you off to the therapist. So it’s important and very satisfying to finally say “Yes, I’m done”.

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© 2019 by Christina Bertsos

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