Runestone update

Apparently good web sites are updated with “content” occasionally. Below is what my rune stone looked like before I started carving this season.

It might seem like I did very little progress last summer, but that’s because I noticed the outer layer was withered. Once I started getting down a bit into the rock, especially on the very top, I was unable to make any shapes before the outer layer just scaled off. So, I started over from the first rune and carved down to the full intended depth instead of, as planned, just blocking it out and deepening it later. I also “dot” or prick the runes, turning I into E, B into P and so on, as well as put the spaces in between words in (I’ve chosen the double dot space).

This means each rune takes 30-120 minutes depending on complexity and the local hardness of the granite, but it also means the rune stone is finished from the head-neck joint to the rune I’m working on. Since the photo was taken I’ve gotten a bit further, and I calculate the necessary stone carving is about 3/5 finished. I may add some additional detail after that, and then I plan on painting the creature, but leaving the background bare.

Maybe it will be finished next autumn?

The rune stone 2015-03-11


Being bored the summer before last, I decided learning runes would be a pleasant way to waste my time. I had already dabbled a bit in stone carving, so I decided I’d carve a runestone of my own. Finding a good rock took a long while, in the end I decided to use one in the garden. It’s not perfect, but good enough.

I started by marking the basic shape in charcoal, then making it more permanent by way of chiselling. This was quite easy and only took a few hours. Since then, I have been deepening the groves all the way around so they will still be visible a hundred years from now.  This is the bit that takes time, and it’s not until this summer I’ve finished (though truth be told, I didn’t work very hard last summer).

Deciding exactly what to write has taken quite a long time, and although I had the basic concept ready in my head over a year ago, the exact words and their order required quite a bit of planning. After all, once they are carved it will be hard to change them, and as I want the stone to look good there should be no empty spaces and the entire text should fit within the lindworm – I’d rather not have to do as some of the ancient rune carvers had to, adding an extra tail or just putting the overflowing runes outside the lindworm. I’m fairly sure of the text now, which is a good thing seeing as I chiselled the first rune on the 19th July!

First rune carved

Since then, I’ve chiselled in a couple of runes every day, marking them in charcoal first, and then comes the process of deepening the grooves… With any luck, I wont have it crack in the wrong place too many times. Progress so far:

Progress, 24th July

I’m using a modified version of the FuÞork (medieval runes) updated slightly to fit modern Swedish. Anyone who can read the unmodified Futhork should have no trouble reading what’s written with my version of it. The main features are:

  • Using the Þ-rune for D-sounds in addition to Th and Dh, seeing as the latter two are very rarely used in modern Swedish. It’s a pretty rune and it was already used for Dh in the younger FuÞark, so using it for D is not much of a stretch.
  • Using a dotted F-rune for V rather than a U-rune because the sound is closer to F than U (additionally, it looks awesome!). This is not new, but uncommon.
  • Use of bindrunes (combined runes) to simulate the Å and Ö sounds. My Å is made up of AU and the Ö is made from EU – far from perfect, but close enough. As far as my AU-bindrune goes, this is not far from how it was originally; the ancient word for ‘and’ is frequently used on runestones and spelled AUK (although to my knowledge not bound together). I spell it the same way on my runestone, because the modern Swedish word for ‘and’ is och (pronounced ÅKK). It saves quite a bit of room, for ‘and’ is as common now as it was then.
  • The eR-rune-rune is used for words ending with ER in place of both runes. Again, it’s a nice-looking rune and that way I can use it occasionally. It does not save much room, however.


Duck Hunt Dog

Every spring, the smallest of Koholmarna (cow [grazing] islets) in Kalmar  is besieged by over a hundred birds. They are mainly black-headed gulls, but there are also mallards, sea gulls, great-crested grebes, tufted ducks and the occasional swan. Needless to say, there’s no way anyone goes there if they can avoid it. In the winter, ice sometimes grows thick enough to walk over to this little islet. Wouldn’t it be great to put something there just before the ice gets too thin to cross, or at least just before the birds arrive? It would be nearly impossible to remove it, even if the town council would want to.

After discarding a few moderately amusing ideas, I came up with a great one; the hound from Duck Hunt! Not only is it a funny thing and rather unexpected, but having birds nesting and flying all around it gives it an extra dimension. I’m almost sure the idea was influenced by visits to the (then) rather new site, Spritestitch, and of course the old street art piece where Mario is jumping out of a tube.

The material was a discarded plywood and a few boards that had been sitting for 20 years in the “might-be-useful-one-day”-storage of my workplace, Kalmar County Museum, and left over paint found at home. The green paint was procured from a school supply closet and the orange paint was bought in a test can (40 SEK, about 4 euros).

Winter and spring was spent occasionally working on the project, first measuring the plywood, then drawing the pattern (first a 3×3 cm grid, then marking the colours), sawing the shape and putting the pieces together. After some trouble with the masking tape, I started painting in late June. By the 8th July 2010 it was done, and ready to be placed on the islet.

I weighed the dog, calculated how much air would be required to achieve flotation for it and some tools and taped the appropriate number of empty 2 litre Coca Cola bottles to the back side. The idea was to use it as a raft on the way there, swimming behind it – I don’t remember the plan for getting the tools back to shore again, if there was one. Anyhow, me and brother strapped the roof our mother’s car and off we went.

The planned launch site for H.M.S. Dog turned out to be rather crowded with sun bathers, and the islet itself (point A) was still slightly bird-infested. I decided to switch to a the larger one of Koholmarna, which is bird-free and wading distance from shore. The bottles were taken off, and down to the water we went.

I waded across with the dog, and then again with the tools, and carried it all through the high reed and short pines on the islet. My brother stayed shore-side to photograph and help direct the placement. The position I chose (point B) had a lot of nice, green grass and some short, green young reed, in spite of the extended heatwave. The dog was dug in facing one of the main roads leading into Kalmar’s town centre and fixed into the ground using a board and a length of rebar to withstand the somewhat strong winds. The process took just under an hour (damn rocks!).

Surprisingly few people seemed to notice me working on the island, and those who did pretended not to – not that I blame them. For a week, nothing particular happened, until a man by the name of Petter Feltenstedt called the local media (Barometern and Östran newspapers, P4 Kalmar radio station). The response in the paper’s website comment fields, which were still open to unregistered users back then, was large by local standards, and completely positive. It even spread to Kotaku via hObbe’s blog.

I had told people I knew that I was behind the dog and not really tried to keep it a secret, though making it clear I was not interested in getting mass-medial attention. Still, by the 24th July the largest of the local papers had found out I was behind it and I agreed to give an interview, sporting a serial killer look in the photo they chose. By the 20th August I returned to the islet with my brother, and we removed the dog. By then the local chavs had renamed it ÅKE and drawn a swastika, regretted it and changed it into four squares; the fine line between street art and plain vandalism made perfectly clear for once.

Materials: Plywood (re-used, free), supporting boards (re-used, free), nails (re-used, free), supporting length of rebar (procured from the remnants of the failed Chinese Fanerdun project, free), orange paint (test can, 4 euros) and other paints (left-overs and donated, free). Total cost: 4 euros – worth every cent.

Just finished painting, ready to be set up Just after placing, as seen from the shore a bit to the side The fine line between street art and simple vandalism illustrated

I Fucking Love Winter

The Art category is a stretch, I’ll admit it.

PS: Final snails of 2009 will follow soon, and then this year’s starting in January.

Old Friends (Bookends)

I’ve recently entered a phase of drawing with pastel crayons. I think it’s just as well I put the results here, or they’ll never be seen by anyone. This one is based on the song Old Friends by Simon & Garfunkel. Their music is another thing I’ve indulged in lately, and I just can’t get enough of their thought-through lyrics set to wonderfully arranged music. The album Old Friends was on, Bookends, is one of my favourites, or rather one of few albums I can say I like as a whole.

Medium: Pastel crayons on paper. The framing is done in Photoshop, just to try out what kind of frame I should be looking for (or make). I think it will do.