keiko kasai

The process of sculpting and polishing stone reminds me of watering a garden, and the ceremony of wetting the lips of the dead. Water purifies and symbolizes rebirth. There is an old belief in the spirit of water — the nymph.

The stone has existed for more than three billion years on Earth, through periods of tremendously high pressure and heat. All granite must come through this hard birth process, resulting in the hardest and heaviest character in nature. Every piece of stone is a document of its long, hard history as part of the Earth. But stone existence gives us quiet and peaceful thoughts.

Long ago, man poured water into stone crevices, which froze and cracked massive boulders. Waves break and polish stone, and create forms. Rain falls for ages and polishes stone to perfection. The stone which has existed for millenia is changed naturally by the action of water.
In the morning, I pour water on the stone. It wakes and begins to breathe. I can sense the passing of time that is alive in the stone. In the sunshine, the stone becomes warm and keeps the heat long into the night.

Every stone has identity — mass and grain. If I go against this nature, my ideas will fail. First, I choose the stone, and then the image follows. I cut the stone with diamond saws and break it with hammers and chisels. A diamond grinding wheel produces a rough, flat surface. Water is used for polishing the stone, like nature does with waves and rain. The final seven stages of hand polishing with water finally give a shining surface, like wet stone. Through this polishing process, the stone becomes smooth. After the stone dries, I may find scratches or imperfections. I continue polishing until the dry stone looks wet.

I leave rough areas on some of the stones to show nature’s work. I polish the stone to seal the skin, and to clarify and identify the shape. When I follow the nature of the stone, it expresses itself with unpredictable results. The final work is a quiet revelation, which makes me appreciate the nature of stone.

Stone speaks quietly of time, of the world passing away and changing. Stone was here before my birth, and will be here long after I am gone.