Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, May 1, 2009

Guest Blogger: Shereen Vedam on Sculpting with English Alabaster

When I came up with the concept of writing a regency short story, I had no interest in alabaster or knowledge on the subject of sculpting. Such minor technicalities, however, never stops a writer from plunging into the unknown, for that’s where our true adventures lie.

For a short story, unlike a novel, one likes a minimum of complications. Unfortunately, my characters don’t care for limitations. So my heroine, Pauline, came to life already carrying heavy expectations for herself, her family and her society. She was a young lady who had turned to her art because she’d lost faith in love.

Her hero arrived next, a man grieving for the loss of his beloved brother in the

Peninsular War and claiming that his nickname was ‘Stone.’ And the medium for Pauline’s work was conceived.

With the artist being a woman, I searched for a medium that would be less strenuous to sculpt than marble or limestone. So, in To Capture Love, Pauline works with Alabaster because research suggested that was one of the softest stones to carve.

English alabaster is easy to shape because it is composed of gypsum. Due to its softness, threat of vandalism discourages use of this type of stone for outdoor statuary, but Pauline’s commission was to be displayed in the British Museum on Montague Street in London.

Since Alabaster has a beautiful translucent quality, it was perfect for her requirements. Mined locally, this stone could be found in midland quarries, from Derbyshire to Staffordshire, and came in shades that ranged from honey orange, greens, creamy whites, gold to raspberry.

Now that she had her medium, the only thing Pauline lacked was inspiration. And Stone, our grieving hero, a man whom she once loved in her quiet reclusive way, becomes her perfect muse. When he lets his jealousy of her many admirers frustrate him enough to try to catch her attention, he opens her eyes to the true reality of war – from the heroism of the young brash soldiers who played and fought in it, to the devastation wrecked on the Spanish countryside and local populace as a result of that conflict between nations.

Finally, with enough information to craft her work, Pauline retreats to passionately carve her alabaster sculpture. She captures the essence of a terrible war and the resultant loss in lives. The effect her creation has on its English audience is as shocking as its effect on her client, Matthew ‘Stone’ Livingston, the Earl of Ashford.

Shereen Vedam writes regency and fantasy romances. She has several short stories published through The Wild Rose Press. Her website is at: www.shereenvedam.com


Nancy M said...

Fantastic , Shereen. makes me want to read the book and discover more about alabaster.

Nita Wick said...

Great post. Don't you just love learning stuff like that when you're researching for a book?

And the story sounds wonderful, btw.

Pat McDermott said...

One never knows where the research will lead. Sounds like you've done a marvelous job weaving that knowledge into a fascinating story, Shereen! Good luck with your writing!

Mary Ricksen said...

I so agree I love to learn new cool stuff. I have always loved alabaster. I have a chess set made of it.

Deb Marlowe said...

So interesting, Shereen! Research takes us to so many fascinating places, doesn't it?

Congrats on your story!

Delle Jacobs said...

What a wonderful story, Shereen! The research is so beautifully interwoven!

Shereen Vedam said...

Nancy, that's what I found when I first read about alabaster, wanting to discover more.

Nita/Deb, abosultey, for me learning new stuff is the best part of being a writer.

Thanks for the compliment Pat.

Oh Mary! I totally envy your alabaster chess set. I love chess. Now I'm going to go on the hunt for one of those!

Hi Delle (((waves wildly))), nice to talk to you again.

Glad you guys enjoyed the article.


Eliza Knight said...

Thank you for blogging with History Undressed Shereen!!! The readers really enjoyed it!

Caffey said...

Hi Shereen! I've had the joy to read your book DAUGHTER OF THE SORCERER KING! I've been finding so much that I've enjoyed at WRP and discovered this book and now have a list of your others I'd like to get and read. I learn alot from my reading! Legends and myths, historical and society of different time periods and settings. I remember once finding a word and they explaining it being their transported so I wanted to look up what it looked like and I was lost learning about so much! So I enjoyed learning this too about artists! This was great!

Shereen Vedam said...

Hi Caffey,

Nice to talk to you again.

And I totally agree, learning is a huge part of what love about books too!


Caffey said...

Shereen, I just got a couple of your books and now I'm looking forward to more of yours! Thanks for the fab history!