What I Did Last Weekend

Make sure burners are off...

Just thought you might like to see another carving, and yet another glimpse into the high-tech operation that is the Endangered Alphabets.

This sign is a present for the poet John Balaban, renowned for his translations of Vietnamese poetry. He is also one of the founders of the Vietnamese Nom Preservation Foundation, “founded in 1999 as a public charity devoted to preserving 1000 years of writing in Chữ Nôm, the Chinese-like script that Vietnamese used to record their own language and its vast heritage of poetry, history, medicine, and religion. Today, that entire literary culture is about to go extinct. Out of 80 million Vietnamese, less than 100 scholars worldwide can read Chữ Nôm.”

That’s from the Foundation’s website, and the text on my carving is the Foundation’s name written in Chu-Nom, also called simply Nom. I’ve just put the first coat of polyurethane on it, and my kitchen gas stove’s extractor fan is the closest thing I’ve got to what the guitar-makers call a spray booth–that is, an enclosed, ventilated space where you can apply semi-toxic finishes without driving your family from the home.

The wood, by the way, is the sumptuous tigerwood from Central and South America, also known as Bossona, Bototo, Coubaril, Gateado, Gomavel, Goncalo alves, Guarabu, Gusanero, Jejuira, Kingwood, Locustwood, Muira, Muiraquatiara, Mura, Urunday, or Zorrowood. Wonderful stuff.

To learn more about the Foundation, visit http://www.nomfoundation.org/.