I was in the basement the other evening, carving passionately at my experimental piece of slate. I was going to a party later, and had planned to change my clothes and wash my hair and make myself presentable. But I really got into the carving, the \”ping\” of mallet on chisel, the rhythm of the hand, the slowly emerging features. By the time I took off my mask and gloves and smock (really just an old shirt of my husband\’s), I knew that all I had time for was to wash my face and change my clothes.
The hair…would have to take care of itself. I would brush off the dust and put on a smile and–well, this being Vermont, I probably had nothing to worry about. Brush in hand, I bent over the bathroom sink and brushed upwards from the nape of my neck. Then I straightened up and looked in the mirror, and lo! my hair looked fabulous, if I say so myself.
And then I remembered the one beauty benefit of carving stone. While it will gnarl your hands and stiffen your sinews and damage you lungs, stone carving will make your hair look great. Just look at the portraits of the great sculptors: Michelangelo and Bernini both had nice full heads of hair, doubtless thanks to all that Carrara dust, and so did Brancusi.
I once read that if you don\’t have time to wash your hair you should sprinkle talcum powder over it, rub it in and then brush it out, and your hair will regain its bounce and shine. Talcum powder, of course, is nothing but very fine stone (soapstone, to be precise) dust.
So I went off to my party feeling all smug and put together, except for the disconcerting smell of slate dust that stayed with me the entire evening.