Hello! I’m Jan Campbell, the creator of Avocado Stone Faces. I live in County Mayo in the West of Ireland. I am happiest when in nature; exploring forests, the bog and beaches. I truly adore carving and feel that it’s a necessary mode of communication for me, one that I’ve only accessed relatively recently. I feel connected with the earlier human inhabitants of the earth when I practice this ancient art form. I taught myself to carve through instinct, intuition and experimentation, and have received no formal training in the art. For this, I am grateful as it allows the process to feel entirely personal to me.
I started my unusual hobby in 2014. I was making my lunch and opened a perfectly ripe avocado as a special treat. It struck me that the stone I found inside the avocado was a particularly beautiful one. I had never really paid special attention to any avocado stone before. It dawned on me that I was holding a substantial object in my hand, one with a lot of potential. It felt like a shame to just throw it into the compost. After deliberating over it for a few minutes, I wiped the stone clean and put it into the pocket of my raincoat.
A few days later I cycled into the countryside in light rain. When I sat down for a rest, my hands went to my pockets and I found the avocado stone sitting inside. I held it in my palm and studied it very closely. I felt a funny connection to it as my fingers explored the tree-shaped network of veins on the surface. I wondered what I could do with it, and impulsively settled on the decision that I would keep it forever, like a secret pet who reassures me from my pocket.
The avocado stone accompanied me for a week or two until I took it out one day and saw that the surface had been scratched, perhaps by my keys. I was intrigued by what I saw – a deep orange pigment had filled the scratch. I felt overwhelmingly compelled to explore further. Maybe my reassuring pocket pet was actually inside the stone, waiting patiently for me to dig him out. I gathered a random assortment of craft tools and set to work, carving the surface very slowly and carefully, studying the effect of every action I took on the stone. I couldn’t believe how satisfying an activity it was – how had I never discovered this enjoyment before? I had drawn pictures my whole life, but carving was like drawing in 3D – I had a whole extra dimension to play with! I found a gentle smiling face inside the stone. I was hooked and I went straight to the supermarket to buy more avocados. The few days while I waited for the avocados to ripen really tested my patience! My fingers were itching to find more characters inside the stones. In those early carving days, I decided to make an Instagram account devoted entirely to my new hobby, where I could essentially keep a photo diary of my carving progress. I called my account the first name that came to mind: Avocado Stone Faces.
Scroll down to see some of my works. You can see more on my Instagram account.
Jan Campbell creates her small carved sculptures out of an unconventional material: avocado stone.
The surface of the avocado pit has a brilliant orange hue and is soft enough to carve. Once dry, it hardens like wood.