Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Man With No Name"

In June of this past summer I closed up my carving bench so we could relocate. I've been dwelling on carving this classic Clint Eastwood character for months. The hiatus gave me plenty of time to work this piece out in my head. I prepped by downloading a few photos from the (so called) Spaghetti Westerns of the '60's. I can remember watching "A Fistful of Dollars" with a friend and we couldn't stop talking about it... until the next one, "For a Few Dollars More" debuted. Of course, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" topped them all off. Eastwood's wardrobe remained the same for all three of those great westerns. With more than a little trepidation, here is my first attempt at woodcarving an actual person in the iconic pose that made Clint Eastwood famous.

The wood is tupelo and is 4"X 4" X 12". The finished carving including the base is 11 1/4" tall.

The image is sketched on the front only.  
 Once the piece is trimmed on the band saw, sketches on the side were made to show me just how deep I can cut from the front or back.
The more I can outline and trim into the piece, the better I can begin to visualize the piece.
So far, all of the above photos kept me on my toes not to cut too much away. But once the "roughing" is complete, patience becomes more important. Although, that's when you can truly notice that all your work is now beginning to look like the image you have in your mind!
I purposely left the hat brim thick to prevent me from breaking it. There's a great deal of handling as you continue to fine tune the piece.
Power carving makes for some rough surfaces that will need extra care.
The piece is "fine-tuned" and ready for sealing prior to the addition of any color.
The base is fitted to the piece.
The ever-present "stogy" in his mouth (actually a tricked out end of a toothpick) is attached.
The piece is sealed with Min-Wax Clear #209 wood stain.
The area under the feet is cut in a shape that I choose and the base is cut out with a router to fit the shape at the bottom of the piece. I prefer to inlay my carvings to the base for longevity. I typically add a screw from the bottom of the base into the piece for more support. The screw hole in the base is countersunk and plugged.
The paint is acrylic.
I hope you enjoy....
"The Man With No Name"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Minnie the Disneyette"

Disney Tour Guides began building a Disney tradition six years after Disneyland opened. An article written by Lloyd Shearer in the Parade Magazine in a section of “The Advocate” newspaper in Baton rouge, LA of March 26, 1961 was short, but featured a nice picture of some of the 1961 Tour Guides and several quotes from so-called “Disneyettes” ( a term that has NEVER been heard since.)


 "Minnie the Disneyette" is actually going to be given to a Disney Tour Guide. This carving worked up easily however, I focused on details that would be more meaningful for the recipient. Here in Disneyworld the Tour Guide costume colors are reversed from the costume of Disneyland. I had some guidance from Kambria who just happens to be the recipients daughter.
I thought I'd make short work of this piece because I wanted to make it smaller than the usual caricatures I carve. I used a piece of basswood for this carving. I've been slowly switching to tupelo wood for my carvings but I had a nice clear piece of basswood that was itchin' to be carved.
I found out once my burr started removing wood why I started carving tupelo. Basswood "fuzzes" up rather than making a clean surface as the wood is trimmed away.
That just meant I had to pay more attention to finish sanding and proper sealing to complete the piece.
"Minnie" is five inches tall without the base and just under three inches wide.

 Her silhouette was trimmed out easily on the band saw.

Now to remove the bulk and begin shaping her features.

 After making a fair amount of dust, she's beginning to take shape.

She required a great deal of finishing with fine burrs. "Minnie" has a bow on her hat and a name tag on her vest. I was making great progress and overlooked carving them as part of the figure. I added them as separate details which I like much better. They actually "stand" off the figure to make them look even better than if I had carved them as part of the figure.
I added a piece of toothpick to the back of the bow and bore out a hole for it in her hat.
The name tag was easier than I thought except I had to fabricate a tiny "peg" on the backside of the tag to glue it to her vest. Below, her bow and name tag are next to her left foot.
I like to inlay the caricatures to their bases. 

Below she is sealed with MinWax 209 natural stain. Normally, the 209 is basically clear but it darkened the basswood quite a bit.
 After painting I realized  I didn't reduce her muzzle and jaw enough. It changes her image drastically. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after she was painted that I noticed her facial appearance. While photographing her I came very close to taking her back to the carving bench for a "face lift!" However, as so many of you know, these pieces can take a lot of hours to carve... sometimes you just go with the way the piece evolves.

After I give "Minnie" to her new owner, we may discuss a possible surgical procedure!


Friday, May 9, 2014

A Carving for the "Carver"

"In the 1950’s my Mother took me to see “Fantasia.”
She went for the classical music, I went for the cartoon.
This carving brings to my mind the parallels of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and my life.”
I've wondered for many months as to just what would I like to carve for myself. One carving that will remain with Pat and I as a "Signature" piece.
Pat has become fond of Disney paintings. She will search for one she likes, while I'm taking photos of the ones I would like to carve! Well, one painting caught my attention months ago. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
We came very close to purchasing  the painting but something inside me was telling me not to purchase it but rather, carve it. This is the one. Part of my choice is due to my other hobby, amateur astronomy.  The artist caught the innocence, playfulness and tenacity of Mickey that drew me to it. I've seen many other "Sorcerer's Apprentices" but this one was different. This is the one I'll carve.
This one is for the "Carver" in all of us!

He started out as a 4"X4"X12" piece of Tupelo wood.
Mickey is to be just a bit larger than most of my carvings.

A little band saw work to shorten the rough out stage.

 Now for some "grunt" work.
 I'm getting a little better leaving enough wood for Mickey's muzzle.
 I have no idea what the back of his robe looks like so I thought I'd add a "hood."

 I like caricatures because they tend to be more "forgiving." i.e. your mistakes become "creative enhancements!"
Mickey's head is much larger than I sketched out. Consequently, that left less space between his jaw and his arms. I had a devil of a time getting my burrs between his jaw and his arms. However, the area is so tight that I had to forego smoothing that area as much as I would like to. (Ah, creative license!)

His folded arms became another troublesome feature. Hmmmm, how does his hands protrude through his sleeves? Oops, that led to another tiny dilemma. I was nearly ready to seal him for painting and I just had to restructure his right hand... but there again, the lack of space between his jaw and arms helps deceive the eye.

When carving, one major concern is always leaving enough wood for the features. In the case below I cut away too much of his front hat brim.(Grrrrrrr!) I formed a curved piece and glued it in place.

The added "brim" did the job... with a little help of wood filler!

 I like to secure the piece to its base by inlaying it into the base. Inlaying prevents the piece from being twisted on its base. On larger pieces I add a screw in addition to wood glue for longevity and strength.

 I'd say, Mickey is ready for sealing.

 This time I sealed the piece with MinWax #209 Natural Stain.
He stands 10" including the base.

Finally, a carving for the Carver!