Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"I'm Just a Stetson Hatter, Beer Drinkin' PLAID Kinda Gal"

As you can tell by the title there's more than you think about how the idea for this piece developed.

Let's start with a 4" X 4" by 6" block of basswood.
Then, a front sketch for the front to back coping to make the template. 

A little work on the band saw and Minnie is ready to delineate the side view.
(It never fails, I always spend a great deal of time drawing a reasonably accurate front view. Then, I end up with "depth scratches" on the sides and back.)
If I'm lucky, I can cut off the complete front view. That allows me to set it in place and give me a fairly good estimate of where I'm cutting.

The Stetson hat and Minnie's ears gave me quite a challenge. I figured she's a cartoon and it's my carving, I'll just make her ears go right through her hat!
("Artistic License!")

 After you see how the piece develops I'll explain how the hat, mug, crop and outfit came to be part of this piece
I've done one other pair of boots and even this character (The Disney VIT Tour Guide) before so I tried to alter the piece because I prefer not to repeat characters. However, tying all these items into one piece made it all worth while.
The actual boot behind Minnie is one of my Father's boots when he was a young man. He called himself "The Whispering Ranger." He sang requested songs on WESX AM radio in his 20's in the late ''30s and early '40s. I'm proud to be able to still have his boots. They are very small and in time gave him lots of problems with his feet. But they looked great.
(I plan to put together a post about my Dad's story at a later date.)
At first I wanted to carve Minnie's boots just like Dad's but I decided to go with "Cowgirl" boots instead.

As Minnie comes together you can visualize a few of the items in her title.
She's sealed and ready for paint!
And now.... the rest of the story....
The recipient of this piece is obviously a Disney Cast Member. She was a VIP Tour Guide and has a number of miniatures of these "guides" on her desk. Hence the PLAID outfit and crop.
Her friend (and one of my "sleuths") told me Melanie is working toward her Master's Degree at Stetson University here in Florida. The University Mascot is the "Stetson Hatter."
 And that's how the cowboy hat and boots fit into the piece.
The real "kicker" is the beer mug! One of my "sleuths" told me that Melanie frequents the Town Tavern for a beer or two after class. In fact she's managed to be awarded her own "mug" to be placed on the "Wall of Fame" in the establishment.
Now you know just how the title and the carving ideas developed into,
"I'm Just a Stetson Hatter, Beer drinkin' PLAID Kinda Gal" came to be!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"The Goofy Hockey Player"

This piece will be headed home with a Buffalo Sabres Hockey team fan. Goofy "fit the bill" for the character because Phil (the recipient) is tall and lanky as well. Besides, I also think hockey is one of those sports where it helps to be just a tad "goofy" to be able to play a good game!

Here's how we turn a 4" X 4" X 12" piece of Tupelo wood into a lifelong keepsake for a friend.

Sketching out the template there's always that hope that you can "stay within the lines." No matter how hard I try, my carvings always turn out to appear not exactly as I draw the piece.
First, the center lines
Then the outline.

A few minutes on the band saw.

Now to transpose the depth/side view of the piece. Of late, I've come to notice that I spend a great deal of time developing the front view, then I seemingly, haphazardly sketch the side view.
On this piece and several others I manage to cut the front view from the block as a single piece. Cutting the front view off the piece allows me to repeatedly align and place it back onto the piece for reference points.
The tricky part... to maintain the protruding features as you reduce the piece.

Sometimes one just has to make a correction! A miss judged slant of Goofy's muzzle called for a minor "surgical" procedure. 
That's better! And, no, those are not sunglasses on Goofy's forehead. That feature will become his eyebrows.

As Goofy begins to take shape you'll notice the one major issue a rotary tool carver has to deal with, the texture of the piece as you work it down with burrs.

Working with a rotary burr on Tupelo means that there is a great deal of "smoothing" out the piece to keep the wood from swelling when you add the finish. I must admit, I spent a great deal of time "smoothing" the surface on this piece. I ended up running 600grit burrs over all surfaces. I dedicated an entire morning just on smoothing this piece out.
But, it was worth it!
At last the piece is ready for sealing.
 This piece taught me another lesson.  The Florida heat and water based paint caused a bit of panic for this carver. The "ice" Goofy is standing on began to warp when I glued the "ice" to the base. I ended up clamping the piece and fortunately, the glue was still soft enough to be pressed together. After being clamped overnight the piece was ready for its final protective clear coat.

Here's "The Goofy Hockey Player," #1 Pilarz.
(I know, the low numbers and zeros are typically reserved for the Goalie, however the recipient is a number 1 kinda guy!

Take your best shot Goofy!