Friday, June 23, 2017

The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist

"The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist" turned out to be the most complex and somewhat frustrating piece I've carved to date. To start off with I was given three pretty good ideas for this piece, ending up using all of them plus one.

The recipient is a Green Bay Packers super fan! What's the latest craze for Green Bay football fans?
Why the "Lambeau Leap" of course! He's also quite a bit of a "stand-up comic." Topping off his comedic prowess, he worked as a Disney Jungle Cruise Skipper. Now, if you've been on the Disney Jungle Cruise, you know comedy is their thing. They took "spieling" to a new level as they take you down river. This fellow went a bit further, he became one of the Managers and actually wrote a newer "spiel" for the Skippers. Oh, the tape cassette on the floor of the stage marked "Awesome Mix Vol. 1, many of you may know of it from the series "Guardians of the Galaxy." That's just another one of his interests. So there you have it!
Here's what the scene represents, The Jungle Cruise Skipper was performing his comedy routine at the local "Saturday Night Comedy Club" in costume when suddenly the Club's TV Network announced a Green Bay Packers game winning touchdown and the crowd went wild. At that point, our Skipper joined the crowd and launched himself into a "Lambeau Leap" into the club's stage
This baby took a little more planning than first thought! The base was easy. The block of tupelo easy.
Scrap pieces for the following; microphone stand, wall sign and a "brick wall" easy right!
The brick wall made me think a little.  
To save from buying a large chunk of clear wood for the wall, I went with another base. I simply cut off the routered edging, fit it to the base, scribed the bricks and voila... a wall!
I really didn't want the wall to take longer to carve than the figure. So I kept the amount of brick breakage to just enough to show he broke through the wall.
In the photo below you'll notice the small piece I added to the "wall" to show some busted out bricks.
(The wall will be glued and screwed to the base.)
The more important issue I had to deal with is that I had to place the figure onto the wall so it would be strong enough not to be knocked off the wall over time.
Below is the mic stand base, "Saturday Night Live" Sign and the cassette tape.
With all the pieces started now for the main character.

I planned to "pin" his right foot to the stage and have his left foot raised as if he just landed on the wall. In the photo below his butt has not yet been cut in at his back side to "fit" into several bricks of the wall.
Below, after reducing his body, his head just didn't make it. It's too small!
So, off with his head!

I decided to try something that most character carvers do for a number of reasons, They carve the head separate from the body. They use a stem to fit into the chest and in many cases they do not secure the head so it can be moved into various positions. I decided to glue this one in place.
Of course (below) you see his head fits but I also had to do a little "surgery" where I cut too much of his right underarm away.
With just about all of my mistakes corrected let's begin the final stretch of this piece.

Can't forget the "Cheese head!
Oh, making the holes in the cheese was simple... painting the holes another story!
OK, mic, his body, boots, head, cheese head etc. all finished with a fine burr and rubbed for sealing.
Three cuts in his butt to fit to the bricks were added to settle him into the wall. Then, he will be screwed through the wall into his back side.
The mic stand and bricks are ready. (Of course, there must be some broken bricks that fell when he leaped onto the wall!)
Finally, sealed and waiting for painting. (On the sole of his right boot you can see the dowel hole for the pin that will secure him to the stage.)

The rear of the wall with the broken bricks on the floor. You can just about make out the hole for the screw that is securing him to the wall.

The "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" tape.
Naw, I didn't light the sign!

There had to be a mic cord! I used telephone gauge rubber coated wire pushed into his mic and secured in the block on the floor. The mic stand has a wood base, a coat hanger wire and a small round ferrule (if you will) for the height adjustment.

Costume checks out... and of course the name tag!
At last, "The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist!"




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Percy Puffin II

The incentive to carve Percy Puffin II came about while setting out to see who my next carving recipient would be. The idea for Percy came out of a conversation I had with a guest while driving him to his resort. The well-spoken executive opened up with a few questions about my back ground experiences. We hit it off when I mentioned my tour of duty in Iceland in 1969. He recently had the opportunity to plan a few days stop over in Iceland and see some of the beauty the "Land of Fire and Ice" has to offer. I couldn't resist asking him if he got to see a Puffin. He didn't get to see one but he knew about them. I mentioned I still had the stuffed Puffin I purchased back in 1969. (Please, don't get too upset. Back in '69 the locals weren't too concerned about what foreigners thought about selling stuffed animals.)
The gentleman asked me if I gave the Puffin a name. Without hesitation I responded, "of course, Percy, Percy Puffin!" With a few laughs and a surprised look he said, "that's my Father's name!"
Over the next day or so we would have a chance to meet and I showed him a picture of Percy.
His interest and the wonderful conversation we briefly enjoyed led to the idea for this carving.

Over the next few days my quiet time was spent putting together my plans for "Percy Puffin II."
Using my "real" Puffin as a model, the shape was simple and worked up quickly. I knew the basic shape will need some very specific details to make this work... I'm not a bird carver! Painting Percy would become the key to making this carving work.

Here's how Percy worked up....

 We'll start with a block of basswood.
The idea was to keep Percy small for a faster work up.
Much of the bulk was removed by the band saw.

Percy's basic shape was quite simple. Although, as they say, "the devil is in the details."
I new early on it will be subtle touches and (hopefully) a very detailed paint job that will make the difference in this piece.
The block of wood Percy is glued to will become his feet and the "Lava" he'll be standing on.

Percy's legs are 5/16" wooden dowels drilled and glued into his hind area as well as into the "rock" base. 
Admittedly, a fair amount of guess work went into the angular drilling to fit the dowel legs into position. Wood filler finished off my "guess work." The dowels are to be thinned/shaped once the glue sets.

Below, Percy is clear stained and ready for color. 
(As a side note, Icelandic lava is called Aa lava. It's extremely porous and extremely crusty/sharp and nearly black in color. The beach sand is black. I ruined a pair of hiking boots in a matter of just a couple hikes over the ancient southern coastal lava flows.)

Not being a bird carver I'll leave feathers to the bird carvers who utilize wood burners for such detail.
I opted for a medium rough round burr to simulate a feather type texture on his surface.
Painting Percy provided me with much needed practice on my brush techniques. I struggled to "fine tune" accent colors and "dry brush" techniques as well as appropriate color renditions.

Percy Puffin and Percy Puffin II meet officially for the first time.