Friday, October 6, 2017

Wedge Antilles

Star Wars fans will know "Wedge Antilles."

"A talented young rebel pilot from Corellia, Wedge Antilles survived the attack on the first Death Star to become a respected veteran of Rogue Squadron." Star Wars Databank

I came to know "Wedge" as the favorite Star Wars character for the young lady recipient of this carving. With special thanks for the idea from a friend of her's, our recipient will be bringing "Wedge Antilles" home to a special place of honor.

"Wedge" is cut out of a block of tupelo wood. Including the base, he stands just under 8".
My nemesis is carving human figures. I cringe at painting facial details. Truth be told, I've mastered touching up paint mistakes!

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I'm now cutting out the figure and tracing it onto the front of the block. Drawing on the smooth surface allows me to correct and clean the image much easier.
Then, it's on to the band saw.

Let the fun begin! The small size of this character created a need to really fine-tune the intended details of the piece. Providing raised wood for the belts/harnesses, etc. became a tedious process.
Removing all the bulk wood and carefully leaving the articles became a real test of my patience.

As time wore on, I left as much "raised" areas as needed and then went ahead reducing the uniform and body as much as possible.

Once the body was close to completed the details could be slimmed or carved close to the body.

"Wedge" is ready for paint!

Moving to the painting bench is much more pleasant! The kitchen table in the Air Conditioning, you can't beat that!
Of course you do realize, once you get to this point, you notice all the features you want to correct or enhance! But, it's too late for that.
Here's "Wedge Antilles!"

Yes, I have to say it, "May the Force Be With You!"

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eeyore's Favorite Things

This is a second Eeyore carving for me. This one will be headed home to a person who has been with Disney for many years. His favorite Disney character is Eeyore, he enjoys Broadway shows, his favorite Broadway show is "Hello Dolly" and his favorite adult beverage is Neuve Clicquot. With the help of his assistant, we put together a rather nice assemblage of all things this quiet man holds near and dear. His assistant needed to pull out all the stops to find out all she did. I think this piece "fill's the bill!"

I've started using a hard paper cut out to trace the image on the block. It was much easier rather than erasing so many sketch lines from the wood.
I've been trying to salvage as much of the block of tupelo wood I can. I managed to get Eeyore and the champagne out of this piece. Which, by the way, was somewhat smaller than the blocks I prefer to buy. As you read on, you'll come to understand how this size block altered the finished piece.
This piece turned out to be quite a different experience for this carver. I started out with the simplest piece to give me a little more motivation. The "Broadway" sign was simple yet somewhat tedious trying to keep from cutting to much away from the letters with a burr.
With the "Broadway" sign prepared I worked on the champagne bottle.  
It too was quite easy however, I had to spend a lot of time mulling over in my mind how I would place the bottle on the piece. I decided on having Eeyore hold the bottle to his tummy with his arms. The main block of wood (to be Eeyore) as I said, is smaller. I ended up cutting into his belly and place the bottle under his arms. That meant, I had to position Eeyore in a more upright sitting position. I couldn't find any photos of him sitting in this position so I ended up speculating just how he would look sitting upright. It meant, I had to  cut his belly out to fit the bottle.
The shape of the bottle needed to be cut into his body.
Once the bottle was all set, I can begin his final reduction
All that was left was his long floppy ears! I was very concerned about how fragile they would be and break easily. I attempted to leave them thicker for their protection.
The next (and most frustrating) part of this piece was the fur on his head and tail. Working with rotating burrs I just couldn't get the hair to look anywhere near the way I wanted it to look. I ended up cutting the top of his head off, leveling it and adding another piece of wood to start over again. Thanks to all the other progress on the piece and a lot more patience, I ended up with what you see in the photo below.
At least Eeyore's fur on his head appears to be better looking than what was originally planned!
 Eeyore's eyes needed to be "cut in."
This is one of the more difficult things to plan in to a caving. Leaving enough wood on the piece so you can "leave" enough for the details.
At this point below, Eeyor's ready for sealing and paint
 Lastly, His tail and poster board of "Hello Dolly."
Of late, I've taken my paint setup into the house. The garage has been too hot causing the paints to dry rapidly and not flow well. I didn't mind the A/C either!!
The base is plotted out as to where I will place and secure the three objects of the piece to the base.
I've begun using dowels plus glue to secure the pieces. Given the larger size of Eeyore, I used two screws through the base to his butt with a few dabs of glue. 
At the last minute, I planned a grass look for the top of the base. For that I use glue and sprinkle sawdust onto the glue. I have come to like the texture rather than just a flat color.  However, this can create another problem you tend to forget about... as in this case! You can see in the photo below what looks like a 1st quarter moon facing downward. That's where Eeyore will sit. It has no "grass" on it. The one thing I forgot was to do the same where his tail contacts the grass. The surface is higher where the grass is, hence, I ended up sanding off some of his tail cord to allow the tail to sit flat on the surface.
With all the pieces painted, Eeyore's ready for his new home.
The other subtle add-on is glow in the dark paint. The "bulbs" of the Broadway sign will glow in the dark!
The Champagne bottle label is cut out and glued onto the bottle.
The latest touch I like to add is a hint of glitter. Just enough tends to catch your eyes. In Eeyore's case I added glitter to the grass.
And that's "Eeyore's Favorite Things!"
_______________As a side note..._____________
"Eeyore's Favorite Things" also marks a milestone in my time at the carving bench. It is the 75th piece since I began carving "One of a Kind Wood Carvings" back in June of 2009.
An idea for a wedding gift for a Disney Manager, Jeremy and his wife, Sarah started it all!
"Bands" will always have a special place in my heart.
And yes, Jeremy & Sarah are doing well!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Leprechaun and B2 Around the Plate... ...of Oreo Cookies

The carving ideas for "The Leprechaun and B2 Around the Plate... ...of Oreo Cookies" were from two of this carving recipients close friends, Ken and Sam. The first friend told me Trent (recipient) loves the Chicago White Sox and he's getting his young son into baseball at a very young age. Trent's son's initials are B. B. So Trent calls him B2 (as in B squared). OK I've got it. I'm going to carve the Chicago White Sox Mascot, a young bat boy and a bowl of Oreo cookies. (Trent's favorite treat.)
Off I go, I ruff out the two characters on hard paper, trim them and trace them onto the tupelo block of wood. Great! I can get both figures out of one piece and I'll use a piece of saved scrap for the bowl of cookies. No problem!

The band saw quickly cuts out both carving blanks.
 I begin roughing out the two characters.

In between carving sessions, I happen to be working and bump into Trent's other friend, Sam. Sam proceeds to tell me, "oh no, Trent is a Notre Dame fan extraordinaire!" He goes on to tell me a little background about Trent's love of Notre Dame. Sam mentions the "Fighting Irish Leprechaun" and my "wheels" begin to work out how to turn a furball mascot into a Leprechaun!

I've already began roughing the White Sox Mascot so I begin to look a photos of the "Fighting Irish Leprechaun" in various poses. Aha! If I gave the Leprechaun a wide stance and arms stretched out with street fighting gloves it just might work. There was only one problem the head was too small and needed to be removed and replaced with a new head and a hat added.

 The transformation worked.

 Now for the cookies. They were easy. First the plate then little round flat discs! Done!

Now, the Bat Boy! He actually worked up pretty quickly because of his size. However, the smaller a carving is the thinner some parts of the piece will need to be. In particular, the bat. I decided to position the bat in front of the boy so I'd have two places to secure it. At his hands and feet.

 There! As I began to refine the bat boy, I managed to get his arms away from his body as well as the bat from his legs. The definition was beginning to look like what I wanted it to be. I found out just how frail the arms and bat are while trying to position him on the base with the dowels I will use to secure him to the base. I pushed just a little to much and the bat broke. Yikes! Then I noticed without the bat his arms were really easy to break. Now what!
 I've used dowels for specific parts before. They're stronger than a thin piece of tupelo. I trimmed the bat of the broken tupelo and inserted a 1/8" dowel. Problem solved and even stronger. The "struts" holding the bat to his shoes also broke as well as the bat. Luckily, it was a clean break that would glue easily.
With all the pieces ready for sealing, I begin the process of "pinning" the pieces to the base. Dowels into their feet and the bottom of the plate. I had to make sure the same dowel went into it's matching hole so I marked them. Nothing is that precise in this carver's world!
 The Oreo Cookies. I wasn't about to detail every one of the seven cookies with the "Oreo" imprint, so I made an attempt at it for just the top cookie!
 You remember, "B Squared" right?
 The finished piece!

After this project, I don't know whether to go to a football game, baseball game or enjoy a bowl of Oreo cookies! I'm up for the later!