Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Buzz Lightyear

As every wood carver knows, each carving has meaning and a purpose for creating a specific piece for a specific individual. There in lies the fun and the very reason for making a carving in the first place. With 78 carvings since 2009 under this carvers belt "Buzz Lightyear" is only the second piece that was a request for a most emotional reason.
Normally, my motivation for carving a piece for someone comes from a few ideas that best match the recipients "favorite things." I tend to shy away from "requests," however once I heard Chris' story behind the request I just had to grant it.
Chris is a fellow Cast Member. Over a year  ago Chris' brother, Brian, died suddenly at a young age.
His brother Brian left behind a massive collection of everything and anything connected to Buzz Lightyear. Chris asked if he could have one of my carvings to add to Brian's legacy.
I am both humbled and proud to be able to be part of the memory of Brian's life.
Here is "Buzz Lightyear".....
"Buzz" started out as a block of tupelo wood with an "add-on" for his left arm.
I chose to add the piece on rather than make a much smaller carving.
(Besides, in this case, is was easier to carve a larger figure.)
I liked "Buzz" in this pose. He's "welcoming and friendly."
The carving "blank."
"Buzz" was really tricky to rough out.
He has so many protruding features, reference lines needed constant re-application as the piece progressed

 A great deal of patience was needed through out the entire "roughing" stage of this piece.
At some point "Buzz" is refined enough to begin to shape his feature definition.
Trying to keep this piece symmetrical,
I had to use calipers more on this piece than any other.
As you progress toward the definition stage you've "roughed out" the basic size of all it's features.
You hope you haven't removed too much wood leading to a "deformed" arm, leg, etc.
The best part of every carvers project!
This is the time when you pick out certain details you want to add to truly personalize the carving.
(You'll see one such detail I was determined to include after "Buzz" is painted below.)

"Buzz" is "polished" with a 400g burr and smoothed out as much as possible.

 At last, "Buzz" is ready for painting.
I fastened "Buzz" to the base by reducing the wood under his boots and inlaid him into the base.
(His feet will be inserted into the two bright spots (routered holes) in the center of the base below.)
Chris was extremely close to Brian.
I hope "Buzz Lightyear" will have a special place in "Brian's" collection and
 a special place in the hearts of his family members he left behind.

The tiny detail on "Buzz's" chin was most perplexing. My painting skills have a lot to be desired but I was more than determined to get this tiny mark on his chin one way or another!
I ended up using a mechanical thin lead pencil and voila!

To "Infinity and Beyond" Brian.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Boston Buddies

I'd like to say hi and a big thank you to all of my Blog followers out there for your continued interest. I'd also like to give a "shout-out" to one of my newest Blog fans who hails from the West coast, Shelby. Welcome Shelby! I hope you have as much fun reading my Blog as I have posting them.

It seems like too much time has lapsed since my last post. No excuses but man, this piece just didn't seem to flow like the others. Work got in the way some of the time, but this piece turned out to be a tad more challenging than I imagined.

"Boston Buddies" is carved for a young lady from MA who is a "fan extraordinaire" of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Patriots. For me, matching the idea for the piece to the person receiving is one of the best parts of carving the piece.

The idea to put these two mascots together made sense . Albeit, as a result of creating a "themed" piece my carvings of late have become more complex. And, in some cases, somewhat more frustrating. Seeing that I managed to cut out two pieces from one block of tupelo wood, I thought for sure these small characters would be an easy work-up!

With the templates cut out, I was ready to make fast work of them! ....... Little did I know what was to come.

 I had to "fit" the drawings just so and then make sure I take my time on the band saw or I may end up cutting off too much of one or the other piece.

So far so good! Now for the tricky part.
Aha! Just made it!

"Wally the Green Monster" is first.
A ruff burr will make quick work of "Wally."

There, "Wally" is just about ready for his "finish" with the fine burrs.
Now for "Pat the Patriot!" (Piece of cake right?)
Roughing "Pat" out was reasonably easy. But, the more I handled him and really studied him the more I realized his head just wasn't right!
(After rechecking more photos of "Pat the Patriot" I noticed there is much more to his attire than a front photo will show. His hat, gloves and boots have much more too them.)
His head was soon giving me a headache! least I wasn't going to go through what he was about to endure.
It was decision time!

There's no way his original head was going to work...
Below you can see the "new" head and how much larger it will be due mainly to his hat.
A hole was cut into the neck and his new head will be inserted into the neck.

"Pat's" new head was fitted, cemented and held in place with rubber bands.

At last, the "Boston Buddies" are smoothed out and their base prepared.
The base combines the 50 yard line and home plate for their respective sports.

Below, all three pieces are sealed with clear wood stain. "Wally" and "Pat" will be standing on the soon to be painted "fields" and the rest of the base is stained dark mahogany.

After an overnight of drying they are ready to come alive with color.
(Another concern was noticed when applying the clear finish to the bottom of the base. Some of the stain was not yet dry because I hadn't rubbed off all of the excess stain. After applying the clear it remained tacky for nearly two days. Lesson learned!)
Below, the breakfast nook has become my "paint studio."
I'm not much of an artist when it comes to painting the pieces. It's more like I manage to get the colors in the right places... but with lots of corrective "touch-ups!" "Pat the Patriot" wore my patience thin. However, painting "Pat the Patriot" provided this amateur with some much needed brush and stroke practice that was never expected.
Finally, here are the "Boston Buddies!"


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!"