Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Jiminy Cricket and the Candy Drawer"

A co-worker where I work, recently received a Disney 30th year Anniversary Award. The award happens to be Jiminy Cricket. Therefore, Jiminy became the "caricature of choice" for Glorimar's carving. You may be curious as to just how does Jiminy Cricket relate to a candy drawer. Glorimar provides our group with a "Candy Drawer" and yours truly likes to take advantage of having such a treat close by. Glorimar knows I like to "help-out" and donate to replenish the drawer's contents. She also knows I "dig" for dark chocolate candies. She's been extremely kind to maintain a dark chocolate "secret stash" and seems to only add the dark chocolate when I'm working. Hence, the connection between Jiminy Cricket and Glorimar's candy drawer... and now... you know the rest of the story! (As the late, great Paul Harvey always said.)

So, how do I mate Jiminy with dark chocolate? Answering that question was the fun part of this carving. Those of you who have a creative hobby understand all the thought that goes into creating a specific piece for a specific person. When all your thoughts and ideas reach that focal point you begin to "put it on paper" so too speak. In Jiminy's case, he'll be standing on and "melting" into a Ghirardelli dark chocolate square.

Many of you know all my carvings include a PowerPoint Presentation set to music that fits the subject matter and progress of the piece. Sometimes I hear a song and log it in the back of my mind to accompany a later carving. Many times, while carving, I'm listening to various songs/music to find just the right music for the piece at hand.

I began including the PowerPoint Program as part of my gift to my carving recipients when the first person I handed an original piece to asked where I purchased it. I quickly realized that unless you're around someone who makes handcrafted pieces, many people may not realize the process, time and workmanship that goes into a hand carved gift. They only see the finished product.

On with "Jiminy Cricket and the Candy Drawer."

A 4" X 4" X 12" block of tupelo wood is where I begin.
 I try to get at least two pieces out of one block of the above size.
The band saw is a huge time-saver when it comes to coping the template.
(Note the tiny acid brush and bristles to the left of the photo below?
Sometimes we artists make an "oops" now and then. Well, while trying to brush off the sawdust so I can see the lines I kinda caught the blade!)
 Jiminy coped out and almost ready for carving.

Looking at Jiminy from the side I judged that if I made reference marks on his sides I would be able to cope both the front and back of him as well.
I could cut over a 1/2" off on the front and back. But, that meant I really needed to refer to my original drawing a great deal.

After lots of "roughing out" a piece, every now and then I like to carve a "helper" line or curve to keep me on track. Remember, always leave enough wood for the details as you go. Yes, I've had to "add" some wood when I got a bit to aggressive!

A good example of what I mean above, is how I planned to "stand" Jiminy "melting" into a dark chocolate square.

As you can see, I would have preferred carving (melting) him deeper into the chocolate square.
At first, I planned to carve him and his chocolate square in one piece. I gave up on that idea and cut the square off to inlay him onto a smaller chocolate square.
There's actually another reason for the chocolate square change. With Ghirardelli being a major Disney Participating Vendor I thought it best not to carve a competitor's chocolate bar!

 Below Jiminy will be inlayed into the "chocolate" and the "melted" chocolate will displace the Ghirardelli logo that is to be glued to the surface.

Finally, the piece is sealed with clear stain and ready for paint.

"Jiminy Cricket and the Candy Drawer" stands 7 3/4" on a 5" square base.

As Jiminy says, "Always let your conscience be your guide..."
...unless you're digging into Glorimar's Candy Drawer!

Monday, March 9, 2015

"The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street"

This piece turned out to be the best "carving to recipient" matched piece I've had the pleasure of carving. With an idea from one of the recipient's friend, Marvin, this carving became a carving story I'll tell for years to come.

I like my carvings to be "connected" to the person I make the carving for. I knew I wanted to carve something for Julie but I needed help with an idea. I asked Marvin to give some thought to my request. In short order, Marvin sent me an email suggesting carving the "tiny Church" Julie and her husband were married in. Marvin's suggestion was perfect! An old Church (built in 1883), it's interior and exterior as it was when it was first built (except for exterior paint) and
just right for an intimate wedding. Julie and Larry, through a friendly priest, were introduced to the "All Saints Episcopal Church" and immediately fell in love with this little Church. It became a cornerstone of their lives as well as a major emotional connection for each of them. The little Church's character, charm and quaintness is forever etched into their hearts and minds.

I was on a mission. I studied the Church's web site and grew even more attached to the task at hand. Each person I carve a piece for is also given a PowerPoint Program of the progress of the piece. The song/music I select for each program is sought out with the same gusto as each carving and must closely match the theme or idea behind the piece.

Everything came together as no other carving for me. The end result confirmed "The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street" is a highlight of my carvings over the years. Julie was deeply touched by both the presentation and the carving. It will have a special place in Julie and Larry's home and hearts.

This is the carving story of "The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street."

 The little Church as photographed in 1883.
In a most recent photo the little Church appears nearly unchanged except for the exterior paint and walk ways. Its interior is just as it was when it was built. The little Church proudly displays its turn of the century interior exposed ceiling beams, trusses and wall studs. Adding to that, the wood has a rich golden patina that is aged to perfection. 

 I started with a 4" X 4" X 12" piece of Tupelo wood.

After "mapping out" the piece the roughing-out stage can begin.

 Given the building's exterior design, much of the roughing-out was performed with a large rough burr rather than a band saw.

Along the way, reference lines needed to be redrawn to keep me from cutting too deep into "exterior walls," etc.
 There's always the expectation that a piece can be completed from a single piece of wood. However, this piece needed an "extension" to carve out the stairs and ramp.
 Guess work and "eye-balling" the details goes hand in hand with many of my pieces. 

When trying to work out the details, it helps me to skip around and work in small areas to minimize frustration and also keep the details in perspective.

I carve nearly every bit of a piece with a rotary tool using various burrs. I basically use a blade to help square corners and trimming rough burr edges.
 Windows are left for the very end.
The window trim moldings are thin and it would be too easy to cut into one with the burr used to flatten the exterior walls.

 Each carving needs to be "personalized" with one or more "add-on's." In this case a sign was added with the wedding couple's names on it.

 Sealing the finished piece with Natural wood stain permits the wood to accept acrylic color without making the grain swell. This is the first piece that the base will be both painted and stained. That means that the Natural wood stain needed to be applied where the color will be added and NOT where the darker base stain will be applied. I must admit, I overstepped the boundaries at the edge of the grass and I paid the price. While applying the dark stain it would not penetrate where the Natural stain was. Let's just say it added a bit more "character" to the piece!

 When the piece is ready for sealing and color its all I can do to stop working on it. The finished product is in site.
 The Church is 10" long and 5" wide. The base is 16" long and 6" wide.

 The finished piece.
The All Saint's Episcopal Church
of Enterprise, Florida
 as it is today.