Monday, July 18, 2016

"Miss Piggy and the Angel in the Garden"

While giving a carving to one of my recipients, there was a lady in the office who wanted to talk to me about my carvings. She really liked them and hinted that she'd like to have one. Saundra works in our office but is part of another team. I respectfully tried to explain that I'm trying to make carvings for my own team before I "branch out." Over the next couple of days, I had the opportunity to talk with Saundra to find out a little about her background. In our conversation, I learned that she recently lost her husband and she was busying herself working their garden. Her husband loved his garden. She proudly showed me a couple of pictures of how she was caring for her husband's garden and pointed out in one of the pictures that she placed his gardening boots in his garden. Over the next month or so, I finished up another piece or two. I'm a sucker for carving a piece when I hit upon the idea for the piece. Saundra had mentioned she really likes Miss Piggy. The idea grew into "Miss Piggy and the Angel in the Garden." I'm sure when she receives this piece there will be more than a few tissues put to good use.

The project begins with the story board, sketching out the character I choose and prepping the blank.

Lately, I've been able to trim off my front drawing from the blank for reference.
I still need to sketch the figure on the blank but I spend much more time on the first image for accuracy.
I'm getting a little more confident on the band saw to remove more bulk and save time.

Early on, it helps to "rough" cut into areas that will need to be reduced and those that will need to be protruding, i.e. arms, nose, etc.

 It was just about at this point that I realized I messed up a couple of features. Miss Piggy's ears were yuk! And, her mouth is basically not there! Sooooo, a little "wood" surgery is needed.
I also had to built up the right side of her hair. I left the left ear in place and replaced her right hear, scalp/hair and chin.

You'll never guess what happened! I didn't like the ears!
Off went the ears! This time I'll add fitted ears. (Sitting on the screen at her feet.)
Ahhhh! Finally!

Now to work on her dress slit that shows her legs. Hollowing out the dress also provided more room to finish off her legs and shoes.
Now we're getting someplace.
I wasn't finished removing "parts" just yet. I liked the way her right hand turned out but not the left hand... off it went! Below is the new one.

Now for Saundra's husband's gardening boots. I actually carved them first because they were easy to work-up and finish.

OK don't say it! Its supposed to be a bush with flowers.
 At last all the pieces were completed and ready for mounting and color.
Miss Piggy, check.
The base with gluing cut-outs, check.
The bricks that Saundra trimmed her garden with, check.
The bush with flowers, check.
And, her husband's gardening boots, check.
Everything fits into place.
All the pieces are sealed with Natural 209 stain.
With a little color......
"Miss Piggy and the Angel in the Garden" is brought to life.

The "dirt" in the garden is saw-dust shaken on top of brushed on glue.

I held out completing the piece until I had solved the most frustrating feature of this piece... her eye lashes! I ended up buying actual fake eyelashes at a local Sally Beauty store. Once I removed the rubbery glue that the lashes come with, I could super glue them in place.
"Miss Piggy and the Angel in the Garden" is carved in tupelo wood.
The piece (including the base) is 5" X 7" X 8" high.
The piece is painted with acrylics.
She is held to the base by two screws and glue. The boots, brick garden trim and bush are glued and inlaid.

Friday, July 1, 2016

"The Garden Will Keep Rob, We Got a Plane to Catch"

I don't know which takes longer, to carve the piece or read the title! My carvings are beginning to take on story lines. As I try to incorporate the ideas I am offered by friends of the recipient, I notice the pieces are becoming more complex. This piece has four separate pieces. That means a somewhat more complex piece evolves.

I always start out with a "story board." (Well, sort of!)
"Rob" is to be sleeping in his wheelbarrow. In order to fit "Rob" to the wheelbarrow, it had to be the first item to carve.

 I finally realized the need to finish off my supply of basswood. Basswood doesn't finish well with a rotary carver... no matter how smooth you try to make it.
I persevered and tried my best to smooth this piece out the best I could. I decided to hold off with the finish sanding of the wheelbarrow until I had "Rob" fitted to it.
Now to fit "Rob" to the wheelbarrow.
I wanted to make sure the piece of wood that would become "Rob" would fit the tub of the wheelbarrow before I sketched "Rob."

Finally, "Rob's" butt was fitted into his "seat!"

...and he was ready for the roughing out stage.
The suitcase and wine bottle were a great change of pace for this piece. They were simple and worked up quickly. However, the neck of the bottle below is too short so another wine bottle was needed.
 Time to get "Rob" into shape.

 To save some frustration of trying to make the carving look like the real "Rob," I opted to position his hat over his eyes and nose.
 Below the wheelbarrow and suitcase will be glued to the base with the help of "leg extensions" and dowels.
"Rob" has a woodscrew and glue holding him in place.
I cheated on the "Mickey" on his shirt, the wine bottle label and the suitcase travel stickers. They were printed out, cut out and glued onto the pieces. They were sealed on with the help of the clear satin finish coating.