Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Latest Carving and my Carving Bench

The latest carving is "Hey! You Got Something I Want!" The person who is receiving this piece recently took up "Bird Watching." The piece developed as I carved. It all started with a "Birder" looking through his binos while a bird nests in his hat. Of course this is a cartoon as old as "Bird Watching." I added a little twist to the piece. My "Birder" unknowingly has an Eagle chick who has taken up residence in his cap... and its mother wants it back!

The piece begins with a piece of 3"x4"x7" tupelo wood.

 This piece called for both front and side views.
I put a little more faith into my band saw and coped out most of the piece. Originally, I planned to have the Mother Eagle directly in front of the "Birder." 
 I "skinned" off the front and side views after the piece was coped out for references.

 As the piece is reduced, I needed to maintain a sketch for a guide.
 I knew I could trust removing the left side of the piece but I waited as long as I could before cutting off the right side sketch.

 In the photo below, I "skinned" off the image but needed sections to help with details.
 As you can see, once the main image is removed the piece becomes somewhat more difficult to
visualize just how deep to cut into the blank as the piece is further reduced for detail.
  I cut the Mother Eagle from the base to spread out the "scene." I ended up using a 5"x7" base.

 The "Birder" begins to take shape.
 For this carver, this is the point of the carving that becomes the most fun.
  You can begin to work up the details.

 It was also the point of the carving that I realized I cut too much off of his forehead! I ended up making three "repairs" to this piece. The build-up of his forehead, the area between his right forearm and upper arm needed to be thickened and his binos eye piece needed to be repaired.

 The "Eaglet" was rather easy to carve due to its small size. As long as you can manage a reasonable appearance to its shape  and you can get the coloration close,  the human eye picks up most of the shape and enhances the detail.
 The "Birder," rocks and Mother Eagle on a tree trunk were to be glued to the base. I inlaid the "Birder's" feet and added 1/8" dowels to the other three features for additional gluing strength.

  Below, the base is cut and drilled for the four separate pieces and everything is sealed with neutral wood stain and ready for paint.
 I spent time in a craft store for ideas for ground cover to bring the four pieces together on its base.
I almost went for the glue on shrubs etc. but I decided to go for an all wooden texture instead.
I took the roughest burr I have and dug out a piece of scrap basswood.
I put the "chips" into an empty plastic Rx pill container and drilled a bunch of 1/8" holes in the cover, brushed wood glue onto the surface and (like a salt shaker) sprinkled the chips onto the glue. I used a thin flat piece of wood (like a tongue depressor) to gently press the chips into the glue. Once dry I blew off the extras and voila!

  Time for paint!
 I used sparkle paint on the binos lenses. 

 This was my first attempt at a tree trunk and rocks. These pieces worked up much easier than I thought they would. The wood texture and grain added a great deal to enhance the character of the tree and rocks.

 To the top of the "Eaglets" head (including the base) is 8".

  Now, here's a look at my carving bench!

The footprint of the work area is just 8'x3'.
 The surface area of the homemade carving bench is 24"W x 20"D.
However, due to the dust vacuum, I only work in an area of about a square foot.
When the piece is ready for paint the bench area from the metal shelf is covered with a rubber matt and it becomes the paint bench.
I use a plastic storage cabinet for my wood and supplies as well.

Now to move on to the next piece!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Elphaba and the Tiara"

The idea for "Elphaba and the Tiara" is from Kari, the person who received my last carving, "Kari Minion, The Tour Guide." Chris, the gentleman receiving this piece is an avid follower of everything Broadway. "Wicked" just happens to be his most popular play. The "Tiara" connection is that Chris works with the Miss America Beauty pageant contestants. And that's how a witch from "Wicked" and a Tiara come together.

The piece seemed easy enough to carve. The band saw had a good workout with this piece and saved me lots of time with the hand piece.

 The piece started out with front and side view sketches. Once I realized how much wood I'd need to remove just to be able to actually begin the carving, I thought it best to give myself patterns to work from
(Front view)

(Side view)
I trimmed the front and side sketches and redrew the images to make it easier on the band saw and also give me templates for later.
Below, the sketches have been trimmed.

Now I can begin to "rough out" the piece.
Her arms out in front of her, hair to the left of her head and a fold "flying in the wind" at the left side of her dress.
Just keep thinking about what areas must be uncut to be sure to leave enough wood for protruding limbs, etc.

 I was surprised to see how fast the "roughing" stage was but as they say, "the devil is in the details."
 I spent more than a few hours just reducing the piece to reach the point where a piece begins to look
like the image you have in your mind.

 The broom worked up quickly. A 1/8" dowel, a piece of cut wood from the scrap pieces and a few minutes with a burr and I had the broom ready for "fitting" into the piece.
 I planned one of her hands to hold the broom and the other to hold the Tiara.
The broom is to be glued into a cut out in the dress and the left hand would be the second point to hold the broom. The broomstick is not glued in.

The Tiara was another issue. I hunted a few of the local arts and crafts stores to see if they had something I could use but all I found was a few rings. I ended up carving one but it took me two tries. The first one I cut it too thin. That's when I decided to not cut away the wood at the opening until I liked the way it was working out. This one worked!
 The Tiara is to set on her hand. I glued it in place so there'd be less chance of mishandling it.

She's ready for a work over with the fine burr.

 Time to seal and paint the piece.
"Elphaba" in all her "Wickedness."

Elphaba is 7 3/4" tall (including the base) and stands on a 5" base.

"Elphaba and the Tiara" is my 57th piece since I began carving caricatures in 2009.