Friday, April 18, 2014

"Take Her to Sea Mickey"

A fitting gift. "Take Her to Sea Mickey" is being given to a friend who just happens to enjoy Disney Cruises with his wife. Yes, he is a long time Disney Cast Member and most helpful to me as I work in my new Disney role.
The Tupelo wood worked up easy but for some reason this carving took much longer than I expected. There are three pieces that will make up this carving.
First the ship's wheel and pedestal.
The ship's wheel is easy to draw. A compass and ruler made a quick template. The pedestal too was an easy design. Cutting out the ship's wheel however, required some delicate sanding. I found out after I had the ship's wheel cut out and was well into positioning Mickey on the base that the ship's wheel was too large. So, another wheel had to be cut along with resizing the pedestal.
As the process was similar I didn't want to be too redundant and add the resizing photos.

 Sanding the spokes was simple. Cut a long strip of fine sandpaper, wrap it around the spoke and pull on the sides
 I had to wrestle with just how to fasten the wheel to the pedestal. I gave up on the screw idea and just went with gluing the center to the wheel.

Mickey is always a challenge to me. His muzzle and nose seem to be my nemesis. Drawing the template is easy but the fun begins as you cut away the pencil lines!

The band saw saves lots of time but you need to "think" ahead not to cut too much wood away.

There's continuous looking and checking your carving with the photos you work from.

Working the face is always frustrating. I find working the overall piece helps rather than working one specific area at a time. Sometimes as I work a piece, I can become hung up on one aspect, so I move to another area to reduce frustration. Eventually, you get to a point where the overall figure develops.

Once you can "see" the caricature you can work the details. 

This is the point where I realized the ship's wheel was too large. Mickey will be glued to the base by inlaying the wood under his feet. As you can see if I lower him another 1/2" the wheel will be in his muzzle!

The photo I used for the image placed Mickey between the wheel and the pedestal. You can do that in a two-dimensional photo but not in this case. Therefore, Mickey was going behind the wheel. That meant the pedestal will be in front of him and it needed to be reduced in size. And that made all the difference.

Mickey had plenty of wood under his feet for gluing but I had to add a piece to the pedestal.
 The Disney Cruise Line Logo on the pedestal was a last minute thought. (I prefer not to waste space.)
Besides, as they say, "the devil is in the details!"

Oh, remember I mentioned that Mickey's nose and muzzle always manage to frustrate me. Well, with Mickey all painted and ready for his clear top coat, I decided to remove his old nose and replace it with another. It was also positioned higher on his muzzle.

"Take Her to Sea Mickey!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Zoey & Abby"

"Zoey & Abby" are the love of a fellow worker who has provided me with a great deal of support and guidance during my new job transition. These (nearly identical) Schnauzers are the love of her live.
"Zoey & Abby" really tested my patience!
 Oh, their bodies worked up quickly.

 Nicely rounded bodies. Not too much detail, nice!

 But their heads, ears and facial hair took a toll on me.

Right from the "git-go" their ears just didn't seem to work up well for me.

I cut them off and started over.
 That didn't work. Let's try this again!

Yikes! That's enough wood for Abby's ears but Zoey's ears and muzzle were a different story.
OK, Abby's ears (on the right) were keepers. But Zoey's ears, eyes and muzzle hair was a fright!

"Off with her head!" (Too graphic to show this is a family blog!)
With her new head in place and plenty of wood to work with let's try this again.
Even though Zoey's ears were trimmed too narrow I knew when to give in.
"Zoey & Abby" are made of Tupelo wood and mounted on a piece of pine board.
The overall piece is 71/4" Wide, 7 1/8" Deep and 5" tall.
"Zoey & Abby" are each just over 6" long, just under 3" wide and under 4" tall.
Zoey and Abby were sealed and ready for paint!

Acrylic colors, clear Satin finish on everything but their eyes were painted with clear gloss.

Whew! "Zoey & Abby" required nearly double the time it takes me to complete a carving.
But it  was well worth the effort and I'm sure they will have a very good home.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Tweety Bird"

It's safe to say "Tweety" is one of so many people's favorite cartoon character. He also happens to be very special to a friend's wife and will make an awesome surprise gift. You may recall my last carving, "Double Nuts," well when Brad's wife saw the carving she "hinted" about her favorite cartoon character of all times... "Tweety," and right then and there I knew a surprise gift is in order.

As with so many carvings, some appear to be simple to carve due to their shape, detail, etc. Yet, sometimes the (so called) simple carvings can be the most frustrating!. I'd say "Tweety" worked up quickly but making a couple subtle features caught me off guard. First off, I could not find a profile photo of "Tweety." As a kid I was a cartoon junkie and every Saturday morning, (just after the TV "Test Pattern" went off the screen) I was glued to the TV for a morning of cartoons with my bag of chips and Coca-Cola. As often as I watched "Tweety" get the better of "Sylvester" I can't tell you what "Tweety" looks like from the side! So I went with my "gut!"

Starting out with a piece of basswood, I begin to cut away everything that doesn't look like "Tweety!"

Don't let the flat spot on "Tweety's" head fool you. His head is large enough so I have plenty of wood to work with.
Although, that flat spot did drive me to frustration! It took longer than I thought to get his head round.

 But I managed!

His basic shape worked up quickly and now to try to work in the proper sizes of his arms, legs, etc.

I am (what is known as) a power-carver. I use a Mastercarver rotary tool with various burrs/bits to shape and remove wood. As such I've had a long struggle with wood grain swelling when I use water based sealers/paints. As I've learned from the Woodcarving Illustrated Forum, power carving is not a friend to wood grain. The grain is severely damaged by the cutting tools which results in far more surface smoothing than if you use a sharp carving instrument. Consequently, I've been plagued by texture problems through most of my pieces. I'm also spraying the piece with water to actually raise the grain so I can finish sand the piece again with an extremely fine sand paper/burr.
Finally, after my thirty-seventh piece since 2009, I'm actually seeing an improvement in my finish work
 Next we fit him to the base...

Time for sealer.
...and then the color.
 "Tweety" stands 5 1/2" tall without the base. He's cut out of a 3" X 3" piece of basswood.
 The "tufts" of hair on his head are strands of plastic bristles taken from my shop broom!
He was sealed with Minwax 209. His colors are acrylic and sealed with clear Satin Polycrylic. His eyes are sealed with clear gloss Polycrylic.
I tawt I taw a putty tat.
I did, I did.
I did tee a putty tat!