Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Leprechaun and B2 Around the Plate... ...of Oreo Cookies

The carving ideas for "The Leprechaun and B2 Around the Plate... ...of Oreo Cookies" were from two of this carving recipients close friends, Ken and Sam. The first friend told me Trent (recipient) loves the Chicago White Sox and he's getting his young son into baseball at a very young age. Trent's son's initials are B. B. So Trent calls him B2 (as in B squared). OK I've got it. I'm going to carve the Chicago White Sox Mascot, a young bat boy and a bowl of Oreo cookies. (Trent's favorite treat.)
Off I go, I ruff out the two characters on hard paper, trim them and trace them onto the tupelo block of wood. Great! I can get both figures out of one piece and I'll use a piece of saved scrap for the bowl of cookies. No problem!

The band saw quickly cuts out both carving blanks.
 I begin roughing out the two characters.

In between carving sessions, I happen to be working and bump into Trent's other friend, Sam. Sam proceeds to tell me, "oh no, Trent is a Notre Dame fan extraordinaire!" He goes on to tell me a little background about Trent's love of Notre Dame. Sam mentions the "Fighting Irish Leprechaun" and my "wheels" begin to work out how to turn a furball mascot into a Leprechaun!

I've already began roughing the White Sox Mascot so I begin to look a photos of the "Fighting Irish Leprechaun" in various poses. Aha! If I gave the Leprechaun a wide stance and arms stretched out with street fighting gloves it just might work. There was only one problem the head was too small and needed to be removed and replaced with a new head and a hat added.

 The transformation worked.

 Now for the cookies. They were easy. First the plate then little round flat discs! Done!

Now, the Bat Boy! He actually worked up pretty quickly because of his size. However, the smaller a carving is the thinner some parts of the piece will need to be. In particular, the bat. I decided to position the bat in front of the boy so I'd have two places to secure it. At his hands and feet.

 There! As I began to refine the bat boy, I managed to get his arms away from his body as well as the bat from his legs. The definition was beginning to look like what I wanted it to be. I found out just how frail the arms and bat are while trying to position him on the base with the dowels I will use to secure him to the base. I pushed just a little to much and the bat broke. Yikes! Then I noticed without the bat his arms were really easy to break. Now what!
 I've used dowels for specific parts before. They're stronger than a thin piece of tupelo. I trimmed the bat of the broken tupelo and inserted a 1/8" dowel. Problem solved and even stronger. The "struts" holding the bat to his shoes also broke as well as the bat. Luckily, it was a clean break that would glue easily.
With all the pieces ready for sealing, I begin the process of "pinning" the pieces to the base. Dowels into their feet and the bottom of the plate. I had to make sure the same dowel went into it's matching hole so I marked them. Nothing is that precise in this carver's world!
 The Oreo Cookies. I wasn't about to detail every one of the seven cookies with the "Oreo" imprint, so I made an attempt at it for just the top cookie!
 You remember, "B Squared" right?
 The finished piece!

After this project, I don't know whether to go to a football game, baseball game or enjoy a bowl of Oreo cookies! I'm up for the later!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Alice, LuLaRoe and the Cat

"Alice, LuLaRoe and the Cat" actually make-up three things this carving recipient really enjoys; Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat and LuLaRoe clothing. Actually, she enjoys Alice in Wonderland and LuLaRoe Clothing, I added the Cheshire Cat because when I think of Alice in Wonderland, I think of the Cheshire Cat!
I began using paper cut-outs to trace on my tupelo wood rather than sketching the main image onto the wood itself. It also helps out for the opposite side image. I simply reverse the cut-out and save a lot of time. Typically, I'll draw the main image I will be viewing from the front of the piece. I still end up scribing lots of other guide marks until I can readily make out the figure, then the fun begins!

Aha, I get two pieces out of one block for this carving.

 Both pieces coped out on the band saw.

I still catch myself not leaving enough wood for some features!
At first, I thought I had plenty of wood for the Cheshire cat's tail. NOT!
The Cheshire Cat gets a re-do on his tail. His new tail is held in place by a 1/8" dowel and glue.

With the Cat ready for paint I can move on to Alice.


Alice is typically pictured with very tiny feet. Even though I made her feet larger than normal I have her sitting on a tree stump. When I work with a standing figure I prefer to plan that more of the figure is planted to the base for strength. Securing the two figures in this carving was simple as the bulk of the pieces are touching the base. Each piece is held in place with a screw and glued to the base.
 Sometimes I find that a piece can grow into much more work than originally planned. At first I thought I'd have the Cheshire Cat on a tree limb. I decided to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple S.....) and sit Alice on a tree stump and put the cat on the "dirt!"
The "dirt" is glued wood particles from using course burrs.
I opted for the older image of the Cheshire Cat. The newer one just didn't fit the image I wanted.

 Well, this is my version of LulaRoe's leggings!
 Our main character, Alice.
 The Cheshire Cat says to Alice, "You don the strangest leggins for these parts."
You can tell by Alice's eyes that's just what she wants to hear!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist

"The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist" turned out to be the most complex and somewhat frustrating piece I've carved to date. To start off with I was given three pretty good ideas for this piece, ending up using all of them plus one.

The recipient is a Green Bay Packers super fan! What's the latest craze for Green Bay football fans?
Why the "Lambeau Leap" of course! He's also quite a bit of a "stand-up comic." Topping off his comedic prowess, he worked as a Disney Jungle Cruise Skipper. Now, if you've been on the Disney Jungle Cruise, you know comedy is their thing. They took "spieling" to a new level as they take you down river. This fellow went a bit further, he became one of the Managers and actually wrote a newer "spiel" for the Skippers. Oh, the tape cassette on the floor of the stage marked "Awesome Mix Vol. 1, many of you may know of it from the series "Guardians of the Galaxy." That's just another one of his interests. So there you have it!
Here's what the scene represents, The Jungle Cruise Skipper was performing his comedy routine at the local "Saturday Night Comedy Club" in costume when suddenly the Club's TV Network announced a Green Bay Packers game winning touchdown and the crowd went wild. At that point, our Skipper joined the crowd and launched himself into a "Lambeau Leap" into the club's stage
This baby took a little more planning than first thought! The base was easy. The block of tupelo easy.
Scrap pieces for the following; microphone stand, wall sign and a "brick wall" easy right!
The brick wall made me think a little.  
To save from buying a large chunk of clear wood for the wall, I went with another base. I simply cut off the routered edging, fit it to the base, scribed the bricks and voila... a wall!
I really didn't want the wall to take longer to carve than the figure. So I kept the amount of brick breakage to just enough to show he broke through the wall.
In the photo below you'll notice the small piece I added to the "wall" to show some busted out bricks.
(The wall will be glued and screwed to the base.)
The more important issue I had to deal with is that I had to place the figure onto the wall so it would be strong enough not to be knocked off the wall over time.
Below is the mic stand base, "Saturday Night Live" Sign and the cassette tape.
With all the pieces started now for the main character.

I planned to "pin" his right foot to the stage and have his left foot raised as if he just landed on the wall. In the photo below his butt has not yet been cut in at his back side to "fit" into several bricks of the wall.
Below, after reducing his body, his head just didn't make it. It's too small!
So, off with his head!

I decided to try something that most character carvers do for a number of reasons, They carve the head separate from the body. They use a stem to fit into the chest and in many cases they do not secure the head so it can be moved into various positions. I decided to glue this one in place.
Of course (below) you see his head fits but I also had to do a little "surgery" where I cut too much of his right underarm away.
With just about all of my mistakes corrected let's begin the final stretch of this piece.

Can't forget the "Cheese head!
Oh, making the holes in the cheese was simple... painting the holes another story!
OK, mic, his body, boots, head, cheese head etc. all finished with a fine burr and rubbed for sealing.
Three cuts in his butt to fit to the bricks were added to settle him into the wall. Then, he will be screwed through the wall into his back side.
The mic stand and bricks are ready. (Of course, there must be some broken bricks that fell when he leaped onto the wall!)
Finally, sealed and waiting for painting. (On the sole of his right boot you can see the dowel hole for the pin that will secure him to the stage.)

The rear of the wall with the broken bricks on the floor. You can just about make out the hole for the screw that is securing him to the wall.

The "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" tape.
Naw, I didn't light the sign!

There had to be a mic cord! I used telephone gauge rubber coated wire pushed into his mic and secured in the block on the floor. The mic stand has a wood base, a coat hanger wire and a small round ferrule (if you will) for the height adjustment.

Costume checks out... and of course the name tag!
At last, "The Lambeau Leap... With a Twist!"