Monday, April 24, 2017

The Airborne Runnin' Chugger

The ideas for this piece stem from the recipients friends. Chris is in the Airborne, loves to run and has been known to frequent more than a few Craft Beer establishments.
First off, we have the runner in military athletic attire sporting his Campaign hat with a keg of his favorite brew strapped to his back. The keg, I call the "P.I.R.P! Which stands for, Personal Imbibing Runner's Pack! Of course, the tank and carrier are molded to the individual. (You'll notice that the keg is not round at the top of his back.) To continue the storyline, the P.I.R.P. has a special internal regulator that allows the individual to draw in the elixir without the highly compressed liquid being forced into the drinker. It works similarly to the SCUBA tank only with a liquid.
The carving starts out as a 3"x4"x7" block of tupelo. Centerlines are identified on the block and an image of the piece is outlined.

Recently, I've been trimming the entire image from the face of the block about 1/8" thick and then edging it out so I can use the piece as a template. In this case, I used the template for the left and right side of the figure.
 Below, the template has been carefully trimmed and then outlined onto the block.

Next the band saw removes as much of the bulk from the figure as possible. 
 Much of the bulk can now be removed with a burr. This step begins to bring out the overall figure.

 Here, you can see by simply flipping the template, the right side can easily be outlined.
  From this point on the figure begins the reducing and finish shaping stages


This is the first piece I've carved that will stand on one leg. I came up with the idea to insert a metal rod into the foot/leg the runner will be positioned on. The concern is that the leg may not be strong enough to withstand very much handling. The runners left leg is somewhat thicker than his right leg. Having to run a 3/16" drill up his leg to his thigh confirmed my decision to leave some thickness to his leg. (After all this work, I really didn't want the drill cutting out from the side of his leg!)

The rod is inlaid flush into the gluing extension at the bottom of the sneaker.

The base and runner are sealed and ready for color. The thin plastic tube between the pieces is the drinking tube for the keg.

Here's the finished piece, "The Airborne Runnin' Chugger."



Friday, March 3, 2017

Cheryl the HandyWOman

Thanks to the suggestions from one of my office "spies" (Debby), "Cheryl the HandyWOman" is going home to a fellow Cast Member who has taken a liking to home projects. Working on projects around the house has become a wonderful change of pace and extremely rewarding for Cheryl.
For this wood carver, the most rewarding part of selecting the piece to carve is to "personalize" the caving to fit the recipient. In Chery's case, I went back in time. Back to my old black and white TV days. In the '60s & 70's I remembered an actress who was in a commercial wearing coveralls. Thanks to Google, I searched and found "Josephine the Plumber." Josephine was a wonderful actress named Jane Withers. Her commercial was about Comet Cleanser but she is a perfect character for this carving.


The carving is sketched onto a block of tupelo carving wood and ready for "roughing out."

Trying not to waste too much wood I decided to move this piece to an edge of the block to allow me to save blocks of good carving wood. That meant I had to "shave" the drawing off the face of the block, trim the thin drawing of the figure and then retrace it to the right. By doing so I am able to save usable block pieces rather than throw away the trimmings.

The trimmed sketch offers a template that can be placed over the front or back of the figure for reference points.


  Originally, I planned to have her hand resting on her hip. However, seeing that Cheryl is a "HandyWOman" a hammer in her hand seemed much more appropriate.
The hammer was a quick work-up. A 1/8" dowel and a piece of scrap worked nicely.
 The hammer is fitted to her hand.

 Once the roughing stage is over the fun begins. Getting a chance to finally bring out the details is most rewarding.
 "Cheryl the HandyWOman" is to be inlaid to the base. You can see that I remained true to my template but I still tend to leave some features (hands, head) somewhat too thick or thin.
I believe some carvings, to be appreciated, will need to be handled so I tend to leave my carvings somewhat thicker when carving certain features of a piece.

 She's sealed and ready for paint.

I hope you like "Cheryl the HandyWOman." 



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Lady on the Court

This little lady is going home with a good friend of ours. Linda is an avid tennis player and all around great sport willing to attempt just about any task that comes her way. "The Lady on the Court" is not intended to be a likeness of Linda. As I prefer to carve caricatures, this carving is more of a symbol of Linda's exuberance and desire to help everyone and anyone she comes in contact with. It is also a token of our appreciation for all she's done for us.
We begin our story of "The Lady on the Court" as a block of tupelo wood and a sketch.

Next, we trim the piece. 
On some pieces, I'm lucky to be able to skive off the sketch to allow for reference marks to be added to the blank.
Now to work the piece into the basic shape.

At about this point, the tennis racket needed to be carved out.

The racket and ball worked up quickly. However, positioning it into the players hand was quite tedious.
 You'll notice the handle is square in these two photos. I ended up rounding the handle only to have it break on me as I fit it into the hand. The racket took enough time to make so I decided to save this one and forego making a new one. I realized the tupelo handle may not be the best way to correct the problem. I decided to use a 1/8" dowel for a stronger wood grain. My plan worked however, I needed to extend the dowel into the bottom of the racket as you'll see in the finished piece.

Continuing on, the piece begins to show more definition and features.

 The unknown for this carver is how thin can I make features before they don't stand the test of time and handling. Features like fingers and how thin and legs and arms can be carved were a concern.

Pressing on, her face needed to be thinned out. I prefer carving caricatures simply because their features can be very forgiving. Trying to accurately capture the features of a real person may requie a tad more ability than this carver posses.
In time the piece begins to take shape and smoothing and shaping becomes the fun part of completing a piece. In the photos below you'll also notice the extended wood below her sneakers is how she will be inlaid and glued to the base.

Her tennis racket is fitted and she's positioned onto the base.
You'll notice a "patch" on her left thigh. She needed a "skin graft" as the result of a more aggressive burr digging too deep into the soft grain.
Thanks to my wife, she is sporting a matching lime green top and skirt. My wife is most helpful when I need help with colors.
Below, you can see the dowel running through the yoke of the racket and into the hand.
"The Lady on the Court" is in play and smashing the ball down the line.