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.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Little Wooden Tour Guide Who Never Exaggerates!

The recipient of this carving has been teasing me about carving him a "voodoo doll" for months now. He doesn't really want a voodoo doll but he's watched as I've given carvings to other people and so he likes getting "on my case" (so to speak). I've kept him waiting for sometime now. Of late, he seemed to have given up teasing me, thinking he's never going to get one.
Well, I couldn't help but carve him one when I came upon the idea of this particular caricature. JZ has an uncanny knack for telling "tall tales" and made up stories at the drop of a hat. Therefore, Pinocchio is most fitting. The outfit is the Summer Tour Guide costume here at Disney World. JZ has been a tour guide for many years and his talent for telling stories comes in handy with children of all ages as he guides them about the parks. I hope you like "The Little Wooden Tour Guide Who Never Exaggerates!"

 We'll begin on the band saw to cut out the blank for this carving. The tupelo wood blank will be roughly 3" X 3' X 6" without the base.

 Below, the surface sketch is trimmed off to allow me to use it as a guide.

 On the front, guide lines are added to help for faster removal of extra wood to save some time.

At this point you can begin to visualize the overall carving. Working the entire piece at this point allows small corrections for positioning features, etc.

I try to leave small features (like hands or long noses in this case) for last to avoid breakage.

Below, except for his shoes, the piece is ready for final finishing and detailing. 

Carving pieces for Disney Cast Members usually involves the addition of their nametag.

Now it's time to figure out just how the piece will be mounted to the base. Sometimes they are screwed to the base and sometimes they are inlaid and glued. I decided to inlay this piece so the extra wood below his shoes can be trimmed.

Below, two coats of Minwax 209 stain are applied and allowed to dry for 24 hours. Prior to the
application of paint he will be burnished with pieces of brown paper bag to help smooth him out. 

A 1/8" dowel is used for his nose.

At last, color is added.

The Little Wooden tour guide is in full summer costume and ready for his new home.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chewbacca and the Game Board

"Chewbacca and the Game Board" will be headed home with another fellow Cast Member who happens to be connected to Chewbacca's character. Glen also loves board games. That is how this carving came to be.

Carved from a 4" X 3" X 7" piece of tupelo wood, "Chewbacca" seemed to work up quickly. (His entire body didn't really call for a great deal of detail... if you don't fuss over all the hair!) At first this carver was somewhat intimidated by "Chewbacca's" hair. It was decided that I'd simply run a rough burr over the "hair" and let it go at that.

As with all carvings they begin with a frontal sketch of the piece to be. At "Chewbacca's" feet is the piece of wood that will become the checkerboard. 
 Next, the sides are coped out on the band saw.
After the sides are coped the profile drawing will allow front and rear coping.
  Then the bulk reduction can take place.
Front/right side.

Rear/right side.
Being careful to maintain protruding features is a must. Pencil marks are added to prevent cutting too deeply into an area.
(It's always easier to reduce wood than add wood!)

The forehead had to be reduced quiet a bit.
The piece is somewhat more stocky than the actual person in the suit.
I prefer to secure glued pieces rather than just rely on the glue. You can see the wooden (toothpick) dowel protruding from the carvings left hand. The dowel will extend through his hand, board and into the thigh.

Once all the pieces; figure, base and checkerboard are fitted and given a final inspection, the painting begins.  Below, the figure and base have been stained.
I've been having good luck sealing the pieces with MinWax 209 clear wood stain. The base is given its finish stain. There's a variety of ways I mount pieces to the base. In Chewbacca's case, his right foot will be held in place by a long thin woodscrew and his left foot is secured by a 1/8" dowel glued into the left foot and base and glued. You can see the screw, two dowels and the wood plug to the left of the carving.

 The checkerboard was quite easy to work up. Using a rule, lines were marked at 1/8" spacing and drawn with a pencil. Then the lines were traced over with a dull edge metal rule to deepen the line without making too thin a line. The hole is for the dowel for additional strength to be held in place.
When it comes to painting and mixing colors, this carver is very much a beginner. Experimentation is on full display in all of my carvings.


"Chewbacca and the Game Board" may not look exactly like the real character but seeing as it's a "One of a Kind Wood Carving" I hope the recipient will still enjoy having him on his mantel.