Saturday, November 21, 2015


"Rudy" is a "Yorkie" owned by a fellow Cast Member. "Rudy" is getting up in age and has had his share of "bumps and bruises" as his owner, Teri says. "Rudy" is a part of the family and will always be a special part of Teri and her family's lives. I hope this carving will act as a reminder of "Rudy's" love, loyalty and companionship for years to come.

 First, the rough sketch.
Then, some time on the band saw to save time.

The fun begins! Trying to leave all the "hair" on the piece that "sticks" out.
 "Rudy" is carved out of basswood.

As "Rudy" begins to shape up, I notice I've made his nose too short. I used two photos of "Rudy" taken from Teri's desk. I also used "Lilly's photos (our own Yorkie) to help me with side and rear views.

"Rudy" is sealed for painting.

"Rudy" taught me more than a few lessons. First, to leave more wood in areas to create longer hair. Second, I've got a lot to learn about mixing and applying color!

 The name "Rudy" was my Wife Pat's idea. The name was added last. It was carved out, pegged and glued to the base.

I like to add screws and glue to the piece to hold it to the base.

"Rudy" and other caricatures with lengthy hair tend to be quite frustrating for this carver. "Rudy" sat idle on my carving bench more than a few days as I wrestled with many of my frustrations of carving too much off here or there as well as trying to get his color acceptable.
In all, I'm pleased with the end results... thanks to lots of suggestions and approval from my wife!
The real "Rudy!"
I'd like to think I made "Rudy" look younger!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"The American Idol Experience, Lego Mickey and a Broadway Song"

The title sure is a "mouthful!" But, it works. Thanks to the ideas from a friend of the recipient, there is no other way to cover the uniqueness of the piece than to carve what Jeff likes. Jeff, the recipient, loves Broadway musicals, Legos and worked as the manager for "The American Idol Experience" in Hollywood Studios, Disney World. While focusing in on what to carve it made sense to incorporate all three of Jeff's passions.

Here's how it all started... with a 4"X4"X12" block of basswood. Because of the "layers" of this piece it was necessary to draw all sides of the piece. Normally, I can get away with a front view followed by "guide marks" on the rest of the sides. Below is the left corner of the front and left sides.
 Front view
 Left side

With all the sides marked the reduction begins. Mickey will be carved to appear to be made of Legos. That provided a little comfort knowing I could be a bit "rougher" on Mickey.
The reduction of the sides to make the Marquee was more than a little frustrating. Basswood doesn't carve well with burrs. It "fuzzes" terribly.

Below, you can see just how badly the grain is "roughed " by the burrs.
 Working the "layers" of this piece was quite different from what I'm used to carving. It was also quite tricky to keep track of the three "layers" of the Marquee as it is reduced to size. To complicate things even more the left and right sides needed to be the same.

 This is a mere sampling of the "fluff" that covered my carving bench.
 Here you can see just how much "flattening" and smoothing is ahead of me.

Now to add the lettering!
 Trying to make each piece out of a single piece of wood becomes more than a little challenging.
This view is the right side. I carved the words "EXPERIENCE" on the left side with little problems. However, the right side was a different story. I ended up removing the entire word and adding a flat piece of wood to re-do the word on the right side.

Below, wood is added to redo the vertical word. The new piece is on the right side (bottom of photo). the left side is protected with a tongue depressor.
(I know, I've got to purchase a couple of light weight wood clamps!)
 At last! The effort was worth it. Now for details.

 Mickey worked up quickly and was fitted into place. When gluing one piece onto another piece I prefer to leave wood on the bottom of the piece that can be traced and routed out. That gives me surface area for glue and/or a screw.

 The pieces are treated with #209 stain to help hold the grain raising to a minimum.

The piece is ready for color!
Including the base, the piece stands just under 10" tall.

"The American Idol Experience, Lego Mickey and a Broadway Song" marks a bit of a milestone in my carving. It is my 50th piece since 2009.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"I'm Just a Stetson Hatter, Beer Drinkin' PLAID Kinda Gal"

As you can tell by the title there's more than you think about how the idea for this piece developed.

Let's start with a 4" X 4" by 6" block of basswood.
Then, a front sketch for the front to back coping to make the template. 

A little work on the band saw and Minnie is ready to delineate the side view.
(It never fails, I always spend a great deal of time drawing a reasonably accurate front view. Then, I end up with "depth scratches" on the sides and back.)
If I'm lucky, I can cut off the complete front view. That allows me to set it in place and give me a fairly good estimate of where I'm cutting.

The Stetson hat and Minnie's ears gave me quite a challenge. I figured she's a cartoon and it's my carving, I'll just make her ears go right through her hat!
("Artistic License!")

 After you see how the piece develops I'll explain how the hat, mug, crop and outfit came to be part of this piece
I've done one other pair of boots and even this character (The Disney VIT Tour Guide) before so I tried to alter the piece because I prefer not to repeat characters. However, tying all these items into one piece made it all worth while.
The actual boot behind Minnie is one of my Father's boots when he was a young man. He called himself "The Whispering Ranger." He sang requested songs on WESX AM radio in his 20's in the late ''30s and early '40s. I'm proud to be able to still have his boots. They are very small and in time gave him lots of problems with his feet. But they looked great.
(I plan to put together a post about my Dad's story at a later date.)
At first I wanted to carve Minnie's boots just like Dad's but I decided to go with "Cowgirl" boots instead.

As Minnie comes together you can visualize a few of the items in her title.
She's sealed and ready for paint!
And now.... the rest of the story....
The recipient of this piece is obviously a Disney Cast Member. She was a VIP Tour Guide and has a number of miniatures of these "guides" on her desk. Hence the PLAID outfit and crop.
Her friend (and one of my "sleuths") told me Melanie is working toward her Master's Degree at Stetson University here in Florida. The University Mascot is the "Stetson Hatter."
 And that's how the cowboy hat and boots fit into the piece.
The real "kicker" is the beer mug! One of my "sleuths" told me that Melanie frequents the Town Tavern for a beer or two after class. In fact she's managed to be awarded her own "mug" to be placed on the "Wall of Fame" in the establishment.
Now you know just how the title and the carving ideas developed into,
"I'm Just a Stetson Hatter, Beer drinkin' PLAID Kinda Gal" came to be!