Monday, March 9, 2015

"The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street"

This piece turned out to be the best "carving to recipient" matched piece I've had the pleasure of carving. With an idea from one of the recipient's friend, Marvin, this carving became a carving story I'll tell for years to come.

I like my carvings to be "connected" to the person I make the carving for. I knew I wanted to carve something for Julie but I needed help with an idea. I asked Marvin to give some thought to my request. In short order, Marvin sent me an email suggesting carving the "tiny Church" Julie and her husband were married in. Marvin's suggestion was perfect! An old Church (built in 1883), it's interior and exterior as it was when it was first built (except for exterior paint) and
just right for an intimate wedding. Julie and Larry, through a friendly priest, were introduced to the "All Saints Episcopal Church" and immediately fell in love with this little Church. It became a cornerstone of their lives as well as a major emotional connection for each of them. The little Church's character, charm and quaintness is forever etched into their hearts and minds.

I was on a mission. I studied the Church's web site and grew even more attached to the task at hand. Each person I carve a piece for is also given a PowerPoint Program of the progress of the piece. The song/music I select for each program is sought out with the same gusto as each carving and must closely match the theme or idea behind the piece.

Everything came together as no other carving for me. The end result confirmed "The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street" is a highlight of my carvings over the years. Julie was deeply touched by both the presentation and the carving. It will have a special place in Julie and Larry's home and hearts.

This is the carving story of "The Little Church on the Corner of Clark Street."

 The little Church as photographed in 1883.
In a most recent photo the little Church appears nearly unchanged except for the exterior paint and walk ways. Its interior is just as it was when it was built. The little Church proudly displays its turn of the century interior exposed ceiling beams, trusses and wall studs. Adding to that, the wood has a rich golden patina that is aged to perfection. 

 I started with a 4" X 4" X 12" piece of Tupelo wood.

After "mapping out" the piece the roughing-out stage can begin.

 Given the building's exterior design, much of the roughing-out was performed with a large rough burr rather than a band saw.

Along the way, reference lines needed to be redrawn to keep me from cutting too deep into "exterior walls," etc.
 There's always the expectation that a piece can be completed from a single piece of wood. However, this piece needed an "extension" to carve out the stairs and ramp.
 Guess work and "eye-balling" the details goes hand in hand with many of my pieces. 

When trying to work out the details, it helps me to skip around and work in small areas to minimize frustration and also keep the details in perspective.

I carve nearly every bit of a piece with a rotary tool using various burrs. I basically use a blade to help square corners and trimming rough burr edges.
 Windows are left for the very end.
The window trim moldings are thin and it would be too easy to cut into one with the burr used to flatten the exterior walls.

 Each carving needs to be "personalized" with one or more "add-on's." In this case a sign was added with the wedding couple's names on it.

 Sealing the finished piece with Natural wood stain permits the wood to accept acrylic color without making the grain swell. This is the first piece that the base will be both painted and stained. That means that the Natural wood stain needed to be applied where the color will be added and NOT where the darker base stain will be applied. I must admit, I overstepped the boundaries at the edge of the grass and I paid the price. While applying the dark stain it would not penetrate where the Natural stain was. Let's just say it added a bit more "character" to the piece!

 When the piece is ready for sealing and color its all I can do to stop working on it. The finished product is in site.
 The Church is 10" long and 5" wide. The base is 16" long and 6" wide.

 The finished piece.
The All Saint's Episcopal Church
of Enterprise, Florida
 as it is today.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"The Pocket S & W 460XVR"

I was asked to consider carving this gun actual size. However, as you get to know me, I enjoy "developing" a carving to personalize it for the recipient. I add or tweak something to make the gift a little bit more special. In the case of the S & W 460XVR it's very large and looks like something "Dirty Harry" would carry around. I wanted this piece to be unique. I went small. Even though I found it frustrating trying to get a piece of wood to look like a highly machined majestic object, its final dimensions make the piece "cool!"

The Planning stage.
Lets try to make this beast "BIG" for its size. I selected a 1/4"=1" ratio.
The "roughing out" stage

  Now to tediously work the piece down with a Mastercarver rotary tool.

Fine grit burrs will be used to slowly reduce the piece down to size.
 A knife is used to remove most of the rounded edges.
Fine sandpaper was used to reduce the barrel and provide a "machined" appearance overall.
 The mount for the pistol is roughly carved out to make it look "rustic." I also wanted the owner to be able to remove the gun. The gun "sits" partially in the carved out shape at an angle rather than a snug fit in the cut-out. 
The mounting base is roughed out and a friend suggested "you made a nice rock." That stuck in my head. I applied a grey acrylic paint wash to the "rock."
The "rock" base is glued and screwed to the base as well.
The gun is almost chrome like in appearance. I decided to try spray painting the body of the pistol with bright silver spray paint. It worked out much better than I anticipated.
The black rear site and handle will be masked off.

 The letters/numbers were relief carved.

Below is the finished pistol and the template I tried to stay close to for an accurate ratio of 1/4" to 1" but as you can see the piece is larger than the template.
 The carving ready for sealing with Clear Satin water based Polycrylic.
The bright silver on the "metal" of the piece is not water-based so there will be no clear satin applied to it.

The finished piece

Now that's kinda cool!
If you want to see what this thing really looks like, click here: