Thursday, December 15, 2011

(most) Christmas carving done for this year

Well, sorry I haven't posted much in the past few months. I have been doing a LOT of Christmas carving. mostly ornaments. I did mostly Santas and quite a few different angels, and some other things. I'm happy to say I sold quite a few too (see photos below). There seems to be no real trend to what people like. I try to make all different things, simple, odd, traditional, natural, colorful. It all seems to sell- eventually. Eye of the beholder, I guess. I will post more about this when the dust settles because there's still one big weekend coming up for last-minute sales. I took all my Christmas stuff out of my etsy shop and moved them to the local craft consignment shop. I have a much better chance there at this point. Interesting thing about etsy is, when people think they won't have time for it to be shipped before Christmas, everything just stops. That's about now, although I did sell a wooden spoon yesterday. Next year will be worse with the USPS threatening to add a day or more to First Class shipping time.

What I think is very positive about these sales is that people are willing to buy wood carving, with all the less-expensive options they have. That makes me feel good about what I do and about the appreciation that many people have for what we do. I was happy I decided to start in August with my carving for Christmas, which was a lesson I learn from the previous year, but next year, I'll know to start even sooner. Last week I decided to try something new for my ornaments and for my next post, I'll write about those. Maybe I'll even have a video, but certainly some pictures. Until then, all the best and have a great Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Site of the Week -John Bryan

I want to apologize for no posting very much lately. I have been very busy carving, but I've been focused on Christmas work for my etsy shop. I thought I would at least post a Site of the Week entry. I came across the site of John Bryan's work. I especially enjoy his base relief work. Have a look...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feedburner Added

In case there are those of you who would like to "follow" by email, that is, get notices to your email when new posts are added, I have added a service that does just that. Please feel free to add you name to the list. I don't post on a regular basis, so when I do, you'll find out. Anyone want to test it out and let me know how it works? (I'll post something soon after this, so we can do a test.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How Do I Measure Success?

It's been just over a year since I started The Sunday Woodcarver. I had some goals in mind and I hope I have reached some of them. But I feel far from accomplished as a carver. That was never my goal. I don't remember saying my goal was to be the best carver in the world or the best blogger on the web. But I am happy with how far I have come in a year.

When I started this blog, my goal was to become a better carver and to share my journey with carvers of like mind. I had hoped I could also sustain the blog over time, which I why I chose carving as a theme, because I knew I would have a sustained interest. I have gained a few followers, although that was never a specific goal. I have had over 20,000 pageviews (not counting mine) and I guess that was a goal although I never knew what to expect and I don't even know if 20,000 views in a year is a lot. I guess for a little carving blog it's a good number. With all those followers and views there have been very few comments left and I wish there were more. Honestly, every comment means a lot and lets me know there are actual people out there who are interested in what I have to share.

Along the way, I set up a YouTube account and started adding videos of my adventures. They too have gained a fair amount of followers. It has been a real learning experience to see who is interested in what kind of project. I don't know if I have said this before, but I don't consider my blog or videos to be instructional per se, but rather a chance for viewers to see how one person tackle a project in a specific way and show what I have learned since I got serious about carving. I guess that is teaching, but that is not what I intended. If so, I would edit out my mistakes, but I think it's helpful to see someone try a project or technique for the first time and figure out how to get out of trouble when that inevitably happens.

Of course, the original aim was to get myself focused on getting better by carving at least once a week (Sunday). Now there's seldom a day that goes by that I don't do some carving. And for sure, that goal has been met. I can say without hesitation that if you carve every day, or at least a few days every week, you will better at it. Thanks for being part of my journey!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carving a Bowl from a Log - part 2

Well, this project wasn't a complete success, but I did learn a lot. I went too far with the wood removal and some parts of the bowl ended up being too thin and even cracked near the edge. I also got some feedback about using spalted wood. Of course, this led me to do some research. Here is a good article from a woodturner who offers some useful information. I think it is important to understand the condition of the wood with regard to safety with wooden food utensils and bowls. But I found it interesting that the fungal growth is stopped when the wood is under 25%. I also use a polymerizing finish, so that offers protection as well. Do your research.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carving a Bowl from a Log - part 1

I recently acquired an angle grinder and some attachments from King Arthur Tools. These allow me to remove a lot a wood fast from logs and lumber to make all manner of bowls, spoons and whatever else I want to carve. I must learn to harness all this raw power, but I'm having fun learning. Check out my first effort.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My new favorite wood - Ginkgo

...or Gingko, either spelling is considered correct. Native to China and known for it's medicinal powers, Ginkgo Biloba also grows well in the North American climate.A huge one fell nearby when Hurricane Irene came through. I have posted about this a couple times earlier (check the archives), but I have only been using it to make wooden spoons up until very recently. I wanted to know how it might compare to my favorite carving wood, basswood. First let me say I also enjoy carving aspen and cottonwood (the tree, not the bark). Both of those have similar qualities to basswood - light color, fine grain, hold detail, relatively easy to carve. I find the aspen and cottonwood a little hard to work than basswood, but it might well be I have had some very soft variety of basswood. But back to Ginkgo. First, I really love the light caramel color and the delicate light streaks. I am finding it fairly easy to carve, with just a hint more resistance to my blade than basswood, but with a very sharp knife, not difficult to carve at all. A sharp tool leaves a nice sheen to the cut. It sands and finishes beautifully. I have added some photos of a little rustic santa ornament I just finished. I was able to hog off the waste very easily and quickly without any tendency to split away the way cedar, for example, might. Of course, I did have to mind the grain direction, but that's easier to actually see (more visible than basswood). Carve details was equally easy and quite enjoyable. An oil finish brings out the very best quality of Ginkgo, though this piece also has an antique treatment of some umber artist paint thinned with mineral spirits. I hope you can get your hands on some of this wonderful sometime and give it a try. I have quite a bit, maybe I'll list a few pieces on eBay if someone shows interest.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Site of the Week - James Atkin

"April Garden" by James Atkin
One of the styles of carving for which I have great respect and fascination is high relief carving. I have tried a few low relief carvings, and that is difficult enough. But with high relief carving, a whole new set of challenges arise. You must be extremely aware of grain direction and very thin edges of leaves, feathers, petals and wings. If you're like me and the courage to dive into a high relief project has yet to be summoned, you can at least enjoy looking at photos of some masterfully done work by other carvers. An excellent example I came across recently is on a site featuring James Atkin. Check out the gallery of work on his site and I think you'll agree his work is beautiful, balanced and very well executed. Something to aspire to for sure.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Giraffes

It's a great feeling to sell your work and also to make gifts of you work, but when your work ends up as part of someone's special occasion it's the best! My daughter's childhood friend, who I've seen grow up and become a lovely woman recently got married. She requested my daughter and I collaborate on the design and carving of a topper for her wedding cake. Her favorite animals are giraffes and she wanted two giraffes kissing to be the feature. I was a little nervous because she has been carefully planning her special day for several years and a lot of people I know were going to be part of the occasion. Add to that the fact that I have not carved a lot of animals and never giraffes. And I haven't carved anything that would be something to put atop a wedding cake. But that was her wish and we did our best to make her wish come true. Before it was all over, some cursing took place, but only in the privacy of my shop. I chose a piece of spruce I had lying around. I got this from a carving club meeting and, honestly, did not now what to use it for. I have an aversion to carving softwoods in general. I knew my daughter would insist on having it sanded smooth for painting - also not my style. You can see where the cursing will come from. But in the end it all worked out. My daughter did a wonderful job on the painting and her friend was more than happy. It was my gift to her. Better than a blender in my opinion!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hurricane Spoons part 1

Yesterday I was about to gather up the last of the Ginkgo tree that fell during Hurricane Irene. All together I was able to collect some ash, ginkgo, silver maple and sassafras, all suitable woods for spoon making. I got a little obsessed with the ginko tree because I know there won't be an opportunity like that any time soon. Unfortunately, the neighbors got to the pile of cut wood before me and all that was left was four HUGE pieces of the trunk. But I went after it with three wedges and was able to break it down to piece I could load in the van and bring home. The the left side of the photo shows just one piece split apart! I now have a much greater appreciation of the power of the wedge as a tool.
7 Maple spoons and 1 Sassafras spoon
5 Ginkgo spoons
I have to say, carving ginkgo is quite enjoyable. It has a creamy feel and sands well. I have yet to complete the ginkgo spoons I carved, so I don't know how they'll take to finish. I have finished several spoons of maple and there one sassafras spoon in the photo. I also enjoyed carving that one. I have ween working hard to get a few batches of these done for a local craft fair coming up soon. They seen to be a popular item, so for now, that's how I'll be spending my carving energies. As for my designs - I work intuitively and work to create organic shapes that fit nicely in my hand. When I make one I really like, I turn it into a cardboard pattern and routinely interchange handle and bowl designs based on the size and shape of the blank I'm working with. I like working with small pieces split off of large pieces rather than cutting blanks from branches. That way I can work more freely and with green wood. After I rough out the shape and carve the bowl, I hang them up for a few days. They go from 25% moisture to 7-8% in a couple days without splitting. I'm pretty happy with that deal. I'm sill experimenting with finishes, but getting close to my own "ideal". I'll discuss that in a later post.

P.S. I added the Ginkgo spoons after writing this post. They sand and finish beautifully!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Comic Book Art to Simplify Carving Humans

If you carve any kind of human form, whether it be realistic, semi-realistic or caricature you will eventually have to carve hands and , assuming your figure is clothed, cloth folds and wrinkles. I mention these two things specifically because they are the two things I have fold most challenging. Not so much with regard to being able to actually carve these things, but to be able to visualize them.  Both hands and fabric folds change drastically with even the slightest change in body position and gesture, so there is no way to just memorize a few techniques like you can with ears or noses. Even if you use the simplest couple of v-cuts to indicate folds, you still need to know where to put them and which direction they go. If you carve mostly Santas, you can actually get away with all your hands being mittens. But eventually, you need to learn about how to make fingers. The only way to learn to carve any part of a human is to study it and use some reference photos or drawings. I have found that all but the most realistic carvings are more like simple comic book art that photos. Check out these two videos by comic book artist Mark Crilley: How to Draw Clothing Wrinkles and Folds and How to Draw Hands, Two Ways. They are very simple and clear tutorials that might help us to better sketch and then carve hands and fabric folds. There are other videos and art blogs that show similar techniques and can further help us to understand how to visualize details we need for better carvings. I hope they are as useful to you as they are to me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cache of Spoons

Maple spoon blanks hang to dry.
Since the hurricane that hit last week, I have been gathering pieces of fallen trees and branches. One special find was a beautiful maple tree that has light, clear wood perfect for the kitchen spoons I make. I found by cutting them out while green I could avoid losing a lot of wood to splitting. Once cut to shape, they dry very quickly. Most have gone from 20+% to 7-10% in one day without checking.

During the five days we were without electricity on my block, we got to know our neighbors a little better. Each morning we'd meet at the end of the driveway of one friend and share coffee and our hopes of being back to normal. I thought I might make a spoon for each of them to commemorate those beautiful summer mornings together. The rest will go in my Etsy shop!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blog of the Week - Mary May [again]

Back in May, I posted a link to a video of an episode of The Woodwrights Shop with Mary May demonstrating her Old World carving skills. She has since started a blog... Mary May - Woodcarver. Even if you are not carving in this architectural style, there's still a lot to be learned from her blog. Check it out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Activity - follow up

Yes, Irene hit us. Not really that hard, but in a way that left hundreds of thousand on Long Island with out power, cable, phone or internet. Five days for my neighborhood. The damage was mostly downed trees taking out power lines. considering how many were flooded as well, I feel pretty lucky. I was able to get a fair amount of carving done and collected tons of wood for walking sticks, spoons and other carvings. Today I found a huge ginko tree down. i met the poor homeowner, whose car was crushed by the tree. He said I could come back and cut as much of the wood as I wanted. I took home a sample and it carves pretty well, at least green. So I might grab what I can because it's a pretty rare find. most of what fell was oak trees ans locust. Neither are my choice of good carving wood. But I did get some birch and sassafras and lots of sticks for canes and walking sticks. I hope all the rest of you out there got off as easy as I did.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Activity

We're bracing for Hurricane Irene.  Everything is tied down, camping stove, lanterns and flashlights on standby. Worst case situation - no electricity for a couple days, at least I have my muscle-powered knives and gauges here and I can while away the windy hours with some carving projects. Maybe even catch up on my backlog of painting. Nice to have a low tech hobby. Stay safe everyone on the Eastern seaboard.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shop tip - cord labels

Here's a little quickie shop tip. It's so simple yet so handy. I forget where I picked this idea up from, but I filed it in the back of my mind, knowing it might come in handy one day. Lately I have been using more power tools than I have outlets near my workbench and I find it annoying to have to guess which cord I'm unplugging, especially since I switch between tools a lot. Besides being a really useful idea, recycling the little tabs from bread bags fits in with my philosophy of give things most people throw away "an extra life".  I have this 4-gang box suspended above my bench which I prefer to bending down every time I need to change a plug. Plus it keeps cords from getting tangled where my feet like to be.
This idea works really well in my office too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Site of the Week - Chip Carved Eggs

Gary's finished eggs
Well, this is not exactly a Site of the Week post since it's been several weeks since I've posted at all. It's been a couple of hot weeks and I haven't felt like doing much carving. I have been researching a lot of projects to work on and I decided to order a couple basswood eggs and see what I could make out of them. In browsing Google images for inspiration, I found a number of interesting chip-carved eggs. Although my original intent was to carve some small, egg-shaped Santas (which I still plan on doing) these chip-carved eggs are quite intriguing. This one in particular, called Chip Carving Basswood Eggs by Gary at The Carver's Edge site caught my fancy. The site itself is somewhat underwhelming, with a lot of pages "temporarily closed", but the layout techniques are well worth studying. I might try simplifying some of thee designs for my first couple tries. We'll see how that goes. maybe I'll do a video to document my experience, though it will most certainly not be a tutorial. Stay cool.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Gnome is a Lady

Well, a customer who purchased one of my gnomes asked if there was a female gnome. I thought about that and realized I have yet to carve a female figure of any kind. So I decided to give it a whirl. I'm pretty happy with the result. Here are photos before and after a coat of paint.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

3 Olde World Santas

Here are my Olde World Santas from my previous video, using the corner carving approach made from a blank cut on the band saw jig I demonstrated in my last post. This is a very interesting style of carving that is much more dramatic than most I have seen. Quite a few carvers have tried this one and I've seen a number of very different results. Anyway, here are mine before and after a paint job. enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday's Are Different Now

When I started this blog, back in October of 2010, I had made a decision to do more carving. It seemed a good idea to work at it on a more regular basis, so I decided to sit an carve a minimum of once a week, every week. I chose Sunday and hence the name of the blog. But since then, I have carved much more than once a week and now it's a rare day that I don't carve or paint a carving. The results have been quite remarkable. I have become a much better carver! That was the goal, but I never expected so much improvement in such a short time. I don't mean this as a boast, but as encouragement to those who, like me, love the art and craft of wood carving and want to be able to carve more and more challenging projects.

So how have my Sunday's changed? Now, they are days for me to set aside "production" and experiment, develop new ideas and video some of my work. I've learned a lot this year and continue to do so. I hope that never ends.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rip Jig for Band Saw

This jig is useful for ripping blocks safely on the diagonal. This one is a big improvement on my old prototype.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gothic Ornament part 2

This video shows the actual carving of the ornament. I forgot to mention the wood is basswood.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gothic Ornament part 1

Here's another little project I'm calling a Gothic Ornament, for want of a more appropriate name. I figure the arches give it the "gothic" look. It looks simple, but it's really about working grain and knife skill to get crisp ridges and intersections. It's actually a little tricky to pull off with softer wood like basswood. Accurate layout for the template is key. enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Olde World Santas - my version

I decided to give the "Olde World Santa" (from WCI-Holiday 2007 Issue 41) a try. I like the boldness of this character. The lacy, through-cut beard is a fun challenge and the seriously wrinkled face and hat gives him a wonderful quality not typical of the traditional Santa with his round, rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. He could easily be a wizard or a mountain man with a few alterations. The eyes were a challenge, at least for me and I feel I will have to carve a pile of these before I master them.

I'll be honest, I dd not really try or even want to follow Mark Gargac's process to the letter and once I got started, I just kept referring to the photos of his finished work. That let me find my own way by exploring different tools and techniques. My video here is part 1 of 2 and only shows certain details of techniques I explored, but does not chronicle my efforts start to finish. My feeling is that this is Mr. Gargac's process and design so I didn't feel I should present it as my own. But I hope you'll get something from watching my videos that may be useful for this and other face carvings.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Site of the Week: Knife Sharpening Blog

I was searching around the internet looking for information on making gouges and I came across today's featured site. It's called Knife Sharpening Blog, but there is much more to this blog than just knife sharpening information. As and example, this essay on Whittling vs Wood Carving is interesting. Master knife sharpener, Len Q explores a variety of topics from gardening to fishing to rock climbing and even carving jack-o-lanterns, to name a few. I think there's a little something for everyone in this blog.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'll Be Back...

I can see by my blog stats that folks have been visiting my blog but I have been somewhat distracted and have gotten behind in posting. That's not a good thing for a blogger to do because eventually I stand the risk of loosing the audience I worked so hard to build. The truth is, I have been carving a lot but not things that can go on the blog. One thing I have done is a number of walking sticks for my shop and they don't photograph very well. Second, I've been carving multiples of things I have already done videos for, so no point in repeating those. This year, I've decided to get a running head start on things for Christmas, so those are many multiples of the same. I do have a few fresh ideas to share and they'll be coming up soon, but with many outside activities scheduled for May and June, the time needed to make videos just hasn't been there. I will try to take better care of this blog and post some sketches and a video in thee next couple days. So thanks for coming back time and again and please tell your carving friends and clubs about me and hopefully we'll all be better carvers for it.

For those of you who have been affected by all the terrible forces of nature hitting our midwest so hard this year, I hope you and yours are safe and can be so rebuilding your lives. Carving seems trivial compared to some of the devastation I've seen happening this year. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Site of the Week: Snake Sticks

I've been carving some walking sticks and doing research for different ideas. This site is awesome and the snake-on-a-stick looks like a real challenge. Maybe one day...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Carving a Spiral Part 3: Extras

Some carvings I've made using the spiral layout technique and some ways to layout on a round piece.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Site of the Week - Mary May on The Woodwright's Shop

Here's a great video of Mary May, a traditional carver showing how to layout and carve an Acanthus form. enjoy!

Here's a link to her web site: Cornerstone Creations

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I have a niece who always comments on my carvings and has, on several occasions asked me to carve something for her. When I saw her at Easter, she again asked me to carve something for her. I asked her "what is your favorite animal?" and she answered, without hesitation, "panda!" She was born in China, so that really wasn't a surprise. I didn't make her any promises, but thee wheels started turning and I started looking for reference pictures. I'm trying to remember if I have carved any animals at all, beside eagle heads and I was a little nervous at to how a bear might come out (which is why I didn't offer to do this when she asked). Well, I surprised myself and I think I found a new interest! Here are pictures of the outcome, all painted. I still need to put on some clear finish and then add some "shiny" to the eyes and nose.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carving a Spiral : Layout

Here's a video tutorial based on a technique I learned from Woodcarving Illustrated #33

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Simple Triquetra part 3

This is the last part for this video series. There's not a lot to show in demonstrating this one, but it's a deceivingly tricky project. Worth trying for the knife skills , grain reading and spacial perception needed to complete it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Simple Triquetra part 2

In this segment, I carve the corners to establish high and low points on the carving.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Simple Triquetra part 1

A fairly simple project this time. It's a project that does take some skills, but among Celtic designs, which get quite complex, this pattern is simple. It's a good project to keep your knife skills "honed". I'm making this one from some Spanish Cedar I had. Soft, but prone to splitting, this wood's characteristics add to the challenge.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wizard Walking Stick (completed)

Finally, here are some picture of the completed Wizard Walking Stick I did a while back. After much deliberation, I decided on a finish of Watco Danish Oil (natural) and two coats of  Spar Marine Varnish over that for protection against the elements. I buffed the thoroughly dried project on a lambswool buffing wheel. For the bottom tip, I secured a length of copper pipe fitting with some two-part epoxy. It hasn't seen any hiking action yet, but it will this summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Preparing Walking Sticks for Drying

Here are some tips I have developed for cleaning up some sticks I have gathered which will someday become walking sticks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Future Walking Sticks

Lately I find myself noticing any falling branches and trees along the road. It's become quite a distraction, so I had to go on a stick hunt to get that out of my system. I keep thinking it will get too overgrown in a few weeks and finding a stash of stick will be easier now. So the other day, I packed my saw and pruning tool and headed out to some empty lots in the are. The photo shows the pile I came home with. Making these into walking sticks will likely take me quite some time, but when I get to it, at least I'll have stock. So now to clean them up, de-bark a few and set them to dry. Meanwhile, I'll try to get my wife to understand I haven't completely lost my mind.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Walnut Lovespoon Part 1

Back on March 14, my post Site of the Week-Celtic Love Spoons, I mention a carving site with an especially graceful spoon design. I've always wanted to give this one a try. So here is my version as a short video series...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Carving a Pine Lizard - Part 5

This is the last video on this project. I have completed the first level of sanding to 80grit. No need to discuss sanding beyond this video. I'll post a photo of the finished piece when I get that done.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Carving a Pine Lizard - Part 3

In this episode, carving on the body continues with knife work. Today I ran into some problems which I'll show in the next part. Lack of forethought begins to pay back with dividends. Chalk it up to a learning experience. (read: oops!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Carving a Pine Lizard - Part 2

In part 2, I try a few methods for getting rid of some bulk material. A re-purposed laminate trimmer gets used.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Carving a Pine Lizard - Part 1

I didn't give this project a lot of forethought. I just saw a piece of wood in my scrap box and had an urge to carve and decided to do this lizard. I didn't do any research other than to download a few images of lizards and decided to do this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Dowel Joint for Woodcarving

Here's just one method for using a dowel to join pieces for a wood carving. i have used this many times with success.

A Lull in the Action

I am at a bit of a standstill on my latest project. I've been having some pain in my shoulder and I think some of my carving technique has aggravated that. I'm still doing a little carving each night, but not much, for now. I am also trying to do a little research on finishes. It occurs to me that a walking stick is in it's own category, in terms of an appropriate finish. I will surely be exposed to all kinds of rough treatment and every type of weather condition. So I just haven't decided what to do on that yet. Stay tuned, I'll try to keep something interesting posted here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Carving a Wizard Walking Stick - Part 6

I tried a number of tools to work on the spiral part of the cane and finally settled on two.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Carving a Wizard Walking Stick - Part 3

This episode goes a little deeper into detail, discussing some of the tools I prefer on this project.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Walking Stick and Meatloaf

I spent the weekend with my Scout Troop and some quality outdoor time enjoying a taste of Spring and a taste of good camp cookin'. If you do any camping and enjoy the benefits of Dutch Oven cooking, I hope you know about Byron's Dutch Oven site. I made this Meatloaf "flower" recipe. Yum!

We did a little hiking, played in the field, sat around a campfire and enjoyed the "super moon". But mostly I spent time at my makeshift camp carving station working on the wizard walking stick.

Working on something this long and skinny has it's own set of problems and I find progress slow. After quite a few hours on carving, I see only a small pile of chips. But I stopped and started a lot. I'm trying a lot of tools on the spiral to see what works best and haven't really settled on one thing. I'll talk about that in the next post, which will be a video post. There's a piece of pine there i rescued from the firewood pile. If it doesn't crack apart too much, maybe I can carve something from it later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carving a Wizard Walking Stick - Part 1

I have picked a new project to work on and present as a video series. This time I will be merging two ideas I got from past issues of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine, with a few ideas of my own thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Leprechaun

As was my original plan, I decided to make another Leprechaun, working from my clay model. This one has a more interesting four-leaf clover base. He is a little larger than the first one and much larger than the model. I also chose a different color scheme and added a bit more detailing, including striped socks and buckles on his shoes and a button on his vest. I think I prefer the less floppy hat too. Anyway, it's fun to try variations after using a model.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Site of the Week - Celtic Love Spoons

As I try different kinds of carving, one thing I revisit every so often is the Celtic or Welsh Love Spoon. There are many different designs to choose from and they can be made using whatever scrap pieces you have around. Love Spoons can be very simple or extremely challenging to carve,  beautiful to look at and, most importantly, are perfect objects to lace with symbolic elements, giving them a deep and lasting meaning for the giver and the receiver. I came across a site with a short "how to" slide series. The carver, Adam King, makes some of the more delicate and graceful designs I've seen. Of special interest to me are two things he shows. First, the idea of rounding the spoon part before the final shape of the handle section is completely cut away. This give something sturdy to hold with a vise. With a spoon this delicate, that would have been impossible had the entire spoon been scroll cut. Secondly, the use of small strips of cloth-backed sandpaper for sanding this, curved parts. Trying to do this with almost any other method would likely proof frustrating. In any case, this particular design looks quite challenging. I might have to give this one a try and see for myself. Here is the link for "making a love spoon" page on Adam's site.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Clay to Wood Leprechaun - Part 6

Here are photos of the Leprechaun the first. I have a second one in the works and I added some more video including some extras. Looking for a new project...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clay to Wood Leprechaun - Part 5

In this part, I complete most of the carving on the Leprechaun. Apologies for the big progress leap. This one is about the concept more than the actual carving. If folks want it, I can do more detailed videos on the carving process, but that can be found on other blogs by better carvers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Clay to Wood Leprechaun - Part 4

In this part, I start the wood rough out and talk about my choices for making the carving in parts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clay to Wood Leprechaun - Part 3

In this part, my clay model is finished and I'm ready to try carving it in wood. One thing I learned that I didn't know when I started - plasticine is oil-based and will never harden! Also working with it makes it get softer and softer. So this means every little bump with a fingernail dents it. I got frustrated at first, but later came to appreciate that it would be an advantage to be able to make changes after it was finished.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Carving from a Clay Model: Leprechaun Part 1

Something new for me. I know a lot of carvers use this method for carving birds, but it's a useful process for working out a complicated or original design. I always struggle with fabric folds and the clay model afforded me the opportunity to "erase" and re-sculpt until I get a look I like. It is a useful reference while carving and gives something to refer back to if you plan to make more than one carving of the same thing. The final wood version can be as close as you want to the clay version. Obviously you can vary expression and so forth. Here's part one of the series of videos showing my "experiment".