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.