Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Variations on a Theme

Pictured below is a favorite subject of mine - a woodland gnome. This one is named Kavish. I think this is maybe the 7th or 8th one like him carved over the past year. They have all found good homes, so I keep making them. His basic scope and scale is always the same ( I start with a pattern from an article in WCI magazine), but each one is different in many ways. After carving one or two, I started making him in parts - separate head, body and legs. Kavish was carved from one piece. There are benefits to each method. The reasons I sometimes carve discreet parts is partly to be able to use smaller, scrap pieces of wood (it takes a 4" X 4" X 10"+ block to carve this in one piece) and It's a little easier to handle in pieces... easier to paint too. But the work it takes to get the head to fit the body is a down side. I thought I'd be able to turn the head a little for some "attitude", but the beard limits that and besides, gnomes are peaceful and don't exhibit a lot of attitude! The benefit of making the one piece is I can hold him in a vice for much of the roughing stage, which I really like.

The variable features, that which really makes each one unique is in how I approach the facial features, the tools I use and the method of applying texture to the boots. Each successive gnome I carve gives me a chance to try slightly different eyes, noses, ears and facial hair. Since no one really gets a good look at these elusive characters, the details are up to me and quite forgiving of accuracy. Painting also varies and I have improved quite a bit in that area as well. The color palette hasn't changed a lot - he's still wearing red and blue, but I have a lot of fun trying to get the perfect face and beard colors and shadings. He'll be up for sale on my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Walnut Spoons

I was able to get a few more nice spoons from the free walnut I found, part of a discarded shipping pallet. Here are photos. Take a look at some of the previous posts to see a video showing the process of making them. They are going up for sale in my Etsy shop...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Salvaged Walnut Spoon

Following my last post about found wood from a shipping pallet, I made this walnut spoon. I still can't get over the fact that I was able to generate something of beauty from what most people consider garbage. Enjoy and please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Treasure in the Trash

I am always on the lookout for wood that others might deem garbage or firewood and use it to make something useful of beautiful - or both! If you aren't a maker of such things, which is most people let's face it, you would not only not see it as something that could be carved or planed, but not see it at all. This pallet was left on the sidewalk by a delivery truck for sanitation to pickup, but as a full 4X8 wooden pallet, that was not going to happen. I forgot to mention there are lots of foreign objects in found wood (nails, rusty screws, dirt, pebbles) so use with caution, especially protect your eyes when cutting it up and be cautious not to damaged sharpened tools. I don't know what I'll make from this little treasure, but I'll post it when I do.

Be sure to check out some of my other carving videos on my YouTube channel - UltraD52

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Very First Blue Ribbon: Love Spoon

I am pleased to be recognized as a first place winner among several fine artists at Think Long Island First in Oyster Bay. I was the only carver, so it is a unique distinction since I was up artists of many types of work and mediums. But it's always nice to get the recognition.

I carved this one from a piece of cherry I picked out a friends firewood pile. In case you're wondering, the leaves were carved separately and glued into small holes I made with Dockyard gouges.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Generating a New Design: A Love Spoon

 I enjoy carving Love Spoons and I'm always looking for a fresh design. Often I will simply search the internet for images of spoons carved by others to get ideas or maybe try carving a design I like that was previously carved by someone else. If you have done the same, chances are you have come across the graceful  design at the right. It is one I like a lot and enjoy carving it. This is one I carved from a scrap of mahogany.

But I was looking for some designs with hearts for Valentine's Day and came up with only a few that I liked at all. Some were a little too complex for my skill level. I decided I might be able to use this design and convert it into something that would fit the bill for my Valentine carving. I downloaded a photo of the design and imported it to Photoshop. I then copied the image to a new layer and flipped the bottom layer. With a little tweaking, I was able to get a nice heart shape in the top section. Of course I had to erase some of the image to eliminate some of the curly part at the top.
I then merged the two layers to make one "flat" image. Then I created a heart shape that fit the upper area and placed that on top of the other layer. Merging the heart cutout layer with he spoon image left me with something I could use a s a pattern. Then all I had to do
was resize the image to be what I wanted for my actual spoon.
The result was a little chubby, so I scaled the proportions a little
until it looked right to my eye. The result is the carving to the right,
which is also carved from mahogany. The original spoon was photographed with lights and the second one was photographed outside in daylight so they look different, but they are both from the sam piece of wood.

The point is that a new design often lurks inside an existing one and with a little effort and a practiced eye you can find all kinds of new ideas
by reworking patterns you already have.