Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Brown Eyed Girl" completed

“Hey where did we go,

Days when the rains came

Down in the hollow,

Playin’ a new game,

Laughing and a running hey, hey

Skipping and a jumping

In the misty morning fog with

Our hearts a thumpin’ and you

My brown eyed girl,

You my brown eyed girl. ” Van Morrison, 1967

Here is the project I just completed. This was really intended as a practice piece, to help me “remember” the techniques and details I learned in a class last year. I am pleased with it, because I was able to somewhat repeat the success I had in the class. Enough success to encourage me, but not enough to satisfy. The song seemed to fit her look and seemed an appropriate title. This is basswood and the base is padauk. The grain seemed more prominent in the basswood than in other pieces, but I like the effect. Thanks for looking.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Ready for War Eagle -- Getting Closer

I slowly seem to be getting closer to something that looks feminine, and hopefully pretty. I did remove the bulge from the forehead that some noticed and I also narrowed the forehead and cheek area.

The eyes seemed a little flat, so I made them more curved by gouging deeper into the socket on each side of the eye. I shaped the nose a bit more and added nostrils, which helps define the ball of the nose.

She is starting to have a nice look since I have got things a little more symetrical. I messed with the hair quite a bit, trying to get something smooth and wind-swept in appearance. It seems to look better, to me, when it is more stylized and simple, rather than detailed. I have to restrain myself from adding hairs, since I love doing the details on birds and other carvings!

I use a variety of #11s and #9s to shape the hair and then I hand sand it and use little drum sanders to get a smoothe flow to it. I like the effect I can get with the little bristle sanders in softening the carved edges of the hair; it really seems to give a flowing smoothness, a more finished look that I like, especially on realistic faces.

I think I can work on the neck and shoulders a bit more now, if I can avoid the temptation to keep working on the face. I need to look at it a bit more before I start seeing imaginary improvements that I should do. I try to my best on carvings, but I don’t want to agonize obsessively over every detail and never actually finish….theres always another carving just waiting for me to finish this one! Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Correcting mistakes

Three things that I definitely try to remember:

1. Learn to recognize, to see your mistakes.

2. Learn how to correct your mistakes.

3. Learn to not be afraid to make corrections!

Sometimes that correction may seem quite drastic, if you have not recognized it early in the carving progress. I have a tendency to get too detailed too early in the carving process, rather than carving the overall piece to make sure everything is where it is supposed to be. Doing that, and getting an area such as a nose or an eye carved absolutely perfect can make you afraid to make necessary corections. You hesitate to shorten that beautiful nose to make it fit the rest of the face or to do the eyes completely over. But it has to be done. It is only a piece of wood, after all! That sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to do. I lost my fear after learning a few ways to make corrections and that it really does look better after it has been corrected. So, I have made a few corrections to this since my last post. If you compare it with previous pictures, I have removed part of the forehead, in order to lower the eye brow ridge closer to the eyes.

I also cut off the bottom of the nose, to make the space above the upper lip wider and to narrow the nose a bit. I deepened the inside area of the eyes to make them more rounded. I also removed some of the lower lip, so that it does not protrude as much as the upper lip. Then I had to remove more underneath the bottom lip to reform the chin.

The nose still seemed too thick, so I removed some from the wings and also straightened the bridge a bit. I started thinnning the neck down and making it longer, also the shoulders. I have sanded the piece a bit, to make it easier for me to see what is not symetrical, what might need to be corrected. This is not what I consider finish sanded, but simply to help me see certain planes and shadows better. I worked on the hair some more and also the jaw line. That is simply a very subtle curve made with a #11 gouge and some sanding.

You can see the shadows created by shaping the planes on the face. I made the bottom lip smaller and I am working on the shoulders a bit. One will be driopped lower than the other to add visual interest. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Getting Ready for War Eagle

I registered for the War Eagle carving seminars again for this September and I am attempting to practice and get my carving skills in shape before attending! I hope that the better I am prepared, the more I will get out of it. I am signed up with Adina Huckins again and I don't want her to think I wasn't paying attention the last time. She emphasized repetition and practice as a way to improve skills, as a way to train your muscles to carve properly, to correctly cut and shape the wood.

So I am going to try and carve as many heads as possible in the next 3 months, trying to "remember" all the things she said and taught in the first class. I was pleased with the carving I did in the first class and it showed me I was capable of creating something good. Now the trick is to accomplish something of similar quality without Adina suggesting that I make this a little more symetrical or that I take a little bit more off over there. I have had a few commissioned carvings since last September that prevented me from jumping right in and I have to admit that some of my solo attempts were still kinda discouraging.

But I have no excuses remaining and I am a little encouraged that I am seeing some improvement with the ones I have worked on lately. Plus, it is also important to work at enough to improve physical endurance so that I can carve 8 or so hours daily for a week!

I am also evaluating my carving bench. Last year, I had problems with my vise, so I want to make sure everything is properly tested before loading up. So far, it has worked well and my only real concern would be the space it would require as opposed to one I can just clamp to a table or bench. Anyhow, thanks for looking and listening!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Santas and stuff

I've been busy the past several weeks since I finished the cane, just working on miscellaneous fun things. My daughter is refinishing an old dresser she rescued from the trash and I had to replace a couple of missing drawers. So I got to figure out how to use the dovetail jig someone gave me (it makes a big difference if you use the correct size bushing!). I used my table saw a lot, so I decided to make a Gripperz style push-block that turned out well. That, combined with some different methods, should improve shop safety. I got a web page set up for my carving club and have had a few inquiries from that. My neighbor gave me a partially charred carving of a frog, which was damaged when theri garage burned down. She though I might be able to use the teak it was made from, but I was able to scrape and remove the charred portions and still retain the frog shape. I am still in the process of repainting it and will probably mount it to a piece of wood since the base was rotted a bit. My Chief Financial Officer (wife) has approved my attendance again at the War Eagle carving seminars in Spetember, so I have registered for a class with Adina Huckins again. My plan is to carve as many faces as possible before then for practice and as a warmup. She said that I should be pretty good at it after carving a hundred or so! I am only up to about 20, so I better get to work! I have did a couple of female faces and am showing a little improvement. Here is a Santa I am almost finished with. I am getting a little more concious of shadows and effects that I can create. I enjoy doing Santas but I get a little burnt out after a while, so this is my first since last November? The ornaments are easy to produce and sell good, but I may try a few figures and see how they do. Thanks for looking!