A new carving underway
Went into my wood stock the other day and came away with a really nice slab of black walnut. I know what I will do with it. There are a couple of ways a carving usually comes about. There are those times when a piece of wood calls to you. It whispers into your minds ear and tells you what it will become. Other times you will find something you wish to create and then search out the right piece of wood for the project. This will be one of the latter types.
Every now and then I set out to do a carving just for myself. Most of the time I am busy doing carvings as gifts or because they have been requested by family or friends. So now when I do a piece for myself, I try to do a “wow” piece. In my everyday life I come across images which inspire me and I keep them in a file stored on my computer. I have long admired the designs used in leather craft and I think they easily cross over into woodcarving. They are almost very shallow relief carvings. This particular design is a leafy swirly pattern with a textured background. It will be my first carving which uses leather craft as its inspiration. In my mind’s eye I am picturing myself transforming this design into a deep relief with lots of undercutting which will give the finished carving great shadowing and make it interesting to the viewers eye.
© Jim Linnell
In my early carving years, I simply would have used it and given it no thought, but now that I consider myself an artist I am mindful of other artists copyrights. I routinely make my own original designs these days but every now and then I come across a design that is so appealing to me, I just want to use it to make a carving from. I did my research and found out whose design it was. His name is Jim Linnell. I sent him an email asking his permission to use it as a basis for my next carving. He said me choosing his work was quite flattering and he gladly gave his permission. I will keep a copy of the email for my records.
Using a photo program, I re-sized the pattern at 16″x23″ using 16″ as a base since that is the width of the walnut slab. I asked a friend of mine to cut the slab of walnut to match the 23″ length that the pattern will require. I will get the panel back in a few days and then the carving will get underway.
Black walnut 16″x23″
|I have printed out the pattern to the correct size using my home printer. I have taped the pages together to form 1 large pattern.|
|I have taken the corner and removed the first piece of wood to set the depth of the rest of the carving. This wood is 1″ thick. The general rule of a deep relief on panel is the go halfway into the wood, thereby allowing the wood to retain its strength which will discourage any future warping. The larger a piece of wood, the more noticable its reaction to the relative humidity of its surroundings can be. Sometimes wood can act like a sponge and absorb good amounts of the water in the air which can slightly change its size and shape.|
|Using a depth-gauge, a tool any relief carver should have in his/her arsenal, I have set the depth of this background at 1/2″|
|Here is what a proper stop-cut should look like. It should ride just shy of the pattern line into the waste wood. the red area will be removed.|
|This is where I am after a couple hours of carving. I told you this will be slow going due to the hardness of the wood. It takes quite awhile to remove 1/2″ of walnut and level the bottom in spaces this tight and irregularly shaped.|
|All the waste areas have now been cut away. It is time to do what I consider the “fun part”, the shaping of all of the forms|
|After looking at the entire pattern, I start the design at the part that will need to be pushed the furthest back. once the lowest depth has been established, it is easier to figure out how deep to go with the rest of the carving.|
|I find the corresponding flower on the wood checking to make sure it is the correct area. when working with a large pattern, it is easy to get side-tracked and mistake one area for another. Always check and double check.|
|The first cut is made with the v-tool around the center of the flower|
|The purpose of this cut is to protect the center part of the flower when carving the petals in towards the center.|
|I then move on to the rest of the flower, separating each petal.|
|The actual shaping is done using gouges. here I am using a #7 gouge which will create a deep curved surface which the light will play off of.|
|Here you can see that the petal now has a shape to it.|
|The center button is now formed and pushed further back into the wood.|
|The broad leaves are now shaped using #5 and #7 gouges|
|The stems are shaped and played with as an acanthus form. Acanthus carving is a very old form of carving originating with the ancient Greeks. It is a stylized (rather than realistic) form of leaf and stem carving which creates flowing forms.|
|The rest of the carving is now being worked on. Each main form is separated from the next by using the v-tool.|