Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Birds from the hedge


Here are some caricatures of bird life extracted from my Laurel hedge a few years ago. I got the idea from a book entitled "The Little Book of Whittling" by Chris Lubkemann, a real treasure trove of information about carving green wood with a knife, and several of his articles in Chip Chats magazine www.chipchats.org/.

  Wood: Cherry Laurel ( Prunus lauroceratus)      Height: Average 19 cms        Finish: nil

The choirmaster has lost a few feathers over the years from going around the shows but you will get the idea.
Choirmaster


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Onion man

Here is a piece that I've had in the workshop for a couple of years in a blocked out form, and come the new year I resolved to finish before starting a new project. The design is mine derived from a photo in a pensioners magazine.
Wood: Lime (Tilia x europea)

Height: 12 cms

Finish: Linseed oil and Rennaissance wax

He reminds me of guys I have seen carting long strings of large white onions hanging from the handlebars of bicycles in France and Belgium, seen when I have been out doing geological fieldwork, with the odd good lunch of local bread, wine and salad thrown in. Happy days indeed.

The right eye is supposed to be winking. I have a trick or two to learn here!
This is my first attempt at caricaturing an ear, in an attempt to placate a carving friend who always inspects ear details. He, like me is a geologist, it must be something we've done in life....

Friday, 11 January 2013

My bench

Caricature carving requires little work space. This small bench I built for portability and fits any tabletop.  The design idea was partly sourced from a book by Marvin Kaisersatt entitled "Creating Caricature Heads in Wood and on Paper" with the addition of a carving post that I developed.
The author is a member of The Caricature Carvers of America www.cca-carvers.org and his book is a must have for anyone contemplating making caricatures.

 The bench is 38 cms wide with the front face hooked over any table edge.  Front middle is a carving ledge probably Czech in origin, used as a support for the work being carved.
On the left is a bench top carving arm that can be used to hold a caricature head with a small carvers screw.
Behind the carving ledge is a carving post that can be rotated to provide various support faces to lean the carving against whilst cutting away from the holding hand. All faces of the post and ledge are covered in cork sheet to maximize grip on the carving.

Here the carving post is removed to show the spigot and parking hole. Note the broad base of the carving post that provides sufficient friction against the bench top to prevent unwanted rotation of the post when under pressure.

Other holes are parking slots for tools not in use.

On the extreme right is a leather strip charged with sharpening compound for honing the carving knives.

My knives

Here are 5 knives that I do most of my carving with, and have made many of my other carving tools redundant!

       Lignum vitae               Lacewood             Brazilian tulip/ebony        Mora                                         

On the far right is a Swedish Mora knife that I purchased many years ago. It has a 5 cms blade and a 10.5 cms handle and is fine for roughing out shapes. The 4 knives on the left are typical of North American style knives with a 3 cms blade and a 13 cms handle. The steel blades I source from Warren Cutlery www.warrencutlery.com and the handles I made from attractive hardwoods gathering dust in my workshop. The broader blades are for heavy roughing-out work and the slimmer blades for fine detail work. The handles are designed to fit my hand after an article published in Woodcarving Illustrated Spring 2011 by Carl Johnson. They are extremely comfortable to use in a wide range of cutting modes. In particular I find the North American style of knife allows me a greater level of cut control where the hand grip is close to the cutting tip.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Birch wood spirit

First in class at the Sussex Woodcraft Society www.sussexwoodcraft.co.uk 2012 Annual show.

Wood: Silver birch (Betula pendula)

Height: 25 cms

Finish: Linseed oil and Rennaissance  wax

This was carved in wet Silver Birch, the tree having been cut 2 months before work commenced. Drying checks (cracks) were avoided by flattening and grooving the back of the log with a chainsaw to equalize the shrinkage stress between front and back (heartwood and sap wood).
Carving emphasis was placed on framing the image by a surround of deep cuts to create shadows, all done with a scarey sharp knife.
Rennaissance wax was developed for the British Museum to preserve all it's antiquities. It dries hard and is resistant to finger marking.

Apple wood spirit

This is a wood spirit carved in Apple that was copied from an article by Keith Howard in Woodcarving Illustrated Summer 2011. I was interested in how the author had achieved such a good depth of field which in time I think I managed to achieve after many hours of work.

Wood:  Apple (Malus spp)                            

Height: 34 cms

Finish:  Linseed oil and Rennaissance wax

The wood was carved within 3 months of the tree being felled, and in order to minimize drying checks (cracks) the back of the carving was flattened with a chain saw and deeply grooved into the heartwood throughout the length. Two years on the wood is dry with no cracks.
Depth of field is enhanced by deep "framing" cuts done with a very sharp knife and lots of work.

Body language!

I sketched out this caricature from a cartoon I found on the Fantasia website, a Walt Disney film made in the 1940's. I was attracted by the action of the piece which posed a few carving challenges.

Hippy-shake
Hippy-shake
Hippy-shake

Wood: Lime (Tilia x europea)    Total height: 12 cms      Finish: Linseed oil and beeswax polish

Hippy-shake is carved from one piece of wood, the complex symmetry necessitated several scaled sketches. Most of the carving was completed with a knife, except in concave depressions where small gouges were used. The knife was particularly effective in carving the deep folds of the tutu.