Carving, let’s talk about it! My main focus in carving at this point is for picture frames. That means they need to be fairly low relief and able to be gilded without the leaf faulting too much and showing the sealer undercoat. A little of that is good as it replicates age but too much of that is crude. All that being said, when I carve my goal is to keep the carving low relief while still trying convey a lot of depth. Here’s a recent example taken from a Mary May Carving School lesson:
The depth on it is about 1/4″ and I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t easy — stressful actually. Some of you may remember my artistic endeavor of carving when I decided to attempt carving a life size sculpture of my shorts. Compared to this, that was fun because it was a free flowing form with really no right or wrong to it, check out this blog link and you’ll see what I mean. This rose and lily had to look authentic!
For starters, I really enjoy the way Mary May presents her lessons. I subscribe to another woodcarvers online school and one thing different is that Mary puts the size of the gouge used on the screen and leaves it up for quite some time. Maybe it’s aging and short term memory loss but that seems to work in my favor as I rummage through the tools to find the one needed. I’m also “blog buddies” with the man who does her video’s, Bob Easton, so when I see his name at the end of each lesson it feels more personal — silly I guess but that’s how it feels. Bob and I often make comments and ask each other questions on our blogs so there’s a connection. Mary did this carving on a piece of Maple, mine is Basswood since that’s what most of the frames I carve are too. I’ve learned that not all Basswood is the same, some is very stringy and hard to cut cleanly. The molding stock I get from Foster Planing Mill has always been excellent material.
Rather than go into a lot of boring details here’s a slide show of the lily being carved:
Between slides #3 and #4 there was a lot of work that took place. This is where gouges of a specific size are matched as closely as possible to the curvature of the design. Mostly sweep numbers 3,5, and 7 of various widths. My choice was to create an oval area for the design to sit in and a #5/12 accomplished that. The final slide shows the lily pretty much completed so it was on to the rose.
The rose was much more difficult then the lily! I needed all the help I could get to outline the petals. Thanks goodness for a lap top! I was able to set it on top of the carving bench, listen a bit, and then immediately make the cuts that she did. Even at that, there were a few mistakes. Once most of the outlining was done it was time to model the rose. At that point I removed the laptop, not too sure how well it’ll hold up to all of the chips being made.
The project was a good learning experience. Through Mary’s teaching I have an understanding of how the flower flows and then trying to carve the wood to show that. My preference is to simply apply a coat of wax (Liberon Black Bison) to protect and seal it and allow the wood to show through. With a light colored wood like this the depth and undercuts give nice shadows, hopefully you noticed how I attempted to undercut the stems and leaves to enhance that effect. You can see there is a slight chamfer planed on the edges but no sandpaper was used on this project. My preference is for the tool marks to show through and authenticate how it was crafted rather than create a smooth look that a CNC machine could have done. Once we return to Las Vegas I may decide to rabbet this piece and inlay it into the lid of a box.