I’ve been debating over whether or not to publish this blog or actually to even get it started! I’m in the process of starting a frame but since I’m really unsure of the outcome (as always) and wasn’t sure it would be good for “public consumption”. You’ve probably guessed my decision is to go ahead and start the blog irregardless of the final outcome — after all, my tag line is to share my discoveries as I pursue this craft!
I have two frames left that were brought to Scottsdale already assembled. This frame is 12″ square and made from Foster Planing Mill molding #95 which has a pronounced Ovolo shape for carving. Knowing that this convex shape would be challenging to carve added to my “publishing” dilemma! What the heck; nothing ventured = nothing gained and there is a big dumpster pretty close to my apartment door.
The inspiration for this design came from an older woodcarving book by Charles Marshall Sayers — still available on Ebay. The date on my copy is 1942! You can see in the picture at the top of the post that it is done on a flat frame which would make it much easier. I’ve mentioned in the past that there doesn’t seem to be much written about carving frames, lots of video’s but not too much in the way of step by step processes. So, that means I’ll just discover and share along the way what I learn. To be honest, these blogs help me as much as they hopefully help you, my blog followers. Much easier than writing hand written notes, sticking them in a notebook, adding pictures, and then trying to find them again. This way, everything’s as close as my MacBook! The first step was to draw the design on a piece of graph paper. After lining out the rectangular area for half of the pattern a compass was used to draw in the major sweeping curves for the center of the design. That can be seen in the first picture. By guesstimation the spacing of the leaf like elements were plotted using the units on the graph paper and drawn free hand. Although my drawing skills aren’t the greatest my thought is that even if the lines were all drawn exact the chances of carving them all exact are slim to none, besides; get a CAD program if you want a sterile machine look! The final step was to copy that design onto a piece of tracing paper. This can now be used with a very soft (6B) pencil to transfer the design to the frame.
If you’re unfamiliar with this technique of transferring allow me to explain. Because the lead is so soft it transfers to the tracing paper on your initial draw. By flipping the paper over so the side you drew on is on the wood, when you trace the design that soft lead acts like a piece of carbon paper and transfers to the wood. Flip it over again and now you have even more of the soft lead acting like carbon paper. Continue to trace, flip, trace, flip all the way around the frame. You can refine it as needed but this will give you a consistent pattern to follow.
Let the carving begin! After much arguing between me, myself, and I; this was the method I decided to try. Break up similar elements of the carving and do them on each side one after the other. My other thought was to do one side completely, rotate the frame, do the next, and so on. My theory is that if I carve each element on each side in succession there’ll be a better chance of them all looking similar — yep, time will tell! I began with the divot at the center of each leg:
Next up were the two round shapes at the top of the center point. At first they were to be outlined with a v-chisel but decided on this method instead:
It’s become apparent that between the curvature of the molding and the angle I can get with the gouges, sanding will be needed to smooth this out as well. Now it’s on to the leaf like sections starting with the three from the center point:
Again, sanding will be needed to refine and soften the tool marks. Notice the pencil hatching marks by the lines? This was how I marked the lower edges of the leaves, the hatched section is to be the lowest points. Hopefully when it’s all done the center 3 leaves will taper to the inside of the frame while the outer three will taper to the outside of the frame. Another day, another challenge. Now if we can just get the Las Vegas house sold in time to meet the contingency offer on the Scottsdale house I’ll be one happy camper!