Viewing 1 - 8 out of 8 Journals.

Time flies like the wind; fruit flies like bananas.....
Posted On 08/13/2008 10:04:36
     Wow. Has it really been three months since I was last able to write?
     Well, things have been quiet on the carving front for me this last summer. I DO have a couple of projects that I will write about in the next few days, but I really haven't had much time (or energy, to be honest) to keep up with my carving. And that is going to have to change. I miss it too much.
     So: I'm not dead yet!
     More to come soon...


The eyes have it... or at least, they have ME! Help!
Posted On 05/16/2008 20:43:27
    Not much happening in the carving arena the last couple of days... well, not much obvious anyway. I have a couple of interesting things happening this weekend that I will be able to report about in a couple of days...
    Today, though, I wanted to work some more on the wolf that I started and have been posting pictures of. I read through the next step of the instructions and saw that I had to carve... eyes.
    Before I messed up the carving that I was doing, I figured that I would try out a few practice eyes on another board first. This was the result:
    See there, below the row of "A"'s? They look more like nostrils than eyes...
      The instructions say to carve a shallow gouge out, draw the eye and then "round it off either with the knife or the gouge".... I started off by trying to do one the size that the wolf would need (the second one from the left) and thought that maybe I was trying too small for my first attempt so gradually got bigger and bigger until... they still looked like crap. LOL
    So if you have any sage words of advice to offer, "eye" would really love to hear them. Until then, my copy of the new Woodcarving Illustrated got here today and so I am going to go distract myself for a while.
    Thanks for reading!


Tags: Relief Carving Beginner Novice

What?!? Me worry?!?
Posted On 05/13/2008 09:31:17
    Yesterday, I wrote about attending a class of experienced carvers last night and about how nervous I was feeling about going. I had been worried that I somehow might not "measure up" or that I wouldn't be welcomed by the group. I am pleased to say that I couldn't have been more wrong about either of those things... but the meeting had a most unexpected outcome.
    Allow me to back up just a bit...
    I was getting ready to go yesterday (walking out to the van, in fact) when my oldest son (Isaac, 17) pulled up in the drive and asked me where I was going. I told him and he asked if he might tag along... which was a little of a surprise, but I said "Sure!" Isaac had helped me make the carving board that I wrote an entry about a couple of days ago and after we had finished, I helped him start making a Go board and let him use a couple of my carving tools, but that is about the only exposure that he ever had to carving (besides seeing me practice, that is).
    We found the meeting place and were greeted by Fran Moore, who immediately started picking at me and joking with me and immediately made me feel like I had been going to meetings there for years. He showed Isaac and me up to the studio and, after meeting the rest of the guys, any traces of nervousness I had felt vanished.
    Isaac and I spent the next hour or so walking around and talking with each of the different carvers there, all of whom were extraordinarily open about what they were doing and answered all of the questions that we had for them. Though I didn't tough a carving tool the entire night, I learned a lot more than I could have expected to. Hans even spent some time with us, going over my work and showing me some things that I had been doing wrong... and some other things to try when I got the chance.
    After a while of being there, Isaac gravitated to one carver in particular: Frank Byrd. Frank was working on a gorgeous carved mahagony guitar that he is making for his daughter. Isaac, being enamored of all things guitar, had to work hard to keep from drooling on the poor guy...
    While there, we learned that all seven guys (the instructor included) studied under the same Master carver, Ludwig Keininger... a man who was obviously good at passing his knowledge along. I told my son that I would be willing to take lessons from any of the carvers there if given the chance. They were all that good.
    We stayed for a couple of hours, said our goodbyes, and then were on our way home.
    Then it happened.
    We were talking about how excited we were about what we had seen and my son (who had never really expressed an interest, remember, before asking to go with me) asked me if he could learn to carve, as well.       
    So not only were they a great group of guys, they helped manage to get my son hooked on the idea of carving, as well. To me, that was the best result of all.
    Below are some of the photos that I took last night.
    Thanks for reading!


Doug's relief panel

Doug Oliver and his relief panel

Frank Byrd and his in-progress guitar

Bill Lacy, Doug Oliver, and Hans Schwelm

Frank Byrd, Fred Banes, and Ricky Smith

    Unfortunately, Fran Moore (the host) retired for the night before I started taking pictures and so he doesn't appear here. Sorry, Fran! I will get a shot of you when I come visit again...

Tags: Beginner Novice Relief Carving

Posted On 05/12/2008 11:51:40
    No, no.... I am not talking about carving butterflies.
    I am talking about having butterflies.
    You see, Hans Schwalm,
one of the fellows who has been helping me by answering questions and generally letting me pester him with email after email, has invited me to go visit his class tonight... and to bring some of the things that I have been working on.
    To get a general sense of why I might be feeling just a tad bit nervous, let's take a look at the websites of a couple of the folks in tonight's class.
    Hans Schwalm
    Fran Moore
    Doug Oliver
    See what I mean?
    *deep sigh*
    I truly am looking forward to it.... I am just not used to being a complete novice in a room full of obviously talented people. LOL
     Hans has been nothing but friendly and helpful, though, so I suppose that I really shouldn't sweat it too much. If they were going to take one look at my work and then tell me to go away (or what besides carving I could do with my tools) I suppose that he would have warned me.
    But still.... butterflies.
    Y'all wish me luck....


Tags: Novice Beginner Relief Carving

Show some restraint!
Posted On 05/11/2008 18:29:22
     Not much carving got done today. It was a really nice Mother's Day for my wife, though. The kids got up and took good care of her and we had a really nice lunch/dinner.
     Late in the afternoon when Sarah got distracted, I got a wild hair to go ahead and build the carving board that I have been wanting to build for a while. I have seen a couple of websites that have included plans, but I just put a mental image together of what I wanted/needed and off to Home Despot I went!
     I bought:

a piece of MDF 1/2"X2X4 (MUCH larger than I needed, but my son had things he wanted to build too)
a 1X2X6
#6X2" wood screws (though in hindsight, I should have gone one size smaller)
a roll of non-slip shelf liner
a can of general purpose spray adhesive
yellow wood glue
(OK, OK,OK... I didn;t but the tape measure or the screwdrivers in the picture. I don't know HOW they got in there.... honest!)

     I decided to make my board to be about 16" square so that it could accomadate projects slightly larger than what I am doing now so I cut out a 16"X16" piece of MDF. Then I cut 2 16" pieces of 1X2 and 2 12" pieces.

      I put wood glue in the edge of the MDF and then drove the wood screws through it (making some nice cracks in the board in the process). After that was done, I put the shelf liner on the back as well as on the workspace to further reduce the possibility of slipping.

     And there she is! The final price was right around $25 for everything... though that left me with a LOT of left-over MDF, which I might make another carving board out of if I can come up with a different design.  
     Until next time... thanks for reading!


Tags: Beginner Novice Carving Board Relief Carving

Deep thoughts
Posted On 05/10/2008 18:34:49
     Warning: self-reflective journal entry dead ahead. Read at your own risk. I will not be responsible for you falling asleep atop your keyboard...
     I just had one of those "Oh! I get it!" moments.
     Don't you just love those?
     I was working on the roughout of a project (the wolf project from the current Carving magazine) when I noticed, after the first pass, that something seemed amiss.
     Allow me to back up a moment...
     One of the things that I have noticed as I have been trying to teach myself to carve with various books and a DVD or two is that everything that I have done so far for practice has seemed flat and lifeless and that I seem to have particular trouble bringing in a sense of "round" to what I am carving. If you look at the picture of mine labeled "Second Practice Board", you can see what I am talking about in several of the things carved there. In addition to needing crisper and more well defined lines, most of the things just seem... flat. You know why?
     Because they are....
     So I am looking at the wolf that I have roughed out and posted the picture for  and I realize that I am seeing the same problem there. I mean, I had taken it down to 1/8" and didn't know why it....
     At this point, the little voice in the back of my head starts calling me names that I can't  won't repeat here. I picked up the directions in the magazine, re-read them, and clear as day it says right there: "Remove the background down to 1/4"". Everything that I have been doing looks flat because it is.
      I didn't realize that I had been afraid of taking away too much wood at one time (or at least reluctant to, which amounts to the same thing)... that I was afraid that I would mess something up because I didn't really know what I was doing.
     So, I grabbed my gouge and dove right back in to remove the rest of the background.
     Right after I re-read the rest of the directions, that is....


Tags: Beginner Novice Relief Carving

The strange and the beautiful
Posted On 05/08/2008 06:19:35
     I was just bumming around YouTube yesterday (something which is guaranteed to help me find ways to waste an awful lot of time), just looking for some videos that I might be able to learn something from, when I ran across some relief carving demonstrations by Scott McNeil. He posts under the username of ScottMcNeilArt and you can find his videos there on YouTube and also on his own website at www.ScottMcNeilArt.com
     Watching him carve and looking at his finished products, I was struck by two things in particular.
      Firstly, I was impressed by his style and obvious skill. There is a video called "Stages of a multi-dimensional relief carving" (see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10gStfTPBfg ) that just floored me. I hope, after many years of practice, to eventually have a fraction of the skill and ability that Mr. McNeil obviously has in abundance. And it is not just technical mastery, either. His carvings have a unique "flavor" that I don;t think I have seen in anyone else's work yet... something that marks his work as distinctly his own.
     The second thing that I was struck by while looking at his work was the way he chooses to finish his carvings. I can't even begin to describe the technique he uses to complete his work. It is best, really, if you go see for yourself and then come back here.
      Don't worry. I will wait until you have had a look....
     ..... (sounds of humming).............
     Back? OK....
     See what I mean?
     The first time I looked at his work, I thought at first that it was just a painting. Then I noticed that there were figures underneath that paining. And then I watched his demo and saw all of the DETAIL that was being almost masked by the painting.... and that really hurt.
     Don't misunderstand me: Mr. McNeil's work is all his own (of course) and I am most impressed by it, the end result included. This is not a criticism.... just an observation. I am puzzled by the fact that he would put sooooooo much work into the carving and then finish it in a way that detracts from that wonderful detail.
     I have yet to really look through his website to see if there is somewhere there where he explains the philosophy behind his work but I intend to do that. His front page states "Linear Perception is so limited in it’s ability to grasp ‘higher’ truths.  What I’m doing with my multiple dimensional painted sculpture is developing a new visual language to reach beyond the boundaries of time, space and solitary perspective"... but I am not quite sure that I can wrap my head around what he means. Perhaps there is something else there to explain what it all.
     But whatever his philosophy and logic may be, one thing is certain: his work was striking and unusual enough to catch my attention.... and worthy enough to make me want to write about it here.
     Thanks for listening...


Tags: Carving Art Links Unusual

And so it begins.....
Posted On 05/07/2008 16:59:42

     My name is Floyd and I am a carving addict.
     ("Hello, Floyd.")
     It all started a little over a year ago. I had owned a Dremel forever and a friend of mine suggested that I could use my Dremel to carve some designs in a couple of drinking horns that I owned. I did.. and I was hooked.
     But that was only the beginning.
     I played with carving with power (working mostly in horn, but occasionally in wood) for the next year, and then it happened: the Dremel died.
     This happened just last March. It was the Sunday before Spring Break and I had been planning on spending most of my break carving a little every day and then, without warning, my beloved Dremel went to go see Jesus.
     When my wife, Sarah, saw how upset I was (she insists that I was pouting, but I vehemently deny it) she bought me a set of Flexcut tools for me to play with instead.
     And I was almost immediately captivated.
     I had tried carving with traditional tools before but hadn't liked it.... mostly because the tools I had used were sub-standard and too hard to use. The Flexcut tools, though, were almost instantly fun and satisfying.
      In the last couple of months I think that I have made some little progress. I haven't taken a picture of the first board that I practiced on (it was pine) but there are pictures of everything starting with the second board I carved (basswood... MUCH easier and MUCH more friendly).
      I have read a couple of books and watched a couple of DVDs in the last couple of months. At the moment my instructor heroes are Bill Judt, Nora Hall and fellow Texan Hans Schwalm (whose class I hope to be able to get to next week). All three of these folks are not only great teachers but are also willing to put up with (and actually answer) questions from complete newbies like me.... something which I greatly appreciate!
     In the days to come, I want to chronicle my progress here... though the pictures I post will undoubtedly NOT be of the same great quality that I have seen here so far. If, while looking at my attempts, you see something in particular that I am doing wrong or if you just care to offer general advice, I will be open to whatever feedback you might be gracious enough to provide.
     Thanks for listening! I will be back with more soon...


Tags: Newbie Beginner Learning To Carve

*** MyCarvingClub.com ***