re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

#49 Wood Carving: 27 things to do to improve your carving without carving.

I often think about ways to make my carvings better.  Here is a quick and unorganized list of things you might consider when you run stuck or need some different perspective before returning to your carving, or any other creative venture for that matter.

Eggplant face. Playing.

Half eaten apple – reference file

Reference idea - bonsai tree

I say the latter because I have been so pleasantly surprised when I have gone out on a limb to hear a lecture in an area totally far afield from my area of study and work.  I am trained as a history teacher, Bible teacher, art teacher.  Yet, I have sat in on lectures about tarantulas, chocolate, short wave radio, story telling, banjo playing, manufacture of books, cooking, and a host of other topics.  Each has given some insight into the world, life, myself, relationships, work, and art.  More perhaps than I realize.

So, here’s my list.  Would love to hear from you.  Any other ideas about getting creative juices flowing, finding new ideas, fomenting inspiration?

1. Look at other carvings – Google images is a good place to begin.

2. Watch a tutorial – Youtube, Woodcarving Illustrated Forum.

3. Read a carving magazine – Woodcarving Illustrated, Chip Chats, Carving Magazine just to mention a few.

4. Draw – I have far too many books on drawing.  Need to take the time to do some, even if it is copying or just bad

drawing.  Doing it helps improve the eye, its powers of observation.

5. Sharpen your tools.

6. Start a reference file.  Buy a batch of manila folders.  Sort piles of pictures.  Label files.

7. Review your existing reference files.  I have rediscovered many great ideas by taking time to review what I have.

8. Visit another carver. Watching someone else carve has always generated greater desire to do better carving.  Good

conversation often follows.

9. Visit a museum – in person or on line.

10. Read a book on wood – “Wood: Craft, Culture, History” by Harvey Green.

11. Organize your work space.

12. Take painting lessons.

13. Make a carving holder – see Dylan’ youtube   Relief Carving with Dylan Goodson www.youtube.com

14.  Buy a better tool.  Select something really good, useful.

15.  Take a walk in the wood, in a park, through the city – goal is looking for inspiration.

16.  Read art books – water color, painting, furniture making, scroll sawing, ice sculpture, clay, pumpkins, needle

work and fabrics- be inspired by what others do.

17.  Read poetry – inspiration.  I read the Bible.  Psalms are great.  Find your book of poetry.

18.  Sculpt in the sand or snow.  Quick, cheap, easy to do.

19.  Scrounge for some wood.  Hike in the woods.  Visit a local lumber yard.  Search the neighborhood.

20.  Buy some clay or plasticine.  Spend time playing with it, develop ideas to transfer to wood later.

21.  Take pictures of things you things you might like to carve.

22.  Make faces in the mirror.  Study how the muscles change, what lines get created, the eyes don’t move.

23.  Try on all kinds of clothing, pose, have a friend take pictures, see how the clothing reacts to different movement.

24.  Visit the zoo.  Take a camera.

25.  Visit a botanic garden.  Learn about plants, how the move in the wind, how the grow, flow, show their colors.

26.  Buy figurines and small animals at a thrift shop. Study them to see how things were simplified.

27.  Improve your lighting.

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,  but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4

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2 responses

  1. Jeff Postma

    John I have one more to add to the list…
    Take a carving class. This has proved to be very beneficial to me. Instructors all bring their own insights and techniques to carving and you get to choose what works for you. I often find myself struggling and hear voices from past classes helping me through a difficult spot. I recommend trying the carving camp in Bremen Indiana http://www.iwcsc.org/

    January 7, 2011 at 7:13 am

  2. Thanks Jeff, great idea. I, too, hear the voices or remember the instructions as I try pieces.

    January 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

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