re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Archive for December, 2010

#46 Wood Carving: Humpback Whale completed


Humpback whale completed

I like getting things accomplished. My family says I live with lists, long lists, unrealistic lists – at times, but lists which get updated, rearranged, added to and subtracted from all the time. Lists make my life a little easier and keep me from forgetting to do the things to which I have committed.

humpback, top view

Headed for the surface

Humpback, side view

This post is one of the things on my list. I have promised carvings to many people always with the caveat: it will get there when it gets there. Several months ago I did a sperm whale for a family member. It was well received. And then came the next line we know, “Could you do a humpback?” Don’t get me wrong, I like being asked to carve things. I just like to get them finished in my own time. Carving is a hobby, not my job. So, the humpback stayed on the list.

Then Christmas comes and lists get pushed. People call, my conscience clangs a little louder, my table of partially completed carvings gets more loaded down. I have to complete something. Family first. So, the whale.

Brushes used

Drill and dowel for mounting

My work space for painting

Of course, there is always more to it than the non-carver knows. Resources need to be rounded up – wood, tools, paint, brushes, base, pictures, dimensions, color choices, finishes, time.  Tools include knives, gouges, pencil, drill, ruler, diagrams,

And not everything works the first time. On this whale I had a struggle with two things. First was the curve of the spine and its effect on the position of the tail. In fact, this whale is a second piece. The first is sitting on my carving table. After I began I wanted more motion in the piece – as I related in the first post on the whale.

The second difficulty was with the fins. Without giving away too many things, let me just say that I broke one of them off twice!

That is the down side. The up side is, as always, when one carves one learns all kinds of things. I did not realize the colors one finds on a humpback.  I was ready with my basic black and white, perhaps some grays.  But when I researched the whale I noticed many other colors.  Some come from the barnacles and seaweed attached.  Some of the skin colors I can not explain.  I include here a list of the paints I used for this piece:

Folk Art 479 Pure Black; Folk Art 480 Titanium White; Folk Art 922 Bay Berry; Cermacoat 2116 Black Green; Cermacoat 2044 Coral; Deft Clear Wood Finish – Gloss (first coat); Krylon No. 1311 – Matte finish (final coats)

Paints used

Another upside is that one learns much about the subject being carved.  The humpback is a baleen whale and a rorqual whale that sings amazing and beautiful songs. (wikipedia)  The knobs on their heads are tubercles – hair follicles.  Would certainly make it hard to shave.

Front view

A final view – more of the base

okay, one more

The base of the carving is a piece of drift wood.  Sad to say, I have not identified the wood type.  It is heavy, but that may just be the sand imbedded or it is a type of wood like manzanita.  I like the reddish color and the shape which accents the whale nicely.

Now the final step.   Tomorrow this humpback whale will leave my house.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”  Genesis 1:26


#45 Wood Carving: Merry Christmas. Cool carvings at Calvin College and everywhere you look.

My family is getting skittish these days. They see me coming and they duck for cover or they sigh or they get out a brush. The reason is that a camera has become an added appendage, a fixed feature in my hand.

Mantel detail 1

West mantel - 2

West mantel – 1c

But before I explain, even though it is a few days late, let me say MERRY CHRISTMAS to each reader of this blog. The great thing for me is that even though the gifts have been given, the tree is already gone, the songs on the radio change, the fudge and cookies disappear, the true peace and joy of Christmas is still here. The birth of Jesus and its celebration is just the starting point for me. Anyway, I wish you peace, true SHALOM in this coming year.

East mantel – 1

East mantel – 1b

East mantel 1c

And now, back to the camera which will be a new appendage for this year. There is a reason for it, too. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look there are great uses of wood, eye-catching carvings, clever applications, interesting designs, stunning colors, textures, and patterns.  And so much of it worth sharing with friends.

Center east mantel - 1

Center east mantel - 1b

Center east mantel – 1c

My family had Christmas in Michigan this December. Both sides of the family met in the Grand Rapids area. My immediate family stayed in the “Prince Conference Center,” a place worth checking out.  There is a beautiful nature center to the north and east.  A short walk takes you to the beautiful grounds of Calvin College to the west across a cool over-the-road bridge.

Center west mantel – 1

Central west mantel – 2

Central west mantel – 1c

As you can also see by now, the wood work is great. I wandered through the lobbies and other spaces of the Conference Center enjoying the art work, the carving. There is much more great wood work on the college campus.  Perhaps I can share those with you in the future.  I hope you enjoy this work.  The artists name is Darrel Deruiter.  His shop is in Wyoming, MI.  Well done Darrel.

Deruiter Woodcrafts
1336 Burton St, SW
Wyoming, MI 49509-1466
(616) 243-7322

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

#44 (#42b) Please go back and see….#42 Wood carving: wood, acoustical guitars – mahogany, spruce, sapele, maple, cocobolo

It worked!!  The blog is back on Facebook.  Now I have to figure out how to get post #42 on FB.  Until that happens,I will cross reference here.

Dick, this is for you. Thanks for all the cool guitar pics.  Love your sound, you make the “tonewood” sing.

Big Leaf Maple - Cocobolo mini-wedge, Expression pickup, gold Taylor tuners

“I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you…”  Psalm 144:9

#43 Wood Carving: This is a test


Technical difficulties yesterday.  Suddenly my posts stopped showing up on Facebook. I am trying to figure out why this is so. While I am trying to figure that out – this post is really a test to see if I have marked the correct app in FB – enjoy a few more carving pictures.

Fahter Christmas

Father Chrsitmas, side view

Father Christmas, close up

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'”  Luke 2:13-15

#42 Wood carving: wood, acoustical guitars – mahogany, spruce, sapele, maple, cocobolo

Not all cool wood goes into wood carvings.   That may be a problem for die-hard wood carvers, but there are some great other uses for wood.

Taylor GS-5 12 string, Mahogany, Sitka spruce top abalone rosette and binding,

One of my brother-in-laws loves to play good quality acoustical guitars. He has had several of the best. I do not play a musical instrument myself, but I do like good wood.

Types of wood used on these guitars:  Sitka spruce, Mahogany, Adirondack Spruce, Sapele – an African wood having properties similar to mahogany, maple and cocobolo – a Central American hardwood.

Why all the different types of wood?  In lutherie,the making of string instruments, each type of wood serves a different purpose – sound, workability, durability, aesthetics (looks)  So,   “The woods that don’t absorb and deaden the sound are considered ‘tonewoods.'”  (wikipedia)  Each type of wood creates a different sound to the music produced.  For example, maple produces a “brighter” sound.  Combining woods changes the sound the guitar produces.

That is way more than I needed to know about the musical purpose of the wood chosen.  What interests me more is the looks of the guitars.  Two of my favorites here are the sapele and the big leaf maple/coocbolo.  The grain, coloring, and shape are all very attractive.  I hope you enjoy them also.

Taylor GS-5 12 string, Mahogany, Sitka spruce top

All Mahogany

Martin D18GS. Adirondack spruce burst top 2

Sitka Spruce top

Sapele back on acoustical guitar

Big Leaf Maple - Cocobolo mini-wedge, Expression pickup, gold Taylor tuners

It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.  Psalm 92 : 1-3

# 41 Wood Carving: Little Hobo

Hobo 1

The little guy really turned out nice. I like many things about him.

Hobo, side view

One thing I do enjoy about this Hobo is his color.  I was really pleased with the way the colors worked together.  Also, the wash of paint allowed the wood grain to show through this piece very nicely.  I might have added a little more rosy coloration to his checks, but his face is cute enough to make up for that lack of color.

Hobo 3

The next part about this carving to like is the movement created by the position of the legs, hands, feet, and coat.  Their positions give the piece a more dynamic, rather than a static, stationary feel.  The eye is invited to follow the lines of the carving, to find the interesting points along the way.

Hobo, gotta love the toes

Hobos aren’t really a “cute” topic.  They represent economic hardship and difficulty in life.  But I am a fan of “Freddy the Freeloader” ala Red Skelton.  Red’s portrayal of a hobo was “cute.”  It is that character I looked for in this carving.  So, you will notice the “cute” toes sticking out of the shoes.  I also like the scrunched face, a little character being a little character.

Hobo coat tails

The block of wood for this carving was 4″ x 2″ x 2″.  The figure was not roughed out.  The image was drawn on the square block and the roughed out by hand.  This method has its advantages.  One advantage is demonstrated in the coat tail.  As you can see in “Hobo coat tails” there is a nice sweep to the coat, as if it were caught in the wind.  This is the result of have had “extra” wood in the back of the carving with which to play.

A “cute” smile

On this last picture and on “Hobo coat tails” you can see how great a paint wash looks.  You can see the color, but the wash allows the grain of the wood to come through in a pleasing way.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”  Proverbs  22:1

# 40 Wood Carving: New whale coming.

New whale is laying on the table. It is to be a humpback whale.  This whale is easily identified by its distinctive fins and its “hump” when it dives.  It also has unique spots on its jaws, upper and lower, and on its fins.  The humpback tail is also rather ragged looking, with gaps, gouges or notches along the edges.

Here is a  good beginning, the fins look kind of cool, but need more work.

Humpback, upsidedown, 12″ x 3″ x 3″

The tail doesn’t look right yet, but it has potential.  There is plenty of wood in the tail section.  I am trying to get some movement in the whale so I left a large block on the end and I am working to twist the spine of the whale and thus the tail.  When complete it is to look like the whale is heading for the surface, twisting its tail for power.  and I lost the picture for the mouth/eye set up. Good thing there is a computer to search.  Now it needs all the bumps and grooves to make it look less like a block of wood.

Rough form, some detail begun.

The next picture shows the beginning work on the whales head and jaws.  One account says the species can be identified by its “knobbly” head.  The knobs are called tubercles, which are hair follicles.  It is more difficult than I thought it would be to keep the general shape of the head and get the knobs to look like they belong.

The jaws will be closed.  The knobs here are adding even more difficulty to keeping the shape intact.  The space behind the knobs on the head will need to be narrowed and made to come to a blunt point to hold the blow hole.

Closeup of head and jaws

Twist in the spine for movement

The fins are attached after the body has been shaped.  I drilled holes into the body and then, having left extra length on the fin blanks, I shaped them to fit into the holes.  I have to work at how to make this process go faster and allow for more experimenting with the position of the fins.

The pectoral fins on along each side do not quit have the movement in them I had hoped for, but perhaps edges and surface will capture some of the whales’ qualities.  The movement of the spine can be seen in the last picture.  The whale is going to be supported on a base tail down, head to the surface.  This will show off the fins and the tail twist.  Not quit a breaching humpback, but a good beginning.

“Dear one, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.” Proverbs 3 : 20, 21