re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Archive for March, 2011

#63 Wood carving: Where to get ideas: Frogs and things

Tracing of a frog pot

Something a little different this time.  Obviously the picture above is not a carving, it is a tracing of a ceramic dodad my sister owns.  It is a cute little frog which sits under her bathroom vanity.  It is the perfect place for such a neat little piece, given the four children – two boys and all the water that gets splashed around.

Front view of frog

This entry, however, is not about frogs and places they hide.  It is about where we find ideas for carving.  I am always looking for the next good idea, an artistic something which sparks an idea, or a part of  life which energizes me to carve the next best piece.

Side view

Creation, the beauty of the world as God made it, is a great place to look for ideas.  I have files, paper files and on the computer, filled with pictures of things which have captured my attention, peaked my interest, or drawn a second look.  I keep those files around, looking through them periodically, for inspiration or a fresh start.

Close up

These pictures may well become another carving.  I will keep the outline tacked to my work bench for a time.  [If I lose it I now have an electronic file of it here :)]  One thought I have had is to “blow up” the carving which is here done in ceramic.

The figurine provides us with some of those critical pieces of information we need in carving.  It gives all the parts of the frog in relationship to each other and does so in an interesting and “froggy” kind of way.  I see the frogs of my youth out on the lily pads ready to jump should our boat or hands get too close.  Another benefit of observing this figurine for carving is the process of simplification the potter went through to get the “frog” feel here.  We know it is not a frog, and we know we will not be creating a frog, but the artist simplifies the carving while still keeping the frog feel.

Now, the trick is to find the right piece of wood, get the blank cut out, creating a “froggy” carving,  paint, seal, and sign.  Simple.  Well, almost.  Let me know if you try this.  I would like to see your version.

“And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”  Gen 1: 24,25


#62 Wood carving: More bark houses, cotton wood bark.

Bark house with deep fissure

One of the joys of carving bark is dealing with what each piece of bark brings to the table.  The challenge,  always, is finding ways to incorporate the natural features into the finished piece.  In this piece of bark we have a very deep fissure bracketed by two nice, solid pieces of bark.

Bottom of fissure

Another angle on the fissure

Fissure nearly through the bottom

The fissure itself creates a wonderful negative space for the eye.  The dark slash through the piece takes your eye up in to the house at the top. Shadows and light spots add lots of visual interest to the base of the carving.

The two solid masses of wood on either side of the fissure have been dealt with in view of the strong visual texture of the fissure.  As you can see in the picture immediately above, lots of bark has been left on the base.  This light bark stands in contrast to the dark fissure.  But, in order to tie the base to the house above, some rocks have been cut into the bark of the base to expose the redbrown of the under wood.  The shapes and the color add another layer of visual interest.

Side view of the house

Moving up from the base we come to the house itself.  The base has drawn our eye to the color and texture of the house.  Small rocks in the chimney echo the larger rocks of the base.  The rounded shapes of the chimney rock and base rocks are countered by the strong vertical and horizontal lines of the roof shingles, squared stones of the walls the steps and landings, and door and windows.  More shadows and highlights are created by the bench underneath the window.

All in all a piece I really like.  Trust you do too.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:22