The little guy really turned out nice. I like many things about him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
One early carving medium which caught my attention and efforts was the basswood egg. Actually I went to the craft stores and bought a number of eggs which crafters use.
The paint work crafters do on them can be gorgeous, however, I learned quickly that craft store eggs are not ideal for wood carvings. Most of the eggs I found years ago, haven’t looked lately, were, as I discovered through painfully slow experience, turned out of birch or maple. That means they were hard, hard, and hard. I had seen someone carve an egg.
I had looked through some books on egg carving and thought it would be enjoyable. After the first few eggs and hours and hours into the work, I began to wonder if it was worth it. The time it took to cut the maple or birch eggs was far greater than I had anticipated.
Then I found basswood eggs. What a difference. I have gone through an “egg” stage. For a while I was carving 100 to 200 a year.
The eggs shown here are a small sampling of what one can do with basswood eggs. Enjoy.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6
Bark houses are a delight to carve. The colors, contrasts, and creative opportunities make carving cottonwood bark a great medium.
Following the flow of the bark is one key to making a pleasing looking bark carving. In “The Water Barrel,” one interesting feature was a large wing of wood plunging off to the left. One method I have used to enhance such a piece is to pierce the wood under the house to allow light through. In this carving, I chose to add rocks, stairs and a bench. The shadows under the bench, created by the stairs and the rocks add visual interest. I like how the outer skin of the bark which has been left on the carving draws the eye up to the house.
Bark carving is both interesting and challenging. This can be seen in the view of the front door and wall. The door ended up being recessed because of the fault lines running through the piece. At the same time those fault lines needed to be kept visible to add more interest to the piece. Because of the faults the surface finish chosen was block or “stone” rather than clapboard. This allowed for working around the faults.
Details can be added at any time in the carving. However, some details need to be anticipated. The water barrel in this carving was planned for.
The sides of the house, both the bench and the barrel, needed extra wood. In the rough out stage, the house was not completed to the base so that these details could be added in toward completion.
The same planning needed to go into the chimney. Wood needs to be left on the roof anticipating where the chimney may go. Position the chimney where it will add to the over-all design of the piece.
Even though much of the base wood has been left, some piercing has added to the eye appeal of this carving. Note the contrast created by the light, rust colored inner wood and the skin gray. I find this one of the most appealing features of bark carving.
One more picture. When carving bark and doing a lot of piercings, the view from the back of the carving can be nearly as interesting as the front.
One more comment on this post. Did you notice the quality change in the photos? I love wood carving. Not so adept at picture taking. Learning as I go. The early photos were taken in the basement under indoor lighting. The pictures at the end were taken in the sunlight. I needed a better picture of the barrel. Of course, that means I should take all my photos in the sunlight. And that means I would need to commandeer not only the entire basement, the whole garage, but also a corner of the living room where we find the best sunlight. Hmmmm. may be plan B. Until next time. Shalom.
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light .” Romans 13:12
Seals. I have seen them in Lincoln Park Zoo. They show up in circuses and shows. There are several books I remember from my childhood where seals were the main characters.
One of the things that attracts me to seals is their smooth, clean lines. There is
something about their glide through the water, the effortless twists and turns, that make them eye-appealing.
Of course, their sounds, barks and other interesting vocalizations helps to draw one to them.
So another idea for carving.
Carving Tip: You will notice the seal awaiting paint. The base utilizes some of the features found on the wood when the carving was planned.
The dark part of the base is a bit of the basswood bark. The carving was arranged so that this bark feature would remain.
“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.” Gen 1 New International Bible.
Scandinavian flat-plane carving.
“The Scandinavian flat-plane style of woodcarving is a style of figure carving. The figures are carved in large flat planes, created primarily using a carving knife. Tool marks are left in the carving and very little (if any) rounding or sanding is done. Swedish-born American artist, Emil Janel was considered by many to be the one of the best of this genre.” (Wikipedia)
One of my favorite Scandinavian style carvers is Harley Refsal. He has followed well in the tradition of Emil Janel.
Shadows and clean lines make a visually pleasing presentation for a flat-plane piece.
A minimum of cuts used to create the shadow lines requires long, smooth strokes of a very sharp knife.
The paint job also adds to the appeal of these flat plain carvings. A light wash of color allows the wood grain to come through as can be seen in the side views above.
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1
One of the joys I have in carving is cottonwood bark. The bark of the cottonwood tree is a delightful carving medium.
It can grow up to six inches thick on certain Plains trees. Most of the bark I work with is from two to four inches thick.
Another great feature of the bark is its color. The outer part comes in many shades of gray, maybe black or I have even found pieces that have been bleached white by the sun and other conditions. The exterior coloring is also varied by the amount of moss or lichen which may cover the piece. While there is great coloration on the exterior, the interior coloring always takes my breath away. Tones of color from rich, deep reds to light browns and even yellows make cutting into any piece an adventure.
In the next months I will post many more bark carvings,
take note of the color variations. Added to the coloring is the growth layer variations which are exposed in different ways with each new cut. If you have not, let me encourage you to pick up a piece of cottonwood bark and give it a try.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music… Psalm 98:4
A few weeks ago you saw pictures of some Father Christmas carvings begun. At that time there was a promise to share progress.
But before I go any farther let me give credit where credit is due. The idea for this carving is not mine. The original pattern is from Mike Bloomquist. I have included his web site address here. The pattern, some great pictures and explanation are found in Carving Magazine, Issue #32, Holiday 2010, page 16. I am anticipating Mike’s painting techniques in a later issue.
The pictures included in the post are of my carvings. The first picture is of several carvings in various stages of completion. I also tried several different sizes to see what effect the carving
technique would have. Everyone who sees them responds to different ones. Some like the short, wide version and other like the tall, thinner ones. I prefer the wide, squat figures.
You will notice that I have many carvings ready to paint. One tip for new carvers is to carve several pieces and then paint them all at once. Here I will paint mix up the colors I want for the faces and paint all of them at once. Then I will paint in all the robe colors if there is going to be any variation. Finally I will add all the trim colors.
Included here is a picture of the various stages a carving will go through. Left rear is our “rough out” or “blank.” You can see the lines drawn on it to give an idea of the carvings layout. (Thanks to my friend April for helping with some of the cut outs for the group meeting at my house bi-weekly) Next, rear right, is the initial cuts, “hogging off” or “wasting” to get rid of some of the wood for a basic
shape. The third stage is front right. It has the major areas all set in place and has a few of the details added. Front left is a completed carving. All the details are now in place. One more step before carving will be to wash the piece, if I am going to use acrylic paints. As suggested by Phil and Vicki Bishop, I use
a solution of Simple Green to clean dirt, hand oil, pencil lines off the carving. And finally, in the center, is a carving which I have begun to paint.
If you looked closely at the painted carving you will notice some smudges of red on the trim. This is my first attempt at painting with oil. I need a spike on which to rest the carving so that my hands can be
freeto control paint and avoid smudges. I was impatient to try the oil. It will cost me time to correct.
I will show some of the completed carvings in a later post. Perhaps you have some suggestions for color? Any suggestions for decoration of the robes? Let me know what you think.
John 20:31 (New International Version)
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”