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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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