re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Posts tagged “Klompmaker

#36 Wood Carving: Accidents will happen.

What is the difference between an amateur and a professional?  Since I am a junior high school teacher, this question comes up often in various forms.  We talk a lot about driving cars.

Tiny pieces

The more self-assured guys and girls believe they are ready, at age 14, to drive.   We have a great time talking about what they know about cars, operations, rules and dangers.  There are many students who don’t even want to think of driving yet, but the braver ones are ready, now.

Tiny, minus some pieces

Our discussion will always come back to, “Why can’t we drive Mr. K?”  My response runs this way.  We know you know how to drive cars – “yeah, I’ve driven down my street lots of times (don’t tell the cops).”  And we know you know a lot about the parts of cars, gassing it up, caring for it (not that you always do without being ordered to do so).  And we know you could handle yourself on the road, all that four-wheeling experience comes into play.  But, and here is the amateur/professional tag line, what happens when things go wrong?

Tiny, up close and personal

My students often do not reflect on what they would do in the driver’s seat when things go wrong on the road.  They have not seen many deer on the road, held the wheel with a flat tire going, needed to avoid a pot hole, dealt with ice and snow on the road or faced the unexpected motorist in the wrong lane.  The point, the amateur (inexperienced) driver will not react correctly to the sudden problems which arise on the road.  The professional, in contrast, is much more adept at dealing with those sudden problems.

A Tiny side view

It is no different in the world of carving.  The amateur sees a carving ruined by a wrong cut or a broken piece.  The professional sees just one more obstacle to overcome to arrive at a finely finished piece.  Carving, and much of life, is about having a goal, identifying the problems and difficulties, and overcoming them with class and style.

So, here is “Tiny,” broken into several piece after being knocked down, having been placed in a poor location.  Now the question, what must be done to salvage him.  Steps to follow – clear the pieces of any debris, select the correct glue, refit the pieces, re-carve any place needing work and then painting the hat in such a way that no one will know the difference.

We will show Tiny refitted and completed later.

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place.  Proverbs 3:19


#19 Carving at Holy Name Cathedral

I did not expect to get back to the topic of inspiration so soon. However, today I was again able to visit Holy Name Cathedral of Chicago. There is a carving to be seen which should inspire every carver.

Resurrection Crucifix 1a

As you can see in the pictures, it is a beautiful piece.
The “Resurrection Crucifix” was carved by Ivo Demetz.  Demetz used one solid log of Balsam wood. He has left the natural color of the wood show through. He has also left knife and gouge marks visible to the viewer.

Traditional crucifixes show Jesus Christ nailed to the cross, crowned with thorns, pierced and bleeding.

Resurrection Crucifix, Holy Name, 1b

The sight, grim in its purpose, reminds the viewer of the sacrifice Jesus made. The crucifix shows Jesus at the point of death.

Demetz has given this traditional depiction of Christ a twist. At first glance one sees a crucifix. Closer inspection reveals that this view of the cross is different. It is a cross. Jesus is present “in” the cross. But, there the similarity ends. Christ is not pinned to the cross by nails. There is no crown of thorns nor is he pierced. Instead, Jesus is shown whole, healthy, resurrected. Demetz has carved Jesus in such a way that he seems to float inside the cross – although he is in fact attached at several points in the carving. One last grand detail is the cross itself. The artist has carved a cross which gives the feeling of rays of power and light. It is the resurrected Christ we see.

Of interest to a carver are the bold carving strokes Demetz uses on the figure of Christ. Also the unique way of

Resurrection Crucifix, Holy Name, rear view 2 a

making the viewer feel as if the carving floats free of the surrounding cross. One more point of interest for the carver is the effect the surface treatment gives. New carvers would benefit from noticing the impact surface treatment gives to a carving.
The “Resurrection Crucifix carving always inspires me to sit at my carving bench and carve. Hope it does the same for you.

Psalm 22:1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?   Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

Carving in cottonwood.


A different slant on things 1a



A different slant on things 1b


Another carving.  Three  photos to go with our article.  Amazing what one can learn.  Of course, we aren’t saying how long it took.


Cottonwood is one of my favorite materials to use.  As you can see, the bark of the cottonwood can be very thick.  The exterior layer is usually gray and dark.  The fun begins when the exterior is open and the grain of the bark is displayed.


A different slant on things 1c


Rich, deep reds, browns and yellows interplay in pleasing and exciting patterns.  Before finish coats are added the exposed bark is a soft brown, often unremarkable. When a coat of sealer or wax is added cottonwood bark really stands out.

Cottonwood is a pleasing wood to carve.  It is softer than most carving material.  It holds detail nicely.  One drawback is its fragility.  When carving, you always need to be aware of the pressure being put on the various parts of the carving.  Flexibility in design is a must when carving with cottonwood.

This piece is for sale today at a 10% discount on the Gift shop price.  Contact me if you are interested.