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Posts Tagged ‘woodcarving’

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Trout #1 – Carved fins and tail with a drilled eye.

I’ve been researching historic tin and wood weathervanes to develop wall hanging artwork. The idea is to develop a relatively inexpensive artform that I can produce quickly that features my aesthetic and the same distressed finishing techniques that I use on my carvings.

I’ve experimented with a variety of designs including fox, beaver, chicken and trout. I like working with all, but I am particularly please with my trout.

My bird carvings are breed specific. Each carving is researched and drawn until I develop a paint scheme that clearly identifies the bird as a particular species and gender.

This is not the case with my trout. I have examined a variety of trout photos and historic painted and carved trout. I developed an informal paint scheme — with loads of color and texture — that really pleases me. I really enjoy painting and distressing these.

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Tinplate has become a go-to material for bird wings and tails. It seems a natural fit for these fins.

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Tail Detail 

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Three versions and a sign. I love lettering. I loath fake signs and equate them with fake history….but the urge to letter won out here.

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Click here to watch .

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I finished up the barn owl this morning and shot its portraits. Here are a few process photos and a few formal shots. This bird is available. Click the link on the right for more information.

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My recent great horned owl project was such a success that I’ve begun to create a similar barn owl. Photos include some study sketches and patterns, gluing up stock to create a carving blank and sawing out the outline. Tomorrow I hope to share the next steps.

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As school becomes less hectic I find myself returning to my artistic (and most authentic) life. I’ve resumed birding and carving and am convinced that my work will continue to improve.
In college I was a jazz trombonist — and pretty durned good at it. When I began my family I put the horn away for over ten years. To my astonishment, when I returned to playing I was a much better player. I didn’t have the chops to play in the upper register, but I had, somehow, internalized a huge library of hot licks. I realized I had spent that inactive ten years listening to jazz and running the solos in my head.

Carving is much the same. I took off five months to complete the restoration of one side of my house, do some odd jobs for Mom and get Phoebe off to college. I regretted every day I wasn’t at the bench. I continued to read and research and think about how birds could be put together using wood and found objects. When I finished this Great Horned Owl I realized the even without picking up a knife I was continuing to grow as an artist. I believe that there is a lot more where that came from!

I’ve just begun to re-establish my Etsy store. Click the icon on the right to visit. I’ve offered the Great Horned Owl and Quintessential Murder pictured below.

I believe my next project may be a similar barn owl. We’ll see.

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I finally began to move forward with my full sized tundra swan in flight. When completed it should measure fifty-four inches longpith a wingspan of seventy-two inches. My largest strongly, not surprisingly, is to find the space to do this in my tiny crowded shop.

I work, mainly, using two inch thick white pine planks. The cheeks on this swan are three inches thick so the head and neck (the only carved portions of this bird) blank had to be glued up from two pieces of wood.

The trick to a strong and successful glue joint is perfectly mated wood pieces. Before glueing the pieces I flattened them with a bench plane. I then glued them using a waterproof wood glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so I used lots of clamps (six) and thick cauls.

After the glue had set (twenty mins.) I removed the clamps and sawed the head and neck in two profiles. I saw the profile first and tack the scraps back into place before sawing the outline from the top. I then cut a “handle” at the end of the neck to provide a clamping surface.

Like any carving the next step is to knock the corners off–carve off the corners at forty-five degrees to make the piece octagonal–and begin the rounding process. These corners roll in at the beak to form the top and bottom surfaces. The tip of the beak is left square and will be shaped much later. It’s always a good idea to leave extra wood in areas that may be particularly delicate.

Waterfowl heads are thickest at the base of the cheeks. The sides of their heads slant inward. Unlike ducks, with a pronounced cheek line, swans heads are simply tapered. Using a small hand plane I define the flat sides of the head.

More about this later.

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Just finished these two pieces before they go out. Commissions cost no more than stock pieces and are usually turned around in under two weeks.

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Last week I was able to squeeze in an couple of hours of birding at Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana.  Goose pond is a huge wetland that was recently established by re-claiming and flooding vast tracts of farmland.  I’ve been making regular visits to the area from two years now and am thrilled at the variety of birds that I am bale to see.

My last trip to Goose Pond, in March, was able to watch a pair of whooping cranes for nearly and hour.  I also observed huge rafts of migrating ducks.  On that trip I didn’t pack my scope.  I was working at an art fair and didn’t expect to have any time on the pond.

I returned last week with my scope, but left my camera behind.  (I left early and didn’t turn the lights on so as to wake my wife.) I could only get a couplle of long shots with my phone.

My target bird for this trip was the American White Pelican.  The spring flocks have been growing steadily at the pond and I wanted to get another look at these amazing and huge birds.  On my first stop I saw little but coots. I took a few minutes to talk to a bird savvy fisherman and he pointed out flock of the pelican reeling in the distance.  I drove in that direction, crested a hill and was thrilled to see between 200-300 pelican flying, swimming and going about their daily business.  The wind was screeming into my face, off the pond, so I didn’t stay too long.  I did not two immature bald eagles within the pelican flocks.  I presume they benefit from the pelicans’ group fishing tactics.

Upon leaving leaving three bobwhite quail crossed the road in front of me.  These birds, now seldom seen, were an important part of my walks in the woods as a kid.  They looked like miniature footballs with wings.  Another bird from earlier days, the eastern meadowlark, was spotted on roadsigns and fence posts.

I circles around the other side of the area–passing the site where we watched the whooping cranes a month before– and parked on a short rise above two ponds filled with ducks.  There I was able to spend some time, protected from the worst of the wind, and observe ducks.  There was waterfowls that I’ve spent time watching before–lesser scaup, mallards, coots, golden-eye and Canada geese — but there were some new to me.

My field guide was back home with my camera so I was limited to using iBird on my iPhone.  I found this very frustrating and am convinced that while I appreciate iBird and its applications in the field it has limitations.  I checked and rechecked all of the “duck” descriptions on iBird and coiuld find no matches to the birds that I was seeing.

The problem, of course, is that not all ducks have “duck” in their name.  A mallard is a mallard, not a mallard duck.  In a print field guide related birds are listed and illustrated together.  It’s a simple matter to flip through the duck section and make visual comparisons.

My two mystery ducks were a gadwall and blue-winged teal–two ducks without duck names.

No pictures, but a great day and a few more birds to add to my “to-carve” list.

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Here’s another chance to hear it.

From the Traditional Arts Indiana website

Webinar recording access: Social Networking for Artists and Performers

Social Networking for Artists and PerformersThe latest Traditional Arts Indiana webinar, “Social Networking for Artists and Performers: Developing and Maintaining an Online Presence”, is available as a video recording at: http://connect.iu.edu/p6upmf4ohax/.

When you click the link, you will be taken to a new window that shows everything exactly as it happened. You can watch this video at any time to see how social media can help professionalize your folk practice, whether it’s weaving, pottery, or – as it is with our friend and host, Geoff Davis – woodcarving.

WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy: these are just a few of the topics Geoff covered in his roughly 50-minute talk. There’s plenty to learn and explore in this presentation, so be sure to take advantage.

Read the rest here…

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I love this show and the fine women that run it, but it didn’t look like I was going to be able to participate this year.

Good news–Circumstances have shifted a bit and 50 Little Birds will be on hand.  We are a late entry so please do what you can to let the folks of Bloomington know the birds will be on hand!

Bloomington Handmade Market

Bloomington Convention Center

Saturday, April 7, 2012

10:00 – 5:00

Thanks to Sally, Nicole, Mia and Jessica!

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