Thursday, August 27, 2009

What now?!

8/27/09
In the week since the last post I have worked on the block just a little. Sometimes life gets in the way of the important things- like creating a sculpture- LOL
It has been very difficult to 'see' where everything fits on this piece. There are so many overlaps that it has proven impossible to carve off big hunks of wood- since I don't know what to leave and what to take away. Yet.
This is as far as I'd gotten after about 5 hours of mostly standing around and staring at the wood- making marks and then carving them away:

As you can see- not much progress has been made. I have made a few tentative stabs at locating where the limbs are, and carving a little to define them. Chicken!
So, today I got some moxie and really started to study the reference photos and the block of wood. I also read some in the Ian Norbury books on carving the figure. That is when I discovered that I had gone about this all wrong. Shootola. He recommends using just one reference picture for making the patterns. That way the positions of everything will line up after sawing out the block. I'm afraid I may not have things lined up properly- maybe that is why I am having so much trouble seeing where things start and stop.

These four diagonal views show where I got after 4 hours today. I've decided to just leave everything kinda fat for now. Next time I will be able to see more clearly where all the parts fit and overlap. I will also first need to make certain that I have the essential gesture correct. It would be very easy to make everything about this figure square to the front, but she is turned and twisted and I need to not lose that characteristic. The shoulders- very critical- hope I haven't remove too much wood already. If so- she will just be a much skinnier lady.
Right now she is looking like something carved by Ernst Barlach:
http://tiny.cc/ntE3Y

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moment of Truth

8-20-2009
This was the moment if truth- cutting into this huge block of expensive wood knowing that a slip could ruin the whole project- or deftly remove one of my fingers. I knew it was going to be a close fit with the band saw that has a 6" resaw capacity- and a 6" block of wood. Hurrah- it fit with 1mm of extra space, with the blade guard removed. I will be very careful.

Here I have marked the outline with straight lines. I'm using a 1/2" wide band saw blade and it does not do very tight curves. Straight will be easier and safer.

After (carefully) making the cuts I stuck the cut-off bits back on so that I could safely cut the other dimension. Heavy-duty double-sided tape works well for this job. Always have a block supported on the bottom side when you are making the next cut.

Notice the straight lines for the next series of cuts on the second side. After that I took the tape off and got a look at the carving blank. Good grief! That doesn't look at all like my design. I have tried to determine what wood can be safely removed at this point- but I gave up. Maybe tomorrow I can look at it with fresh eyes and see the figure in that mess.
I knew I should have done this complex figure in clay first, since I have done that in the past (like with the Bluebird blog carving). Now I wish I had a three dimensional figure to look at. My powers of seeing in 3-D are pretty good- but not as good as I need for this. Lesson learned, again- for next time.

Naiad Carving in Butternut by Donna Menke

This will be the fifth blog (in as many years) that I have done in order to document a woodworking project. As I started to work on this yesterday I decided that for better or worse this was going to be interesting, and should be shared. You should be able to follow my progress from the very beginning to the end. . . however that may be. Firewood? Work of art? We will find out together.
For a look at some of my other carving projects check out my web site:
http://www.woodworks-by-donna.com
I took the reference photos of this young woman 4-5 years ago. I have planned to do this carving ever since. I had to find a suitable piece of butternut- and the gumption to get started. Now it is time to get to work.
I am naming the piece Naiad for the nymphs of trees- wood is from trees- and I like working with wood. This is to appease all those ghosts of trees felled for my projects.
I have long wanted to try to carve a nude female figure. Figure sculpture by Ian Norbury has been the inspiration for this project, though he usually works in Walnut and I'm working in butternut. Another wood sculpture I admire is Fred Cogelo, who works in butternut exclusively. If my piece is 1/10th the quality of their work I will be satisfied.
To see more of my work please visit my web site: www.woodworks-by-donna.com
8-19-2009
Dug out the reference photos and traced over the major lines to make a pattern.
Transfered these lines to the 6x6x12" block of butternut wood.

Before I can do any cutting out of the blank with the band saw I need to check to make sure that both views line up so they will come out OK when carved. Darn- the feet are not consistent. The lower one in one view is the right foot and the lower one in the other view is that of the left. Back to the drawing board. This would have been easier to correct in the drawings, but I did it on the block and I think it is right now.
I split the difference between where the two feet ended, and redrew both feet to end up on that line. At least I think this will work. I had some trouble keeping the feet straight, so I labeled them and drew in a top view as a visual aid.
I really like this image. I first saw it in ad ad in a newspaper- it was 1x2", but it caught my eye. I find it graceful and not too revealing. I didn't want to do a 'naked' nude, but I didn't want to add clothing or a wrap. I think this fits the bill.
I'm not sure what I will do with the base yet. For now it will give me a hunk of wood to hold in the vise and with hold-down while I carve her. I may decide to do a series of relief carving around the sides of the base- trees? Leaves? Any suggestions?

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