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.