Thursday, October 22, 2009

Naiad Finished

Naiad was finished in time for her first show last week- after I waxed her in the motel room the night before. She came in second in her class, and the first place was also second best of show- so that was some good competition. The judges both liked her- I asked. Here are some photos of the finished carving:

There were many comments about how well I planned the grain of her fanny. Little did they know that it was a complete accident. That is just the way the grain goes.

She look peaceful and restful here, and that was the intent of the carving. Part of the way through the carving process I was sure I'd lost this feeling, but it is back and I'm pleased.

The face turned out OK, but next time I will get it better. More planning and a preliminary sculpture in clay would have made my job easier in the long run.
Thanks for your interest in my work. You can see more projects and blogs on my web site:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All Finished but the Shouting

I thought you may like to see one of my work spaces. I just cleared 2 years worth of scrap wood and some tools off the surface so that I could sit down and do some serious deatil work. There were scraps from the harp project- so that gives you some idea about how often I clean up.

I got a little carried away with finding negative spaces and carved through my Naiad's heel. That would not work, so I took some scraps from the project and carved some filler pieces. After gluing them in place and then recarving the areas, adding some filler around the edges and I am hopeful it won't be too noticeable. On the bright side- I like the new negative space between her left foot and right thigh.

These are her 'good' sides. Some of the others look a little strange. I cannot figure out why now, but for the next figure I'll have a better reference and plan. Notice the stream below her right knee. This was one of the recommendations from some helpful people. Many suggested the rocks and I'm sure that is the best decision.

I think she looks a lot better now with a hairline and some texture in her hair. The idea is to have a smooth base, water, and figure with hair holder. Then the rocks and hair are textured for contrast. It will probably not be so obvious once some finish is applied, but I'm hopeful it will carry through and look good.
Tomorrow I'll sand her with 220 grit paper and retexture the stones and apply the first coat of finish. I leave here on Sunday and it would be nice if she were finished by then.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pedestal Connundrum

Here are two possible variations for a base for my lady. The first one would be like a pillow on a trapezoid. I like this idea- but since she was carved to be sitting on top of a flat I'm not sure I could sink he into a softness.
The second is a design that would raise the figure above the ground- but it looks awkward to me. Either one of these would be 'carved' mostly with the band saw, so it wouldn't take much of my rapidly diminishing time. I need to decide and do this now before I go on with the figure, so that the entire carving can get finished at one time. Please make a comment/suggestion here or send me an email:

First Sanding- Miracle

Yippee- look at what sanding does!!! For one, it makes her look like she has skin- always a good thing. For another, it helps me to see the form better without the distraction of gouge marks. I will be doing some more carving as I go along to fix things as I discover problem areas, but seeing this back was thrilling.

Here is a front view. As the limbs get more refined there are more negative spaces developing- with interesting shapes. All good.

The face is not too bad after sanding. The butternut will not hold much detail, so I'll be happy if it just looks human- eyes closed- and peaceful.

Sanding brought out the chunkiness of her left foot- so out came the gouges and a lot of wood came off the top and around the ankle. Better now.
There are still some inaccessible areas inside the figure that I need to get at least a little smooth. I have used my micro-motor tool a little for some of the detail areas that were especially difficult to get to. I've been using some sanding cones for the first time- and they work very well, but 99% has been hand sanding and my fingers are getting sore.


Now she is starting to look like a woman. All the limbs and some of the details are there and I like it so far. I think the shape of the head is finally correct, and the face is OK, though she still looks a little strange. Her left hand looks like a pancake- and that isn't good, but I think if I reduce the knee right there I'll find enough wood to meke it right.

I've experimented with a part in her hair- but I don't think I'll keep it. Adding a hairline of some sort does make the shape of the head better. The ponytail was the original plan and I'm going to keep it. I've made it longer and more curly because it looks better- and because it covers up a possible problematic area around the neck.
I'm think about changing her name to Celtic Woman since she is so tied up in knots- no kidding. I don't have time to do the shallow relief on the sides of the base, so I need another base idea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This is getting exciting. Seeing her come to life is so satisfying. So far no major goofs, though the head is still a little off and that left hand looks kinda impossible to fix. Nothing is impossible though- so I will do my best to fix it all up.

I have made a lot of refinements this week. The problemmatic left foot is looking much better. Hubby thinks a foot cannot do that move, but mine can, so hers can too.
The left arm is slimmer, and so is her waist. They may have to get slimmer yet to remain in proportion to the left thigh. Gotta watch it or she will look anorexic.

I like the looks of the back. The buttocks are rounded and there is more of a waist now. The grain of the butternut is going to look super when it is sanded and oiled. I can't wait. The right breast has been brought much more to the front as it would be with the turned body.

Left foot has a lot more form to it now, ankle slimmed and foot better defined. Left hand. . . gotta have it curved around the knee- will have to shorten leg in order to find some wood. Right arm also thinner and more graceful. Second photo shows yet another void- this one under her chin. I wasn't sure if I could make a hole there, but it worked out fine. Now I'll be able to refine the areas around there- chin/hand interface. Notice that the face is much different now- much nicer expression. I think the mellow look is better and what I am after.

She is still mighty rough looking, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It won't be long before I can start to refine muscles and other finer details. Unfortunately the butternut will not tolerate very fine details so the image will have to be slightly blurred. Next time I will use a better wood- like walnut.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Third Void

After prodigious effort and lots of sweat Naiad has another void- this one above her left leg. I was anxious about doing this, but I needed to be able to visualize the top of the leg as well as the location of the breasts. Looking at the photos it looks as though the hole should have been above the breasts, but at this point I don't see the room that would be necessary for that.

Here on the front and front right you can see some progress. Not as much as the hours I've spent would imply- since a terrible lot of time is spent in contemplation- like "duh- what do I do next?" Her right hand has been refined and located so that I could make sure that the cheek of the face ended up resting on the hand- not in mid air or half-way through the hand. I hate it when that happens. There has also been considerable thinning and rounding of the forms.

Pore 'lil thang still looks like a fullback but that is just so I still have enough wood for minor modifications as I go along. She will be thinning down and feminizing a lot real soon.

In the first of these face photos the orientation looks OK- though there was something I didn't like about it- didn't seem just right. I tilted and turned the carving so that I faced it head on and I could see my problems. On the right you can see that the vertical centerline is not bisecting the head- it is lopsided. That happened when I rashly decided to change the angle of the face. So either I need to put the face back to where it was- may not have a nose left if I do that- or recarve the head to match the face. Decisions, decisions.

Here is a close-up of the top of the head- where I spent many hours trying to figure out how to do the hair. I have the same problem with my own hair. Go figure. One thing for sure is that the shape of the skull does not change depending on the angle, so that is what needs to be correct before any more details are finessed. The hand/cheek connection looks good so far- thank goodness for small favors.
Thanks to taking these photos and talking about problems and solutions I think I know what to do next.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I See the Light

Thursday again and this time I'm happy to report holes in my carving. I didn't work on it much at all until today. I was working on the angle of the head and digging out where I was pretty sure there would be no body when I realized that I was going to connect up some of the 'innies' and end up with some voids. This is exciting because it will help me to better visualize the relationship between the limbs.

In this photo you can see light coming in from both under the left leg and under the left wrist. In case you are wondering about having enough wood on that left foot- so am I. I plan to push the ankle back as much as looks good. If all else fails I can point the toes downwards and have them clutching a stone- or something else supportive.

Here is the right side view showing the hole above the right thigh and under the left calf. Both holes end up in her 'lap'. Pore 'lil thang looks kinda like a trucker at this point. She will start to thin down soon though. I just hope I haven't removed too much wood from anyplace vital.

Here you can see that a whole bunch of wood has been removed from the face area so that the nose will stick out from the rest of the face. I learned from working on the self-portrait that a face should be at about 90 degrees working back from the tip of the nose. That is, that if you walk into a corner where 2 walls meet your nose should sit in the corner and your cheekbones touch the walls. Try it- it is true.
I'm enthused now to keep working on Naiad- I can see the light in the holes, and at the end of the tunnel. I have exactly one month to finish. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finding the Form

I went crazy the other day and spent almost all day on the carving- 6 hours. I was on a roll and when that happens it is best to just keep at it. Just like if you are messing up it is a good idea to stop and come back to the project later. I like the way the Naiad is starting to look. I can see where each limb needs to start and stop. I'm being careful to keep a dynamic gesture from every angle- no straight lines or 90 degrees. It still needs a lot of work, but at this point I am satisfied- approximately 20 hours into the project.

The red lines are drawn with a soft colored pencil using the photos and plans for guidance. I am trying to mark where I am sure I can remove some wood- then the line is gone too and I can reappraise the situation to see what to do next.

With these two left-side views you can see the difference another few hours made. The figure on the left was after maybe 3 hours of work, and the one on the right after another 3 hours.
I have to restrain myself from putting in details until I have everything where it belongs. I am a detail person and I want to put in toenails and eyelashes asap. Patience!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What now?!

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:


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