Monday, August 15, 2016

Toto we're not in Kansas anymore...


Scarecrow handcarved by Jim Hiser (2016)
...true but we were in East Berlin, PA!!!

Just got back from a weekend hosted by Jim Hiser and the Conewago Carvers with renowned instructor Chris Hammack.  Me and the Rochester gang took his 2-day Caricature class that was held in the East Berlin Community Center.

It was our first visit to this venue and I could tell from our host that this would be worth the almost 6 hour drive.  Jim does a great job of facilitating and supporting the instructor and students with ample communication and direction.  Jim is also a recent inductee into the Caricature Carvers of America(CCA) organization.  A well deserved honor (see his 2nd Best of Show carving in the CCA competition in 2015).

Jim has carved himself a little niche with his wonderful scarecrows that utilize a Chris Lubkemannesque technique for generating the required straw (see image).  These whimsical scarecrows are a great demonstration of movement and you can see the pride and skill in each piece.

As for the class,  Mr. Hammack has, as expected, outdone himself as his varied and constantly changing roughouts provide an elevated challenge for the caricature carver and as demonstrated by his Barflies great interest has followed.  Chris is a patient and knowledgable instructor and should you get the chance to spend time with him,  it is money well spent.  Chris and the whole flock of CCA members will be attending this year's Artistry in Wood show that will be held Labor Day in Wilmington, Oh.  Each of the members will be displaying some of their works. 

As far as future classes in East Berlin go...Jim states that he will have a handle on 2017 classes in early November.  To register you can either keep on eye on copies of Chip Chats or visit http://www.conewagocarvers.com/  (Note: the facility is well lit and ample power is provided...overall a perfect setting for letting the chips fly)

Well this class has got my carving juices flowing...what are you doing to keep the chips flying?
 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The littlest details...

Pirate "go-by" by C. Hammack

...have the greatest impact!

Ok, so your carving and you have done everything to make sure your figure has the proper appearance (i.e. no 3rd leg) and you're done right?? 
It has been my experience carving and collecting others works I have noticed that while ensuring your figure has the proper appearance (e.g. bone joints are in their proper locations) the carvings having the most visual impact have some of the  greatest details through some of the smallest cuts.  These cuts were created by knives some by V-gouges and yet others by veiners or u-gouges.
These cuts can have a great impact but only when done properly.  Some of the best carvings I have seen have many tiny triangle cuts and small cuts,  these must be practiced to ensure the proper result. 
Ok so what do I mean...well...there are two things that jump to mind the first of which is something all good carvers know...your tools must be at their sharpest (not just sharp but really really sharp)...the tool should glide through the wood.  The second item is the the cut should result in the proper planes being generated that will display the proper highlight or shadow.  Essentially all cuts we make create highlights and shadows which in turn gives the appearance of depth.  The use of a wide V-tool will open the resulting cut to more light than a narrow V-tool...this is why the vendors sell us multiple angle varieties of v-tools as there are uses for both styles depending on what the carver is trying to achieve.
A good example is to examine the image provided and look to the scar Chris cut on the nose of the pirate...he created steep, narrow and deep cuts to ensure when he added the strong paint tone that the scar would jump out at you (good composition).  Also note the bag under the eye and the cuts made there. 
If you move on to the mustache it has been enhanced with what appears to be a veiner/u-gouge result in a hint towards the hairs that reside there. 
Of course if you examine the image you will find other examples of this.  Having these examples for you to examine can be quite helpful in advancing your abilities and result in carvings that have a greater impact.
Just something to think about while your whittling by the camp fire or at that park.

I'm carving, are you??
 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ornament Demonstration

Ornament by A. Filetti (2015)
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!

Well back in August our woodcarving clubs executive board met to set the year's meeting agendas and for the month of November we decided on ornament carving talks.  The carving at the left is a result of my presentation to our club.  It is a simple relief carving taken from a holiday card found at a local dollar store for less than the expected dollar.  I made some minor modifications to the design to make it my own and using carbon paper I transferred the pattern to a 1/4" block of basswood.  I then spent time whittling my image and painted using acrylics.  Nothing too complicated with the piece and it can be turned out with a minimal amount of effort.  So when you receive a holiday card save the ones that you might be able to use as a pattern and throw them into your Artists Morgue for later use.
I hope this message finds all of you in the carving spirit and maybe this will provide some simple inspiration.  Its cold outside...oh what a great day to carve!!  So will you carve???

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I've got my copy...

Caricature Carvers of America's Concepts to Caricatures
...so I just learned of the CCA's new book Concepts to Caricatures and was able to obtain a copy right out of the gate.  The book gives us insight into the design efforts of 26 CCA members with the highlight being Chris Hammack's "The Pitch" (really a series of 5 carvings depicting the various stages a baseball pitcher goes through in order to deliver his specialty).  Chris's article takes you step-by-step through the creation of one of the carvings in the series, and the series is a great study of motion.  As always you get your money's worth with Chris.
While I have not perused all 160 pages of the book, it is loaded with both pictures and content that make it worth the suggested price ($25).  The both includes patterns for those who want to give a particular carving a try and there is also a bonus picture gallery of carvings by both the active and emeritus membership.  The book's ISBN:  978-0-7643-4977-5  and is available via Amazon.com which appears to be selling for as low as $20.  A worthy investment for your reference library.

We all need some inspiration...with this you should be carving!  (Time to make sure your tools are sharp...like it or not winters a comin'!)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A good effort...

Meter Maids A Comin'
A. Filetti - 2015















  Well I hope everyone has had a good summer,  the weather here in the Northeast has been a bit weird the entire year, however the summer has been sunny with neither too little or too much precipitation.  This allowed me and the clan to carve on many occasions in the out of doors,  which is great considering that for 1/3 of the year we spend in overcast hibernation.
  As per normal I spent my time getting ready to compete in the annual Caricature Carvers of America competition...something I look forward to each year.  At the start of the summer I already had two submissions ready for travel and was working on a Mitch Cartledge roughout (Doc).  This brought me to my most recent conundrum...how to present the carving.
  It has been my experience that in the past carvings without a base do not fair well in competition an not wanting a simple pre-finished base I had an idea.  I decided to place him in a scene.  I checked the rules and the rules did not explicitly forbid placing a caricature carving in a scene and entering the carving in the roughout class.  Well of course the carving did not place in this years competition, which leaves me to ponder if the scene was the reason for it not placing.  Only the judges will know for sure.
  Having known about the competition concern going in, I just could not help myself.  The roughout was a fun one and the scene tells a story about a man seeing the meter maid coming, the parking meter has expired and all of his coins have fallen out of a hole in his jacket pocket and are resting comfortably in the storm drain.  The design was fun from the get-go, and getting the composition to gel was a challenge I sorely needed.  The carving is painted in Acrylics over a thinned coat of boiled linseed oil.  It was sealed with Deft and a coat of BriWax was applied.  Overall a fun piece that will bring a smile to my face for years to come.
  So the next time you get that itch to be creative, don't let a set of competition rules dictate your creativity but rather be as creative as you want and let the competition chips fall where they may.  I know this was the case for this carving and I absolutely have no regrets.
  Our summer days are waning,  grab a knife and a block of wood and go sit a spell under a shade tree...your soul will be better for it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Whittling away at life's problems one shrimp at a time...

Bart holding court
  Well its been a busy first half of summer here in Western NY,  but I am happy to say that it also did include some carving and better yet it was with a cast of caricatures.
Each spring Mr. Bart Wilson, and his better half Miss Donna, host a weekend gathering of carvers where we all get to sit back and carve without a care in the world (i.e. just turn on the old black and white westerns and get to carvin').  There truly is nothing better.
  Carvers from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee joined me there.  It truly was like a family gathering as a menagerie of hounds provided first rate comfort and entertainment.  Bart and Miss Donna are first rate in hosting and we were treated to a wonderful Low Country Boil on Saturday night...awesome!
  Now you might be asking what was carved that weekend...well it really was not of great import as we were with our carving family,  having the occasional adult beverage and regaling each other with carving tales.
  At the end we were surrounded with chips, had the opportunity to see a large carving collection,  bellies were full, and stresses relieved.  That is what carving with family is like and it is one of the best attributes of caricature carvers...fellowship.
  A hearty thank you goes out to Bart and Donna for their hospitality, they were magnificent and I hope to return for future gatherings.
  This is how carving should be...and I wish you the same.  It's a beautiful summer day, get out and carve (and carve with your family if you can)!!

Saturday, May 2, 2015