Monday, September 5, 2016

Dayton...errr...Wilmington 2016 Artistry in Wood

Ryan Olsen-cast of Caricatures
 Another road trip...this time to Wilmington Ohio for the 2016 Artistry in Wood show.  I wasn't sure what to expect but the CCA organization was in attendance and couldn't pass on seeing the gang and talking carving.
This year's show was a challenge as most folks know...the old venue near the Dayton Airport was sold and closed which left the club seeking a venue worthy of attendance.  They found one in the guise of the Roberts Centre just down the road in Wilmington.  Of course the standard November date was not available so they had to go with what they could achieve which turned out to be Labor Day weekend.  While all of the normal attendees could not make it due to the date change a large number did (Heinecke, Woodcarving Illustrated, The Woodcraft name a few).  The quality of the pieces on display were worth the trip with the CCA Members displaying some of their wares joined by carvers of the likes Terry Brasher (Aerosmith carving was outstanding!),  Dylan Goodson (some great chain mail carved on a knight), Fred Zavadil (amazing relief carving that makes you drool), Al Jordan (hey he's from my club!!!...with his outstanding display of birds), Gary Falin (wow, he has stepped up his carving game fer sure) and many more.
Now, I only attend this show around every 4 years (usually timing it with CCA visits) the show is truly a must-see.  All caricature carvers should attend at least once in their carving lifetime as it exposes you to a wide array of talent and vendors. 
Hmm, now on to the venue...the Roberts Centre is conveniently located right off exit # 50 off Route 71 (Wilmington is SE of Dayton).  The venue includes a hotel (Holiday Inn-currently being renovated),  a restaraunt (standard american fare), and the Centre.  The show venue is truly a step up from the old location (appears to be a recent build) with ample bathrooms and space to accomodate the show.  As far as accomodations,  like most folks we were unable to acquire a room at the hotel as it was booked by the time we decided to go.  We did stay 2 exits up the road near a Tanger Outlet and others stayed at a nearby Holiday Inn Express,  no complaints here however room prices are higher than what we experienced in Dayton and that is a concern for a large number of folks.
Overall my hat goes off to Dayton Carvers Guild...they did an excellent job of adapting to change and from the lines waiting to get in it appeared attendance was not too far off.  I know that the club is seeking to return to their old dates, but as far as venue goes I think they have a good one.  Great job!

Yes, it's a holiday and that means I get to carve...are you carving? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This is what mentoring is all about...

Best In Class Carving by Rob Lucci (2016)
...another wonderful month of carving for sure! 
  Me and the gentlemen I "encourage" took to the Erie County Fair that is held each year outside of Buffalo, NY.  The Fair, if Wikipedia is to be believed, is the largest in New York State and the 3rd largest in the US.
  Rob, Jim, and myself packed up some carvings and threw in with the Buffalo crowd for a good old competition and as you can see from the picture we had a measure of success.  (Rob having the greatest success)  Each of us was able to walk away with shiny new ribbons and also some extra carving money as well!   
  As you probably know if you are a regular reader of this blog I started mentoring these gents a few years back and man has it payed back in spades.  I enjoy seeing their success and watching them grow in the art. 
  This year I estimate I will have been carving for ~ 25 years now,  and through the years one thing I have noticed is the sense of family we Caricature Carvers share.  As we all know times are changing with many interests trending towards the electronic age.  Knowing this it is up to us to share our art and encourage others to join us.  Who knows, you might get the same enjoyment I am getting while growing our family.
  It's another hot one here in Western NY,  sunny and dry...a perfect reason to sit in the AC and get some carving done.  I hope you are doing the same!

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  (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 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 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 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 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!