Monday, December 28, 2009
This summer I had the pleasure of seeing a local artisan (Phillippe Faraut) work clay in his studios, he is an amazing artist and most happily shared some of his techniques. So the wife and I trekked to the local Ceramics supplier and picked up some tools and 100 lbs. of clay. I spent some of my most recent free time building two sculpting stands and with the recent holiday stretch I have been able to take some vacation and got around to creating this gentlemen on the left. I am by no means an expert when it comes to working in clay and would only rate myself as a rookie. Using the knowledge gained from my studio visit and employ some of the recent knowledge I gained by studying anatomy I was able to create him quite simply and yes I now know what a "Zygomatic arch" is and it's location.
The clay being utilized is VERY pliable and easy to mold without having some of the 'memory' and stiffness found in other clays. It is true though that if I would like this to be permanent I would have to have it fired (unlike some other products that can be baked). Since clay is not the final medium but rather wood then permanence is not a factor. You may have noticed that the piece is not completely finished but can be easily completed in a matter of about an hour. The progress shown in the picture took about 3 hours of fun time.
As far as the design goes I did nothing special to prepare but knew the headshape and basic essence of the face. I let caricature and anatomy steer me the rest of the way. Once completed I will transfer a side profile to a block of my finest basswood and let the chips fly...I'll try and post pictures as progress is made.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
So if you have a chance, DO check this out as it will give you some insight as to the artistic effort he puts forth.
I would send a personal thank you to Marv for all he continues to give to the rest of us, our art has been forever blessed by your contributions.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Having said all this, I must be honest and say that this carving is really not "my style". I was shown the carving prior to deciding on the class. Now this might have you asking "why would I spend the money on a class that is going to carve a figure I personally would not normally carve?". The answer is quite simple though. My artistic skills are the composite of all types of knowledge from all sorts of places, media, and instructors. I attend classes in the hopes that I will learn a new technique, or techniques I would care not to repeat. The more methods I have at my disposal the greater of variety of carvings I can produce. So when you are contemplating your next course ask yourself "what can this instructor offer me?" Once you have an answer to that you can determine whether or not you would be getting your hard earned monies worth.
As for this class and this carving...I learned to simulate ruffles and scrolls. Something that will come into use in the future, as for the carving I am sure my friend will cherish it as it truly represents the eccentric individual he is.
Friday, November 27, 2009
In the picture shown at left is Andrew Loomis' "Fun with a Pencil" a great instructional drawing book that was purchased off of Ebay. Also in the picture are Cartoon Animation which I use to help me design motion into my carvings, Tales from the Crypt which has great physcal detail of the human body especially when it comes to expression, and the last book is Warner Brothers "That's all Folks" which is a wonderful history of the Animators and how their work and efforts grew with time and effort. These books as well as a whole lot more provide me the basic information I need to create the effect I am looking for. So next time you are at your library browse through the drawing and animation books as well as books about the things you know (I grew up reading Tales from the Crypt comics and watching Bugs Bunny). For more immediate results you can always do a Google image search too.
Enjoy the holiday weekend...carve something!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
When this golden opportunity came about I wanted to make sure a portion of the day was dedicated to my love of Caricature Carving. I also like a nice breakfast too, something I do not get everyday. So every Sunday morning I get up and head down to the local diner and tuck myself away in the farthest corner booth and break out my sketch pad. Over the last few years I have been working to break away and not just carve what everyone else is carving but rather to try and be able to carve what I would like to carve ( please understand this is my desire and in no way should be construed as a slam against those who love to carve the "standards") . Even if you are not looking towards designing your own carvings, if you draw at regular intervals, your carving skills will improve. All you need is something to draw on and my personal favorite a Ticonderoga #2. If you'd like to take it a little deeper, then I would recommend you visit your local art store, pick up a simple sketch pad, a kneadable eraser (the gray blob in the picture), and some Prismacolortm Col-Erase pencils (blue works well). The visit to the Art store will not break the bank. If it's truly an Art Store (not a major craft chain store) you should take some time to browse, there are a lot of neat tools and methods that can come in handy.
For something to draw pick a copy of someones sketches and just start copying (a sketchbook from Bobby Chiu at Imaginism.com is shown in picture). This practice will help you overcome one of the biggest issues we face...overcoming our subconcious tendancy to see things as a "whole". When we look at someone we tend to see their face, rather than seeing the parts that make up the whole. Being able to break this down allows us to accentuate a feature appropriately to the point of Caricature. Besides, doing it is just plain fun. It does not have to have a purpose, just let it be enjoyable. Sure some days will be better than others, but who cares? You are doing it for yourself and in doing so you are nourishing your artistic soul.
Ok, maybe thats just a little TOO DEEP...just go out there and enjoy the journey!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
When it comes to knives most folks buy standard knives and just buy varying lengths and shapes. The upsweep knife is gaining popularity with the carving community for its ability to provide a nice clean cut. The two featured above are well made (really like the comfort of both handle shapes and Ralph's teardrop fits well in the palm) and perform as you would expect with a good amount of flex in each blade.
The only drawback to an upsweep is if you are not paying attention you can cut yourself deeply by pressing against what "you thought" was the spine. It's a painful lesson and you only have to do it once to learn a valuable lesson (put your glasses on!). I did it while checking out some beautiful knives at a show, my embarassment could not be understated...DUH!
At one point or another carvers learn that to get a proper clean cut with a knife you have to utilize a slicing cut. That is to say that, on a draw, the knife is pulled through the grain while the blade is also being pulled across the grain. If you are unsure about this, grab your knife and scrap and give it a shot, do a few draw cuts and watch your hand motion it should not only be a pull but rather a "slicing" pull where the blade is also shifted in the direction of the hand you are using (to the right for right-handers and vice versa). While a slicing cut can be using a standard blade, the upsweep blade accomplishes this much easier and this ability is greatly enhanced when performing "scissor" or "push" cuts.
The upsweep knife enhances the ability to achieve beautiful cuts in tight places and at least one deserves a place in a Caricature Carver's toolset. These two already have an "official" place in my box and I am sure they will get a lot of use!
TIP: When watching a demonstration from your instructor most students look at the wood to see where the "cut" is taking place. Change your thought process and watch the carvers hand you'll learn a lot more about carving watching how they make their cut rather than the cut itself. Remember the "cut" is only good for that particular portion of the carving while the "method of the cut" can be used over and over again.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
As you can see on the left there is quite a variety of styles (Intermediate-size and back-bent gouge styles not shown) each having their own merits. The full-size gouges are generally used on larger pieces and can be used by hand or in combination with a mallet.
The palm-size and micro gouges are most commonly used by Caricature Carvers and since we generally use a large variety of types (sweeps) with multiple sizes the compactness of these tools allows for greater portability and ease of use when carving smaller figures.
Each of the styles above is used for a specific cut and its angle to the wood while performing the cut is different. Carvers should experiment with each and should practice inverting tools and making cuts (quite handy on nose bridges!) as well as learning to use each tools cutting surface in different ways. An example of this would be to make a cut just using the side of a V-tool. Having this knowledge gives the carver that many more options.
I cannot stress enough the importance of learning to keep your tools sharp and protect the cutting surfaces. Dropping a tool or allowing a tool to glance off another can cause damage to the cutting surface and the object here is to keep the perfect edge.
While the tools shown in the picture above only represent 3 manufacturers these styles are made by several tool makers and its up to you to make the best decision possible before buying. When considering manufactures its important to compare like styles, sizes, and sweeps as this will give a good indication of how the manufacturer generally makes its tools. Some manufactures incorporate a considerable amount more steel in the stem of the tool. It also important to inspect the tool for balance. This meaning to look at a gouge to ensure the the metal is even and balanced throughout, you do not want to buy a tool that has more metal on one side than another as it will not cut properly. IT'S YOUR MONEY, BE CHOOSY!!
Monday, November 2, 2009
To give you a little background, the toolbox was carved and assembled by a gentlemen in the Carolinas well known for his Chip Carving abilities as well as overall woodworking skills. I met Frank about 4 years ago when I traveled down to Charlotte for the first of many Woodcarving competitions I would attend. Turns out he is originally from about 20 minutes east of the old hacienda and happens to know the great-grandparents of my grandchildren, needless to say it truly is a small world. I had chided Frank earlier in the day that the box did not have a large enough place for a Caricature Carver to keep his knives (joklingly of course) and while I do love his work and this box is gorgeous I believe I will turn his good deed into two, and raffle it off at our local clubs meet next spring. Great job on the box Frank and we appreciate your donation.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
For me it's a time to get together with friends and see what is new in the world of Caricature Carving. I hope to get together with Allen Goodmen and check out his knife offerings (been saving my pennies). Its also a chance to add to my woodcarving collection, I hear there are some Hobos and Santas that will be passing through.
If your in the area drop in, it's free, and they even hand out free apples!!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
For more info visit their website:
Friday, October 23, 2009
Please understand that tools can vary by manufacturer but usally are pretty close to one another on sweeps.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A: It's as simple as 3 dimensions or 2.
A cutout is simply a block of wood where 2 dimensions of a pattern (front and side) are cut from a block usually with a bandsaw.
A roughout is formed from a duplicator where the excess wood is cut away with a router. This method removes a greater amount of wood.
When purchasing either of these it is typical to receive multiple pictures or a copy of the pattern showing both views.
Both Cutouts and Roughouts are available from individual carvers, instructors, and retailers. If you are buying in person take the time to inspect the wood and pick the best one. There is no guarantee that you won't find a surprise in the wood, but a careful inspection usually will eliminate most of the issues. Also pay attention to the color of the wood, the color should be pale. Be on the lookout for knots (can appear as tiny blemishes on the wood but when cut into can be much larger).
As for price, that will vary greatly so it will be up to you to decide if it's a good deal or not. Carving from a cutout or roughout is a good way to get started in the hobby and its even easier when a companion book or DVD is followed. Also ask other carvers, they can usually point out a good source for these items.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
In case you are just joining this carving community I should say that carving exchanges are quite common and it is a great way to being your own wood carvng collection.
So this carving will be heading south where he will now take up residence with a good friend and fellow carver. I sure hope Big Dave enjoys him...
Friday, October 16, 2009
Of course with any type of wood carving comes the risk of injury and carving injuries are usually the result of a momentary lapse in judgement. Its usually occurs when the carver disregards what he knows to be safe in order to get that one last cut in, or when he becomes distracted. That being said lets talk a little about safety so that you can spend more time carving and less time figuring out how you are going to explain the $50 emergency room co-pay to your other half!!
One rule to understand is that a large number of injuries come from the carver using dull tools. The use of dull tools causes the carver to exert a greater amount of force which in turn results in accidents. Make sure all tools being utilized are "Wood Carving Sharp" (I will define this furtherin an upcoming post) before and during use. Trust me a cut from a dull blade hurts a lot worse than one from a sharp one.
Use safety equipment. This means a carvers glove (I have in case my primary fails), the glove is worn on the opposite hand as it usually holds the wood being carved. A thumb guard can also be used if desired. The other item is VetWrap made by 3M, this is sold usually at a farm store in 4" wide rolls. The roll in the picture has been cut down to a 1" width. VetWrap is not made for stopping a sharp blade but is worn on the carving hand to diminish the chance of minor cuts while padding the hand to prevent blisters.
Safety Tip: Employ the "Line of Fire" rule. This meaning to keep any appendages(fingers) from being in line with a cut. That way if you slip there is a good chance it will not result in injury.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Many a discussion has been had in the Caricature Carving world related to this, with seldom an agreement. As with most things in the carving world it is open to interpretation which does not put limits on individual feelings.
It seems caricature was really derived from early published political cartoons as can be seen in articles on Wikipedia. As far as the woodcarving world goes, Caricature Carving is seeing steady growth in popularity. This growth can be attributed to many carvers through the years including the likes of the Tryggs (father CJ, and sons Carl Olaf, Nils, and Lars), Emil Janel, Andy Anderson, and of course, Harold Enlow. Please forgive any omissions but these are some real big-hitters when it comes to this style of figure carving.
In the years since I have been carving (15-20) three major items of note stick out for me, the first being the creation of an organization for the promotion of the style, the Caricature Carvers of America. This group holds an annual competition for just this style. The second for me was Peter Ortel's "Love" taking the first Best-Of-Show awarded to a Caricature Carving at the Affiliated Woodcarvers 2000 Congress, the show being the premier US Woodcarving show for non-birds. An image of this carving can be seen on their website (http://www.awcltd.org/past_shows/Old%20Show%20Reports/2000/2000%20Highlights.htm) .
The third is related to my own personal taste and that would be the one-piece creations of Marv Kaisersatt. If you have yet to see one, just do a google search for him or even better yet you can see a good portion of them on the Affiliated Woodcarvers website. He has consistantly won many awards over the past 10-15 years.
In writing this I feel I would be remiss in leaving out others who are well known and have had a large influence in the past 10 years. The one receiving the least credit but who has shared much would be Tom Wolfe. He has published many a book sharing his secrets in such a way as to allow many a carver to find enjoyment with this form of art. Many a time I have seen a version of one of his hounds or his Civil War soldier. I have had the pleasure of meeting this gentlemen and participated in many a Whittling Competition he has sponsored. Others who have contributed much with their designs, teaching, roughouts would be Phil & Vicki Bishop (excellent teachers and roughouts), and Pete LeClair (the man with a thousand faces), and Gary Falin (the man has a way with eyes). There are many more out there who are sharing with us and I look forward to discovering what each has to teach. Strike up a conversation with a Caricature Carver, they have much to teach and they don't mind sharing (albeit sometimes for a cost)
One trait of Caricature Carvers is that they do like to express their sense of humor in many ways. It makes for exciting dinner conversation thats fer sure! (Be wary as they do like to celebrate your birthday)
Getting back on the topic of Caricature, a good example of Caricature can be found in one of the US's most irreverent publications, MAD magazine. Tom Richmond does art work for MAD and has a fantastic blog that discusses the art of Caricature (http://www.tomrichmond.com/blog/). Tom posts frequent updates and usually is good for a chuckle at least once a week. He also has published a tutorial on drawing in the Caricature style in several segments. Much can be learned from what he is sharing.
I was recently asked, "why Caricature Carving?". I have given the question much thought and I would have this observation, when someone observes a bird or fish carving they remark on how it appears often by critically comparing it to animals they've seen, but when you watch a person looking at a Caricature Carving they often just smile. At that moment, your art has affected someone in a positive way. The memory of that image is often enough to keep you carving for years...
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Ross has recently decided to sell his business (West Falls Products) which include the OarCarver pocket knives we are familiar with, to the very capable Bob Stadtlander. The link to Bob's website follows.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
As a collector I feel I am a little behind as I only have about a bakers dozen. I am sure I am only considered an amateur given this tally, but I promise to do better.
At left I show a few from my collection, these are some of the more popular knives out there. In my travels it would seem that the Wells/Shipley is the most popular, while a Helvie can be found in most toolboxes (comfortable handle), the Denny is a good all around knife that comes with a rounded spine, the Dunkles come in many shapes and sizes, and the Butz detail is one of the most flexible out there (mine came unsharpened). Other brands are available (Lyons, Ferguson, Cape Forge, etc.) so a carver really has options. There are also custom knives being made out there as more carvers are experimenting in creating there own.
For many of us, we simply started with an inexpensive bench knife. The one shown below was sold at a
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
To understand Caricature Carving you must start with the most commonly used wood, Basswood. Basswood is of the tree genus Tilia, or as it is most frequently called, the Linden tree. To us woodcarvers it supplies us with Basswood. This tree is found across North America and Europe and in the states is most likely planted as a specimen such as the gorgeous tree shown in my neighbor's yard. The tree grows in a triangular shape. This tree was photographed today and is showing the stress of the approach of fall as we are experiencing nightly lows in the lower 40's. To better understand the tree there are actually 30 trees in the genus, that's a lot of flavors and I can't begin to understand what grows where. For more information check out the Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilia
Not that we really need to know which of the trees supply the best wood, there is already a preferred origin of what is commonly thought the best, that being the far north of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The wood emanating from this region in some fashion benefits from cold weather as it easily distinguishable from others with its white color and clear grain(block shown on left). Wood from other regions tend to be yellow in color and harder to carve. The lesser woods also have streaks and defects within the grain (block shown on right).
The alternative to Basswood is Butternut, which due to a disease affecting this species is becoming rare. Butternut is considered an excellent carving wood as well, however, it is seen in the Caricature category less frequently than seen in Realistic or Relief carving.
No matter what, the best advice when it comes to wood is to buy the best you can get. Over time you will be able to distinguish the difference and get more enjoyment from carving.