Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dull Tools make for a bad carving's something that helps!

While out in the mid-west carving with Marv and the gang at Whillock's Woodcarving I struck up a conversation with a kindly gentlemen from I-O-WAY, Mr. Roger Beane.  Roger is a former schoolteacher and an excellent woodcarver as well as a good steward of the hobby we love.  The conversation started out discussing the amazing collection of tool protectors,  some of you may recall an article of his ingenous method for creating carved knife sheaths (one was carved like Elvis).  Well the two of us were discussing with Marv the different kinds of tool steel and the topic of sharpening came up.  Roger was kind enough to demonstrate the method he uses and pointed me in the direction of Chris Whillock and a particular DVD on the topic.  The DVD was from Everett Ellenwood titled "SHARPENING SIMPLIFIED".  So far I have view the intoriduction segments and the chapter on knife carving (of course).  The demonstration was performed using Water Stones with clear directions on how to prepare and maintain the stones.  The introductory sections show the different manual sharpening options (no power tools) from water stones to oil stones and on to diamond stones.  The DVD goes into grit and cost comparisons between these solutions which should be a benefit to all looking for supporting information.

The instructional section related to knives goes through the complete set of steps required to bring your tools to the proper sharpness and goes into to an adequate amount of detail explaining what the proper shape should be and also how you can tell when you have completed each step.

The DVD also has sections for sharpening your gouges (standard and micro) and v-tools.

While I do not claim to be an expert at sharpening or metallurgy, this regular Joe recommends this instructional DVD for both the Beginner and Novice carver.  This information contained within is very helpful and if used properly will enable your enjoyment of the woodcarving hobby.  If you are just starting out in the hobby keeping your tools sharp is extremely important and buying this DVD before buying your first tools would not be a bad idea.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Carvin with Marvin

Well I haven't had much time for carving but I did get to carve with Marv.  This past May I made my wasy to the subdued little town of Faribault, MN for a class I long desired.  I believe the woodcarver we become, is the sum of all our experiences and influences.  In my case my carving is heavily influenced by Marv Kaisersatt.  I like the way he challenges himself and the level of complexity and study that go into his designs.  I also appreciate a good sense of humor and find that we have similar tastes.  If you enjoy caricature and have not seen this mans work,  seek it out as you are in for a treat.
  I have had the fortune of speaking with Marv on a couple of previous occasions and I was overjoyed to see that he is willing to share his knowledge with the rest of us.  Having a dream of carving with him and learning as much as I can I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was offering a design and carving class in his home at Ivan Whillock's studio.  Needless to say I leapt at the chance and made the trek to the upper midwest.  The funny thing is that the majoirty of my fellow students came from the East and could have just rented a bus and picked up folks along the way.  Starting in Long Island, through my hometown of Rochester, up into Canada, through Michigan and around. 
  As for the location Faibault is a nice place to visit,  pleanty of accomodation choices, good food (nice homegrown restaraunts) and my favorite "The Coffee Shop".  Accomodation prices were very reasonable and it was really a personal choice as to where to stay.
  The class itself lived up to my expectations (strengthening my designs) and included a bonus trip to one of the most outstanding man-caves a carver could have...Marv's apartment.  As most folks know Marv does not generally sell his work however a piece might come up for auction at a charity once in a while.  The multiple figure pieces you see him compete with at the yerly "Congress" competition held in Iowa he still owns..and they are more impressive in person.  The biggest item of note were the items I had not seen before and the creativity within these pieces.  Simply outstanding work.
  So if you are a carver and are looking for an outstanding getaway to carve and expand your woodcarving knowledge, you can't go wrong with this class.   

Note: The topic of Marv's book and the possibility of a second printing were discussed and Chris Whillock has been investigating.  If you have an interest drop a line to Chris at Woodcarver's Warehouse, ya just might get your wish.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Glasgow, Scotland - An amazing city

Back from a trip to Glasgow, Scotland...truly a wonderful city whose people are just as amazing.  While my time to explore was limited (there on business) I did manage a visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  The museum is a complete mix of categories as it ranges from sculpture and paintings to wildlife and even pipe organs.
  The picture at left was just an amazing display of facial expression masks in an interesting me this was well thought out and was a joy to see.
  The museum also dabbles in the city's history and of curiosity was that this city is in love with cowboys and also a love for line dancing.  This connection seems to have originated with a visit from Buffalo Bill's Wild West show over a 100 years ago.  Some artifacts from the visit reside in the museum.  I did not visit the "Grand Ole Opry" shown on the map my concierge provided but suspect the location keeps the love affair alive.
  The highlight of the visit to the museum was to see Rembrandts "Man with arms" and the mystery of whom the painting was representing or modeled after.  Rembrandt was one amazing artist,  I sat in front of this painting for almost 30 minutes just to marvel at the depth of the painting.  Seeing the painting in person you get to see how dark the colors are, yet it is amazing that he can create so many tonal levels that provide it's depth. 
  Also within the museum are numerous sculptures by Auguste Rodin (of "The Thinker" fame).  Truly marvelous. 
  All-in-all a good choice for what time I had available and besides if you are tired you can just take a break and listen to a pipe organ concert. 
  Entrance to this museum is free and they have collection boxes for those who wish to donate (couldn't resist throwing a few george washingtons amongst the GBP's).  If your in the area, this museum has my endorsement.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's more copper rivets?

  Odd thing I saw the other day...I have been instructing some beginners in the basics of knife carving.  As part of this I brought in my collection to show the variety of manufacturers and shapes and demonstrate the purposes of each.  This was done to allow the student to spend their money wisely when it came to tool purchases. 
  A couple of students arrived without having purchased a knife and others brought murphy knives or knives of a type that would make Caricature carving a bit too difficult.  I have always been a proponent of the mainstays in the field...Ron Wells (now manufactured by Mike Shipley), Helvie,  and Denny.  Of these I recommended the Denny 1 7/8" blade for a high quality all around knife appropriate for basic Caricature carving.  I recommended to a couple of my students to make the purchase through Little Shavers as Rick & Theresa work very well with both beginners and veterans and also because Rick takes the time to ensure the tools he sells are sharp before they are shipped (he also provides a high quality sharpening service).  Well the other night the students show up with their new blades and I was surprised to see that the signature copper rivets were no longer there!!  It would appear that the manufacturer (whom that is at the moment is a question in my mind) has eliminated the signature rivets and I also noted that the handles for some reason feel lighter (that could just be me).  Either way the knives still cut well and are ground as I would like them, I just wished the change had not occured...if it ain't broke don't fix it!!!  (Just my honest opinion).