Friday, March 27, 2015

What a little color will do...

Best of Imtermediate Tom Wolfe Category by J. Butlin (2015)
For a little over a year now I have been coaching a couple of carvers and helping them through the steps necessary to advance their caricature carving skills.  One of whom is my friend Jim.  Jim has been carving for several years now and has taken quite a few carving classes with a variety of instructors.  These classes were on a range of topics and not limited to carving caricatures.  That actually has served Jim well when it came to finishing one of his latest pieces for the Charlotte show.  In the case of the dog in question I had provided guidance on a couple of recipes I learned, one in a standard style and one developed by Mitch Cartledge.  With the recipe and a little encouragement Jim was able to create an award winning piece (he won a Tom Wolfe carving) that has a tremendous finish.  Not surprising in this is that Jim has in the past carved and painted duck decoys and that skill served him well when it came to having the patience to apply the finish in the correct fashion. 
These days more often than not you will here carvers state that they either hate painting or do not want to paint at all.  That being the case I believe us experienced carvers need to start providing better guidance and instruction. 
For most carvers learning the art and attending classes the painting instruction most often does not involve the student selecting and preparing their paint.  This has lead to far too many carvings being covered with excessive amounts of paint with no wood grain being shown.  You might ask why having the wood grain showing is important...well it simply is to show that it is a woodcarving and not a piece of resin

A long standing finishing recipe for caricature carving is:
  1. Ensure carving is free of dust and grime and all cuts are clean cuts with a sharp tool - no shredded wheat(this will help ensure uniform absorbing of the paint colors)
  2. Wet carving-some folks will scrub with Simple Green (this step is optional however carving must be completely painted while carving is still wet)
  3. Paint complete carving with thinned acrylics (depending on the color being used paints are thinned at different rates with reds being the most thinned and white being the least)
  4. Antique the carving (tinted boiled linseed oil...per one gallon of oil add a one inch strip of Burnt Umber oil paint)
  5. Sealant - matte finish (Deft spray lacquer is tried and true but can be hard to locate)
  6. Wax - Feed-N-Wax provides the right amount of sheen
  • When applying the finish ensure you use and care for some quality brushes (round brushes are recommended)
  • For a palette I would use a Paper Palette (thanks M. Stetson) found at art and hobby stores (comes in a pad like drawing paper)
  • A helpful tool to have is a hair dryer, this can expedite the drying of the paint.
  • A test block....always have a carved scrap nearby to test your color for transparency before applying on the carving (remember tint is hard to remove but can be added gradually)
  • Have your "magic eraser" (Tom Wolfe speak for knife) on hand to eliminate bleed over should it occur.
  • Practice...Practice..Practice...AND...thin that thinner...NO REAL THIN!!!
  • Relax and enjoy your hobby (very important)

Ok so I made it sound simple...yes, but with practice and the right color selections you will advance your skills producing a nicely finished product.

My congratulations go out to my friend Jim Butlin, outstanding job my friend!!

Well, I got Jim to paint...what's your excuse??? C'mon spring might show up soon and then you will be having to mow the lawn again...carve while you still have the time!

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