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This blog features the current woodcraft, Art and Graphic work of David Stanley.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dragon Lovespoon

Progress has been slow and intermittent so far, with the 'Dragon Lovespoon', due to my other current work commitments. With the carving of the 'Dragon Lovespoon' the most immediate goal that I'm looking forward to, is that point in the carving when all the critical design decisions have been made and the safe, albeit tedious, 'haven' of finely finishing the carving, is reached. Of course right after the initial thrill of finishing some small section to that point where the natural beauty of the timber starts to show and a certain pleasing crispness begins to appear in the forms and shapes, then a restless desire to be designing something new will set in again.

Bearing this in mind it is as well that love spoons have a back and front, so a little variety can be introduced by proceeding to some of the finishing process, with needle files at least, (abrasives are best left until your edge tools are reserved for the next project) and then getting back to carving those parts that will still need some intuitive design work to complete them. I find that I need this variety in a long project, but more especially when I don't have other different work to attend to at the same time.

Engineering a little variety into the work is probably a good idea as long as the discipline of designing well and finishing well isn't interfered with by indolently, only attending to pleasant tasks. However I do have some other work on hand at present and the carving work is something interesting and pleasant to look forward to at various set times. Having good and interesting work to do, is certainly a blessing and a gift from God to mankind, but all work has its tedious side plus its pain and however well it finishes up, there's always something more and something better to look for and look forward to.

The general thickness of this carving, in many places, will be greatly reduced as material is removed from the back of the spoon. This is a time when thought needs to be given to keeping strategic strength in vulnerable parts of the spoon to weather the relatively rough handling of some of the more strenuous passages of carving.

The 'unders' and 'overs' of the Celtic knot work have been set in on the top of the spoon and the depth has been determined for many of the elements. The full three dimensional form of the dragon is still being determined however as carving begins on the back of the spoon.

As the stem of the spoon is 'buried', more or less, in the depth of the carving and only short lengths are accessible to cutting at any one time, the desirable fair curve for the spoon's neck, is going to be a challenge to carve. A lot of guessing and estimation, plus constant checking, will be necessary to establish the long slow and largely imaginary curve of this neck as it traces its 'apparent' path to the bowl of the spoon.

One side of the large heart at the top of the spoon has been carved awaiting the relief carving of the leaf pattern over the surface. I am still deciding how the back of this heart will be carved, whether it will be the same as the front or carved in a more concave manner. A great deal of 'on the fly' design will be needed when the main forms on the back of the spoon are established.

Some continuation of the plant and floral elements on the back of the carving are also going to temper the general alacrity that can be expended on the removal of the large quantities of material on the back as some of this material will be needed for those parts of the continued floral elements situated at the upper layers of the back of the spoon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carving of the 'Dragon Lovespoon' Commenced

After completion of all the scrollsaw work, from the pattern. I have commenced the actual carving of the design. There is in fact still quite a bit of design work left to be done, because after the initial plan view drawing of the spoon design, and perhaps a few sketched lines on the edge of the timber block, everything else 'inside' the carving, is beyond my visualisation ability and I am forced to proceed intuitively into the rest of the carving work.

When I say 'forced' into an intuitive mode of working, I don't mean to say that this aspect of the work is not an exciting one and also an enjoyable one, as possibilities suggest themselves for inclusion in the design at many points, in a way enhancing to the work. Things that I might never have thought of with pencil and paper alone. Things for which I can take no credit, just recognise and accept what has been provided.

There are perplexing points as well, as sometimes no clear way ahead appears and mishaps and obstacles pop up instead. All this is part of the story that goes into the carving of a lovespoon however, and whether it is to be known or not, it's good to think that this hidden narrative will somehow add to the enjoyment the recipient will acquire through receipt of this kind of gift.

Perhaps they will be moved, by an albeit, hardly articulate sense, of what has gone into the whole carving, designing and making process. Moved to something like gratitude, not so much to the designer/carver as for the carver, to the maker of that carver – and also maker of the material used – and also maker of their very selves. Selves that have been given their own skills, abilities, even perplexities of life, in which they are sustained in their being.

It must have been easier in a less technological age, even more perhaps in a less industrial age when the human hand was more evident in just about every household artefact, to be confronted with the connection of human lives that had participated in the things we use and have. Many zeros and ones, company profits, corporate identities and shareholders stand between us and this connection now.

You don't have to own a hand-crafted object (most artist/craftspersons would like you to consider it), but have a look around at that part of creation that consists of things made lovingly by human hand, learn an art or craft yourself if you feel inclined, but consider the creator behind every creation and its human connection. And consider that, that creator connected with humanity by becoming human. Lived, suffered and died guiltless and rose again in eternal supremacy. And consider at last that connection with him which is by his invitation, a connection, when you receive it, for which you can take no credit but just recognise and accept what has been provided.

In consideration now of this particular carving, for better or worse, I'm finding the relative softness of the timber requires careful cutting with very sharp tools. But still, the fiddly cutting in close quarters, that I'm having to do in some areas, is resulting in whispy residues of that cutting and tiny tear-outs that will all have to be removed with careful fine sanding at a later stage, probably lots of fine sanding and somehow that needs doing without removing the crisp edges that will need to persist to the finish.

Normally I would use the penciled-in profile of the spoon, on the edge of the block, (temporarily re-assembled after scrollsawing the pattern) as a guide to removing a substantial portion of the waste with the bandsaw however in this case because the design is so dense and layered throughout most of its length, it's not possible to do this with much certainty of not removing too much. So I'm relying on the timber's softness to allow a gradual removal of waste 'on the fly' at those times during the carving process when I actually know what I'm doing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dragon Lovespoon

The Outline of the spoon has been cut and the side offcuts kept for the re-assembly of the block prior to cutting the profile. As with my previous spoon, the design, as seen from the top, will lay on many different levels not yet determined, consequently not much can be removed from the profile without diminishing design options.

I have left the inside cuts un-cut as yet and have proceeded to carve out the chain link and swivel, just in case the swivel was not possible to free. I had to use my hand-made bent (heavily bent) chisels, made from piano wire, to get access to the area deep in the cleft of the large heart.

White beech is the softest timber I have carved so far and I'm finding that this softness presents its own problems. To begin with it is much 'easier' to carve, requiring less strength but even greater care is necessary because; cuts can go deeper, a slip can leave a damaging gash, non cutting parts of tools can leave dents, files have to be used carefully and without undue pressure or they will compress and burnish the timber surface rather than cutting and a little more 'on-the-fly' planning has to employed in general as you carve.

I am more used to the quiet violence of imposing form on the valiant resistance of hard timbers than the easy surrender to every errant cut that the softer wood continually threatens. I'm sure this experience will be valuable but I'm also hoping that the entire design will hold up in this timber.

At the bottom of the right hand corner of the design is a knot that I had hoped did not go all the way through or at least became solid toward the centre of the timber block.

Unfortunately it does go all the way in a raggedly open form and so this portion will have to be removed changing the design.The change will only be minimal however, just a small part of the smoke cloud from the dragon's breath.

The next task will be to cut the inside cuts on the scroll saw. Then I can proceed to carve and re-draw, carve and re-draw again and again until each element reaches its level in the multi-layered design.