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

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Carving the Big Dragon Lovespoon 2

Carving lovespoons has its risks. The lovespoon art form has one rule that makes for danger throughout the carving process. The ‘carved from a single piece’ rule means that breakages require re-design or starting over. I have had a fair share ( though it never feels fair ) of these re-starts due to breakages. 

This time while carving the Dragon Lovespoon from a nice, thicker than usual piece of New South Wales Rosewood and having added some chain links to the design because the timber blank was long enough to allow their inclusion. And why waste it?..

You are probably guessing where I am going with this.

The carver’s ‘trick’ of carving chain links adds to the risk when carving a lovespoon because of the necessary presence of short grain at the top and bottom of each link making breakage an ever present danger. For this reason carving chain links needs special care and cannot be rushed. There isn’t that much of a trick to it really, it just means slow, careful working.

I usually carve the ‘risky’ elements first when carving a lovespoon and in this case I did carve the links first. The thickness of the blank facilitated the process and all went well. 

The successfully carved chain links

New South Wales Rosewood is a timber I have become quite familiar with and moving down to hollowing out the bowl the timber carved crisply, even at the very bottom of the bowl’s inside curve, where some tear out often needs to be dealt with by deft slicing cuts slightly across the grain. This particular piece of timber also had an attractive colour variation running through the left hand third of the blank, some subtle yellowish streaks.

Sound Timber to carve inside the bowl
After roughing out quite a bit of the design and establishing some levels with the dragon. Then trying some details on the dragon head l began to reduce the level of material on the left of the blank across to the location of the initials. 

Some detail on the dragon head begun

The chain links carved , the bowl mostly shaped inside and out and some progress on the dragon

Only gradually did I notice a shift in the timber’s composition, increasing in softness across the blank. Only gradually did I feel there might be a problem. As I continued to work finding the softness turn to flakey, crumbling regions right through the whole timber thickness. Only gradually did it become apparent that a re-start would be necessary. There was no sickening crack that spelled disaster this time, just a slow realisation.

The flakey crumbling portion

I know that timber can be effectively stabilised with CA glue impregnating but this would require huge amounts and could affect the finish in an adverse way. So I now have a thinner blank cut on the scroll saw ready for carving. The addition of chain links to the original design has been retained and this time from a piece of American curly cherry which I am fairly certain is sound through out.

Outline of new carving blank cut on scroll saw from American curly cherry