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Here's My Woodcarving!

by Bob Edwards
Gainesville, GA

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

I've been taking classes at Highland Woodworking since the 80's. My first experiment in wood carving was at Highland Woodworking almost 5 years ago now and it lit a fire that burns still today. I still have the practice piece I did that day and it's awful. But I got better. The path from that first course was pretty limited because hardly anyone was giving in-class lessons on relief carving.

Then I discovered Mary May's website toward of my first year and what a blessing she has been over the years. She gave the basic lessons in how to carve with and against the grain, basic tools, how to sharpen them and how to transfer patterns. I watched in amazement as she carved and the wood just laid down before her and did anything she wanted. I went on to take two more courses from her and once mastered, the door to the many different types of carving was opened. I especially liked the lessons on high relief carving and this eventually led me to the mirror frame I am working on now. Smaller carvings were done in the first years until I was comfortable with the techniques and the tools and then my imagination ran a little wild. I soon learned I could carve almost anything I could find a pattern for, then started adding to the patterns and modifying them with things from previous patterns. It's easy to get carried away with this until my wife steps in with her voice of reason. Different techniques were tried and smaller tools were necessary for some carvings.

My advice for intermediates like myself is to keep at it and push for more challenging projects, try other methods and techniques, different tools and let go of those creative juices. Remember, "If you only do what you can, you will always be what you are."

My goal is to make and sell small custom furniture with hand carved doors and panels that will be one of a kind and affordable on my website and at festivals and fairs.

Below is the right side of a fruit and vegetable themed mirror. The mirror will be a 4x3 bevel making the frame 62 inches high and the width of the frame is 5-1/4 inches. The wood is bass wood and when I started, I had low relief in mind but that soon changed. The first fruit carved was an apple and I had never rounded anything like this before so I didn't realize how deep I had to go to make it round. Well, then the next thing was a peach, then an orange and before I knew it, deep relief it was. I was sure glad I was using a 2-1/2 inch piece of lumber. This deep carving allowed for piercing some things like grape vines, tree branches and even wrapping a vine over itself. Really thick wood, I discovered, allowed for more round, more realistic looking objects like apples, oranges and grapes. Piercing the underside of grape vines and leaves created good shadows and the perception of depth. Then I discovered, quite by accident after messing up the carving of an apple, that I had room to carve out the mistake and redo it on a lower level in the wood, which gave the carving even more depth perception. I am finishing up the left side and the right side was done last year so hopefully it will be done soon. The staining and finish falls to my wife, the true oil and canvas artist in the family, and inspiration for everything.

You can email Bob at Bob@Artfulwoodworks.com . You can visit Bob's website at http://artfulwoodworks.com/index.html .

Would you like to see your carvings in this column? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your favorite woodcarving projects along with captions and a brief history of your woodcarving. (Email photos at 800x600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store gift card if we show your carving work in a future issue!

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