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Steve T

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About Steve T

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  • Birthday 07/19/1962

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    Leander, Texas
  • Interests
    I do lots of different things, I'm in the IT business and have been in front of a screen for 31 years. To stop going completely mad I make things, including painting, bone carving, photography and woodwork. Bone carving is a bit of a passion though and now that life has settled down in the US it's come back to the fore as my eventual retirement plan.

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  1. So I've been carving again, and this is my newest. I have a new favorite tool, On my last dentist visit I asked if I could have some of the old dental bits. The Dentist was only too please to empty out her drawer and I now have a stack of varied bits. So I purchased the Fordem H8.D handset with a collet that works for the dental bits. It's amazing the fine edges you can get with the dental bits. Anyway this carving is one of my signature Maori/Celtic mashups. Completed in Bovine bone and about 50mm (2") long. I'm working on a cord for it now but it will be 4 strand hand plaited 4ply waxed linen thread. Ive ben having a nice run and sold 3 carvings in the last week.
  2. Just an FYI ... the dremel 99** series of cutters are a menace. They cut bone amazingly well but due to their cutter design in a spiral they have a nasty tendency when used in a confined space in your carving (like a piecing area) to grab hold of the bone and drill into it so fast it explodes the carving, the worst is the wedge shaped 9910 ... I recently decided to try these cutters and destroyed 2 carvings, I'll use them for roughing out on external surfaces but swapping back to the 117 cutter and similar 'straight blade cutters' on any internal points where there is any risk at all of touching 2 opposite surfaces at once. Also on the 'burning' issue, I've been carving bone at the top speed of both my Dremel and Foredom and never had an issue unless the cutter is getting blunt. Most bone seems to resist burning much more than wood does, it smells a bit nasty sometimes but you have to be very rough with a blunt cutter to get it to discolour at all. I tend to use the heavier cutters at a highish speed during roughing out work as they don't skip as much and get a smoother cut, I slow down for the fine detail and finishing work (that's machine finishing, I add final detail and all the clean work with hand made gravers cut from 1/8 and 1/16 drill bit shafts set in wooden handles.
  3. It's been a while but I've been busy trying to get a farm into shape! .. now working on some new designs and come up with this and really liking the flow. Based on traditional Maori motifs of Koru and Hei Matau with added textured relief to funk it up a bit. This is the first time I've tried this texturing and it's looking kind of ok, but not sure if it's random enough, anyone tried this and knows a method that works ? This is made of recently acquired bovine bone, only a few weeks old and the prep seems to have worked well, also discovered that some of the cattle here in Texas must be enormous as a couple of the femurs I obtained are bigger by far than anything I saw back in New Zealand. Interested in critiques of course - edited as I realised the photo I attached was far too big .. oops
  4. Thanks Billy .. The Giraffe I have seems to be pretty good, obviously no need to treat it extensively here and it's really nice and not brittle at all, it actually feels kind of soft, hard to describe really. I like camel the best as well, for the detail and polish it will hold it can't be beaten ... I've been trying to work out the 'recipes' for getting the nice tan colours into the bone .. any tips are welcome ... I've also got a stack of Paua shells I brought from NZ when I emigrated and I'm starting to play with inlay into the bone and it's looking pretty good.
  5. I've got 3 different types of bone on hand, beef, camel and giraffe and also some new hand made carving tools so I've been trialing different styles and methods to get sharpness and detail into my carvings. As usual I don't stick to any one area of design so it's a little random .. but this is what I've been doing over the past 2 months As an aside I've decided that I like the colour of the Giraffe best, it's white towards the surface but become a deep honey colour and quite translucent with an obvious grain, it's also quite soft in a weird way, easy to carve but you can't get very fine detail, But with it's size, the bone starts at 38 inches long and is up to 1.5cm thick, so perfect for large work. Camel on the other hand is incredibly dense, pure white and polishes to a super gloss finish, it's stunning for detail works, the only down side with it being so polished is you see every tool mark, and the leg bones are very narrow (max 35mm) so it's best for smaller intricate work. Beef comes somewhere in the middle. Comments, questions and advice welcome
  6. Thanks I have that book and yes, it is where I get some of my ideas on cords for carvings. I like his idea that the transition from carving to cord is a major part of the work and it does take time to work out the best transition. I have a couple of ideas for this one and will hopefully get it sorted out in the next few days.
  7. OK so it's been a busy long weekend. After finishing the butterfly last week I decided to go back to something a little simpler, and actually come up with a design I like a lot, I've never made a carving before that felt like something I'd wear, until now. It still needs a cord and I'm working out a binding for it now that works. With a relatively traditional Whale tail background and a tribal/celtic knot designed to lay over top. It's a style that I've done before with some success and I think it works. Not sure if I'm totally ready to stop on the finishing as there are still a few rough flaws that I can see but maybe I'm being picky. This is the first carving I've done in camel bone, I got this from my ethical supplier and really liking how it polishes up as it holds a really fine finish. Again it's about 75mm (3in) long which seems to be the default for my designs for some reason, wondering if it's determined by the width I can get out of the bone and the proportions feel right. Comments welcome.
  8. This took a while, maybe 3 weeks on and off (guessing at 12 hours) working rough cut with a new handtool I got gifted (Foredom) and finishing with my new hand made micro scrapers. This is Giraffe bone and I'm thinking the relatively course grain lends itself better to less detailed work. But it's come up ok. The work is 75mm (3in) high and has a brooch pin mount on the back. I've moved to Austin Texas and it looks like we might finally have found some good local craft markets to sell some work, so hoping that comes through over the next month or 2. This was really more of a practice work to see how much detail I could get into the bone and the limit for me and my hand made tools appears to be the nouveau vines in the middle. But interested to hear what people think of the design as it's straight out of my head. While moving I found my carving book (I haven't seen it in around 7 or 8 years (about 3 house moves and 1 country ago) so glad to see it back. It's inspired me to go back and do some more Maori based works with the celtic overlay, it's a little bit of what I am being a 5thflower generation Kiwi from the Waikato
  9. Well I've just finished a commission work for a friend who wanted something for her son on his Graduation next month, They are big into martial arts and dragons but also like the symbols from the Maori styles so blended a relatively traditional Hei Matau (fishhook) shape and overlayed with a dragon. It's giraffe bone and I love the transition of the colours as you get deeper into the bone from white at the surface to a honey amber in the middle. It still needs the cord put on and it'll be a 4 thread hemp plait. Still getting the hang of the hand tools but certainly liking the sharper lines and angles I can get.
  10. Thanks Christophe, the praise is really appreciated. I'm enjoying working on these and to know that others like them is good to know. As you can see by my reply above I've taken the advice and started working on the hand tools and I think the difference is really worth it.
  11. Well Janel I took your advice and have spent a little time (relative to a lifetime ) and made myself some micro scrapers. I decided to try some cheap cobalt steel 1/8 drill bits and carved a couple of different shapes up using silicon carbide heads on the dremel. So far they appear to be working well and I'll start refining the shapes a little based on what I'm finding while using them. I went back to the original carving I did and basically worked on reshaping all those intersections to be sharper. It's not perfect and I can see a few places where I should probably go back and do a little more but I think the difference is pretty cool. The flow of the lines is much more obvious and the shapes are so much cleaner. Also being able to scrape/polish down in the tiny holes means the finishing is more even and since I haven't had to resort to sandpaper there are no flat spots. I'd really like to know if compared to how it was, if you and others see an obvious difference ?
  12. Janel, The giraffe bone has a carvable thickness in the centre of the flat areas up to 12 or 13 mm (compared to bovine at about 5 or 6mm) and as it's roughly triangular there are corner areas where the bone is up to 2cm thick. Around the joint end of the bone there appear to be some very solid areas more than 2 cm thick, and I'm hoping to get some netsuke type carvings out of them. Best of all the bone has a large flat side that is going to allow for carvings up to 6cm across the flat. It's also almost a meter long so no real restriction on how long the works are. I'm hoping once I get a bit more experience with it that I might do some decorative panels and frame them up.
  13. Thanks Janel, No worries about the novelette so much useful information it's worth the read. I realised I have a couple of old HSS 1/8th drill bits lying around that I can probably re-purpose into tools based on some of these ideas. I have some of the silicon carbide dremel bits and wondering if I could use those to shape the tips, I'm guessing with the very small face being ground that the small diameter of the grinding surface wouldn't be too much of an issue. I also have some hardwood (Australian Jarrah) that I can shape handles out of. It may take a little longer to show my next piece as I'm going to have to indulge in some tool making first, and some practice on using them. I do have the Stephen Myhre book around somewhere amongst the, as yet, unpacked boxes of books I brought from New Zealand when I emigrated. I must spend some time to hunt it down and re-read as it must be at least 6 or 7 years since I saw it. Bovine bone is the material I have the most experience with carving and I love how it is capable of holding detail and feels nice to carve as it has no real appreciable grain. My only issue with it is the limited flat areas available for larger carvings, which is why I tracked down the Giraffe bone that I'm working with at the moment. It's understandably a lot larger and also much thicker giving more opportunity for depth in carvings. It also has an amazing colour and grain but still capable of fine detail, it's also softer feeling than the bovine and almost feels pliant, but still very strong and capable of polishing to a glossy finish. Your use of the angle cut block to carve on top of is good and I may see what old wood I have lying around to use, I have a bag ( about 5" long and 2" thick) I made out of an old leather handbag, rough leather side out, that I have packed relatively tightly with rice that I work on top of. I find it allows the work to settle in a little and also doesn't mark the surface while I'm working on the back. I'm now thinking about your angled block with a leather pad on the top, attached, with the rice under it, might make a really nice work surface. As my eyes are getting a bit older I work under a ring lit magnifier, so lifting and tilting the surface might take some of the stress out of my neck from looking down all the time. Thanks so much for your time and experience, it's much appreciated. I'll spend some time looking through all the resources you've listed above and maybe the next work will show some changes Steve
  14. We have 3 pines hanging over our back fence that I would gladly send the cones from .. and the loads of pine needles but alas they are the wrong breed of pine, I suspect possibly radiata/Monterey or something similar with short cones ... I'm in Riverside county and haven't seen the types of pines you're looking for so probably more a northern California breed.
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