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John S

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About John S

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  • Location
    St Helens, Oregon
  • Interests
    Rockhounding, fossil collecting, carving
  1. John S

    Rocks in My Head

    Debbie, the Wandell pantograph uses either a trim router or a dremel tool as its "engine." Thus, there is enough torque to carve swiftly if proper cutting depth is maintained. This may require multiple passes to complete the process, which is the proper way to use a router. I have not attempted to use my Foredom flex shaft with the pantograph but see no reason why it wouldn't work with the proper setup. A "standard" pantograph allows one to trace along the x and y axes of the original image or object. The Wandell pantograph is hinged at the arm base thereby allowing the device to "rise and fall" naturally with the contours of the object, thus taking into consideration the third or "theta" axis. This should permit carving in relief, as well as in the round. I have yet to try working in three dimensions with it but will eventually try to do so. The Wandell pantograph is set up to reproduce images at either 1/2 or 1/3 actual size. Thus, if you want a 5" final product you need a 10" image to work from - otherwise the final will be 2 1/2. " I addressed this by adding an " image screen" by placing a piece of plexiglass over the pattern and running the stylus over that surface. The result is a smoother, almost effortless trace of the pattern. I can better explain this with a few photos which I will provide if helpful. So far I have cut an ammonite image as well as that of a monarch butterfly. I hope to inlay the orange and white patterns of the butterfly wings into a black wing, and I hope to create the body of the insect with my fly tying equipment. It may take a while to acquire the thin, colored veneer that is needed for this project. My wife and I are in the high risk category and currently "sheltering in place" so I have an abundance of time to play with. Mathias also offers plans for a 1:1 pantarouter which I may add to my equipment later. Stay healthy, and stay in touch! John
  2. John S

    Rocks in My Head

    Debbie, let me begin by apologizing to you and others for the lengthy absence from the site. Life has gotten in the way and now the entire planet is living in fear of CO-VID 19. Since my initial posts I have been somewhat scattered in my carving efforts. In particular I found myself building Mathias Wandell's pantograph router. This device allows me to rout the spiral as it naturally presents itself in ammonites. So far I have defined the basic shape of the ammonite in wood and need to test it out on obsidian. I have also worked on a seated, howling wolf, using a Stiller pattern at 5 1/2" and a basswood blank. I am carving this as a gift and I am taking pains to be as realistic as possible. My reasoning here is to refresh my skills and knowledge thru practice, and to work with a couple of new carving burrs to get accustomed to them. BTW thanks for the advice regarding the inverted cone bur and the scribe! I will apply both to my efforts. From this point forward I hope to rely upon the same notification process that you use on this site. Hopefully a "fresh start" to posting will stimulate more involvement and activity here!
  3. John S

    Rocks in My Head

    Debbie, thanks for your thoughtful post. I appreciated your helpful comments - especially regarding the bort, which I know little about. I will certainly add this to my workshop. I can relate to your comments on soapstone. I always use a respirator and face protection when I carve. I have a downdraft table with dual fans and filters behind it. I have enclosed the table (actually an old desk which I modified) with a plexiglass shroud on four sides. I run not one but two air filtration units in my garage/shop, and of course the old reliable shop vac for general dust management. I only use power tools for the initial roughing out of the stock material - and still the dust is overwhelming. My conclusion relative to the dust supports your own experience! However, since soapstone is so soft it allows me to prototype designs and work on aspects of technique. Since obsidian and other harder material is readily available in Oregon I am striving to learn how to work with this material. I am practicing with basswood and soapstone to develop a small (2" dia. ) ammonite replica and need to cut a few slabs of obsidian for my project. Cutting the basic round shape from the slab is relatively straightforward, but carving the spiraling curves of the ammonite itself is presently challenging. I need to determine how much to "oversize" my spirals in order to shape them properly. I am trying to approximate a Fibonocci sequence in defining their progression. Another thing I am trying to determine is the selection of a good reference point for my carving. For example, in carving waterfowl from wood blanks one learns quickly to use the bird's bill as a reference point for scale. I think on an ammonite one can either start at "the beginning" - which is the small circular part at the very center of the shell - or at the very end or "occupied" part of the shell. In either case the spirals work to the opposite end in a formal sequence of curves. Thus far working from the center out seems to make the most sense and it "feels" right to me. Finally, your remarks on marking up the raw stone are much appreciated as well. I use a traditional pencil for center lines and a sharpie to define basic cut lines. Have you tried using a special colored pen - silver, bright yellow etc. - on darker stone? I do tend to get lost in the weeds when in comes to accuracy - part of me wants to be as realistic as possible, while part of me likes working with representation and abstraction. Experimenting in expendable materials will hopefully help me to find my comfort zone in this regard, while fooling around with the rock itself will help me to learn more about the material and ways to work with it. I appreciate your comments and hope you will not feel shy about offering more! Regards, John
  4. By way of introduction I am an experienced (based on longevity and persistence, not talent) wood carver who is extremely interested in stone carving with power and hand tools. I am particularly interested in working with obsidian and agates, but aside from general "How To" books I've not found a good source of reference material for working with these types of stone. (I really don't need any more material that covers basic safety and shop protocol.) I've worked with moderate success with soapstone and pipestone, and feel ready to work with the harder materials. i am using a RAM microtool, a Foredom rotary tool, and of course a Dremel 4000. I also have a good selection of rifflers, files, and sanding tools. My chief problem is finding other carvers with more experience and similar interests, so I am excited about finding this forum. For my first project I am attempting to carve a small (2 inch diameter) ammonite. I am "prototyping" in wood to get a sense of the design and proportion issues, but the differences in carving wood and stone are somewhat daunting. I tend to be drawn toward realism as opposed to abstraction in my carving. I also suspect that my diamond burr selection is too "low end" and therefore need ultimately to upgrade to better burrs. I hope to reach a point where displaying my efforts is more than an embarassment. I look forward to contributing as well as learning from the many skilled artisans who frequent the site.
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