Jump to content

A Small Koi


kwinn

Recommended Posts

I've been working on this for a few months as time permitted, and I am now getting near the finish line. Freda (fkvesic) inspired me to post some pictures of this work-in-progress. It has taken quite a bit of work to get to this point (I think I worked on the scales alone for a month!)

 

post-41-1235195037.jpg

post-41-1235195045.jpg

 

The wood is Mountain Mahogany heartwood that I collected a few years ago in the mountains above Salt Lake City. This wood is hard yet easy to carve, relatively forgiving as to grain direction (but not as forgiving as Boxwood), and has a nice color and grain pattern.

 

I am now working to make eyes from Amber. I'll follow up with more pictures when that is complete.

 

LOOKING FOR SUGGESTIONS:

Even though this wood is already a nice brown color, I would like to apply a coloring agent to enhance the contrasts. However, I'm still puzzling over what kind of coloring agent to use. I could use the old trick that caricature carvers use and apply a wash of dark brown paint over the entire surface and rub it off the high areas, but that seems a little out of place here. What would people here suggest?

 

 

Kelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kelly,

 

It is good to see what you have been carving. The scales have taken great patience to accomplish. When the eyes go in, the whole appearance will change, it might come a little bit alive!

 

Do you have extra mountain mahogany? I suggest that you put some time into making a test piece that has some pattern or texture, and finished surfaces to it. It is good to practice different treatments on a separate piece of the same wood. Would a thin wash of sumi be too harsh a contrast? A diluted wash perhaps, but first test on the sample wood to see if the grain responds unfavorably. Testing different colorants and finishes will show you how the MM will respond to each treatment. One test would be to see if wetting with water or watery ink would affect the wood. I have not done much with MM, so I cannot predict what will happen. Testing is a very good idea. Maybe since the wood is dark, a combination of white and dark might refer to the colors of koi. Overall painting seems to heavy handed for this piece, just a hint of coloration so that the fine wood shows through.

 

Have some fun!

 

Janel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kelly,

 

This might initially seem a bit of an extreme suggestion, but I think a deep red stain would work very well. Stained it all over then remove most of it leaving the colour only in the recesses.. say at the bottom of each scale and at the base of the fins.. that way you'll get a nice contrast between the deeper red and the reddishness of the mahogany. A small tests as Janel suggests would tell you if you like the effect.

 

One note of caution however.. MM readily accepts dye and as you don't want it to penetrate to deeply only a very short immersion in the dye would be needed.

 

Good job so far... looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

 

Regards

Clive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions. Here are the final pictures.

 

post-41-1235809753.jpg

post-41-1235809681.jpg

 

The eyes are made from Baltic Amber backed by acrylic paint. This was my first attempt at making Amber eyes. To make them, I prepared a rod of Amber with a flattened and smoothed end, onto which I painted a gold ring. When that was dry I painted the entire end of the rod black. The rod was then glued into a prepared socket with cyanoacrylate (super) glue and shaped and polished. There is a little bit of clouding in the black area and I'm not sure of the cause (perhaps the acrylic is not adhering well to the Amber?). Next time I may try something else like Sumi ink for the dark spot.

 

I find that Amber is very easy to work with both hand and power tools. It is brittle, but I only had a few small unintended flakes pop off while working it. I shaped the eyes with a diamond burr and hand-files. I sanded to 1500-grit wet/dry sandpaper, then polished with brown buffing compound on a buffing wheel mounted in my Foredom.

 

For the finish, I coated the entire carving with Watco Danish Oil (eyes included, after testing to make sure my finishing agent wouldn't dissolve the Amber). This wood is surprisingly dense though, as it didn't soak up much of the oil even after sitting for 30 minutes. I think I wiped most of the oil off again, and let it dry for 24 hours. Finally, I took Janel's suggestion and applied a wash of thinned Sumi ink on everything except the head.

 

 

Kelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kelly,

 

You have had a very pleasant outcome for your first challenges with these materials. The subtle wash is just enough to cause a separation of areas with gentle shading, and doing so without causing a huge difference between one part and another.

 

I have always feared gluing an eye in before knowing what the backing treatment looks like. Once confident of the approach you have taken, having proved to myself that all will be just right, I may just do it that way, before shaping and polishing... but once glued, there is no fixing it unless the whole thing is ground out and redone. That is my cautious self, and how I end up making my eyes always takes longer than I care for it to. Knowing that the eye is going to be what in the end will add that spark of life to a carving, I care to take that time.

 

About the water based acrylic paint, perhaps it won't bind perfectly with the resin/amber. I have experienced sumi to also pop off, though others may have success with it. My investigations have had me try black enamel paint that drys shiny, and black nail polish or lacquers. I don't know how either of these materials will endure for the long period, but they do produce good blacks. Also, I have wondered if the area where the black goes needs to be mostly polished with a very slight un-smoothness to it to assist the adherence of the colorants. If too rough perhaps it would go less black? If too shiny, perhaps it would be too reflective, or loose the grip on the paint? So many considerations! I also wonder sometimes about blackening the socket, or darkening the glue... not necessarily things that I have done more than once, just possibilities that would have less control for outcome.

 

When the eye is in the socket, I fear using power tools or large less controlable tools like files when getting in close to the wood. My hesitancy after weeks or months of working on the wood. I use certain scrapers for when getting close in to the finished shape. It takes a while to bring the surface down to where it needs to be, but the very sharp tools remove the material gently and I have time to think about how it is going. There is less polishing to do en the end as well. When polishing, I also do not use power, but wrap the fine sanding papers around a slender bamboo tool or skewer, and aim it at the amber gently, perhaps with a touch of moisture. When at the highest, 2000, or higher with emery cloths to really slick surfaces, I use a bit of polishing liquid for getting the scratches and hazes out of plexiglass, on a swatch of cotton cloth to bring up the brightest shine. Eyes are time consuming, but when done well bring a spark of life that draws the viewer in to it.

 

Thank you for describing in what order you applied the finish and wash of sumi. I actually had not considered when to apply the sumi, and with the dense head I have at times thought the finish would go on last. It is a good lesson to me, and it makes sense, so that the sumi would be easier to wipe from the wood after application, and perhaps be easier to control by keeping it out of every pore of the wood.

 

I very much like what you have done with this piece. Where will you go from here? What might you do differently with a similar subject if you do one of these creatures again?

 

Janel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...