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How did you get into carving? An interesting story?


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Hi everybody.


Just for something different. Before I started carving, I still had great interest in New Zealand history. As a keen artist, I used to replicate paintings by Charles F. Goldie using pointalistic techniques with a fine rotring pen. Pretty much an illustration made of dots.


These pictures used to take me months. And when each one was complete, I used to give them away to people who had looked after me or my family in some way.


I loved the feeling I got from giving these pictures away, but because they took so long, the feeling was few and far between.


That's when I started thinking what I could do that didn't take so long, yet still had a distinctly NZ feel to it. I was living in Australia at the time and was keen to express my heritage.


And that's how I got into carving. And what a life-changing pastime it has turned out to be.


I've attached my last illustration. I hope it's not my last, but the spare time is getting scarcer.


How did you get into carving?


Haere rā, Billy


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Hello fellow carvers, my name is Steve and I have a carving addiction. I can't help look at an animal and wonder what its bone would be like to carve. I want to learn, and try everything, so that I might create something worthwhile.


Ever since carving totem sticks with my Dad around the camp fire I have dabbled with carving. Progressing with a pocket knife, and a little practice at times, to be a competent whittler. I was only just recently introduced to bone carving while spending the last year traveling New Zealand. My wife is on exchange for teacher's college at Canterbury University in Christchurch and I came along for the adventure. As a mid-year intake we had over two months during summer to travel the islands. We bought a van and traveled to the North Island where a long-time friend from Canada (Graham) was working as a raft guide on the Mohaka River. Graham introduced me to another raft guide nick named Bones, a thin elderly Maori, who lived on the edge of the resort, in a small hut he made himself. Bones is the kind of guy who makes me look forward to getting older. He showed me his carvings, but being of modest means I couldn't offer a fair price (eventually we made a mutually beneficial trade). He was eager to share his tools and knowledge in order to allow me to make my own piece. He also gave me a piece of Pounamu I am very excited to carve, understanding the importance of such a gift. Bones shared all sorts of stories of Maori lore from the Hawkes Bay region as well as his own experiences with NZ's gang scene. Having spent several years in the regular force infantry I have a profound respect for the Maori warrior spirit, while having traveled the world has revealed their craftsmanship equal to all those great cultures of antiquity. Marylin, another elderly Maori also encouraged my interest in her culture by sharing her stories, and taking me to significant historical sites like Te Kooti's lookout, Tataraakina and the local Marae, as well as lending me books on Maori culture and art. I spent time on a sheep station with the Tahoe family, a rodeo family, who's lineage follows a Maori warrior responsible for a mass grave of British soldiers between Napier and Taupo. I have attempted to absorb as much as I can before returning to Canada, but know that I will continue carving for the rest of my life and find it fitting that such a culture would have inspired me to this pursuit.


This is my very first bone carving, I made it with the hope one day I may catch something other than my shirt with it.


This is a couple of pieces Bones made for a wedding.


sunrise over Te Waka in the Mohaka valley.

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Great stories guys. Those carving are real nice Steve. I can't wait to get over to NZ to have some experiences like that. Hopefully next year I'll get over there. Are you still over there or back in Canada?


My start is a bit more modest than yours Steve. I always wanted to make my own fishhook after buying one back in Ireland. My beautiful wife got me one made from Barracuda gill bone for my birthday last year, it was made in hawaii. Now living in Cali I find that I have a lot of spare time to practice my carving. I cant wait to have a nice bench and workspace but all I am using right now is a fold up chair on my balcony. I have a dremel, some small files, a coping saw, a carving knife and some sandpaper. It does the job nicely. I got some camel leg bone on ebay about 3 months ago and that is what I started with. My uncle in law gave me a bucket full of lovely wood from his custom furniture workshop, including Koa, wenge, rosewood and lots more!! I'm waiting for a better workspace to use these though.

Its great to talk to other people with the same interests and learn from guys like yourselves.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got into carving after a chance meeting with Tom Wolfe in Gatlinburg, Tenn. He was in a little shop and was carving hound dogs. He gave me much encouragement about trying to carve and I did two carvings as soon as I got home.

But I had no tools and used a pocket knife to carve with. It was very difficult and I did no more for about two years. Then I was in our local librbary looking for a book on woodworking and I came across a book on carving.

In the first chapter it advised to buy a good carving knife. I went to a tool store that sold carving supplies too and bought one. It made so much difference that I'm still carving 20 years later.


I come here for information and inspiration. Some of the work I've seen here is awesome. Just to name a few are the works of Janel, Cornel, and the most recent is the work of Natasha. If you haven't seen her carving of "The flower" you must see it.


I hope no one is offended if I didn't mention you. There are so many talented carvers here it would take a week to name them all. And I have CRS diease. I can't remember sh...stuff.

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I'm one of the "naturals". My grandfather, who lived a tram journey away, had a shed with a workbench and some basic tools, the sort you get in a home handyman's kit. Importantly, it contained a few chisels and a vice, and he was good at sharpening, which is something not many home handymen are good at, and even taught me how to do that.

On the other hand in my parents' bookshelves there were a lot of albums on art in general, with some carving styles represented.

The natural result was that at the tender age of about 11 or so I attempted to copy something or other, with rather unsettling results. Fortunately rather than disheartening me, it gave me that feeling of " why can't I do that, if those guys could?" So I've been learning ever since, and still stand in awe in front of some incredible work from the past. (and present, for that matter) I have to say that I've learnt some tricks, though. But one thing I'm sure of is that there is plenty to keep me going on learning till my last day.

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