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Island Recluse checking in :)

Tani Guerin

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Hello :blush:


I never really know what to say in introductions as most things that come to mind are pretty superficial. I'm female and European, but maybe just saying what gives me the most pleasure will best describe me.


By choice I don't have most things other people can't seem to do without, but have everything I need to make me happy. A wonderful daughter, much-loved cyberfriends, solitude, the freedom to do exactly as I please, and nature all around me. Took me many years and a lot of mistakes to discover what I needed for contentment, and it wasn't in other people. It was here inside me and waiting to be reunited with the only place I ever connected with. I just needed to come back to my home island and let go of all the things that were hiding that from me :blink:


I'm not an artist but have done art and freehand drawing for most of my life. Give it all away or barter it as soon as it's done as I lose interest once it's finished. Do it for love of the feeling I get while doing it, that's all.


I've wanted to learn how to carve for many years and now I have the time and peace of mind to begin :)


I would like to concentrate on learning to carve Netsuke in wood. But first I have to learn the basics of carving. I'll be teaching myself, so the process will be slow, but I don't mind.


There's no set time limit and I won't be selling anything, so I expect to take many years before I produce anything worth posting here (or giving away), but I know how hard it is I want to do it the old-fashioned hard way i.e. hand tools only.


I'll try to find out as much as I can from books, but will still need to ask a lot of questions.


For now though I'm just saying hello as I'm leaving on Monday to spend a few weeks on a really small island (no cars, no phones, no TV, no PC :)). I go as often as I can off-season as I don't have to see a soul for the whole time, and solitude is something I need so much. Being alone with nature is better than anything else I can think of. And especially the sea. I can't be away from that for long without feeling that I'm drying up inside.


Still, I could go on about nature for far too long so I'll rein myself in and just say that I'm taking a couple of knives, a glove and a strop with me and this will be lesson one. I'm just going to pick up all kinds of green and seasoned wood I find lying around, and also driftwood, and just see how it feels to cut them in different ways with a blade. I'm not going to aim to make anything in particular; just start learning how to make the knives do what I want them to do. I'm thinking that whittling should be the first step, but I may be wrong.


I'll be buying some more tools on my return, but if anyone has any advice about what to do in these very early days while I'm out there surrounded by raw materials I'd be grateful for it and glad to follow it :)






P.S. Bonjour David, Ça va?


I'm almost certainly going for Pfeil tools too :)

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Welcome Tani,


Thank you for the thoughtful introduction. When using your tools on the wood, a couple of really basic things to remember: Always cut away from your flesh; and, consider the grain of the wood and cut with the grain so the blade travels smoothly. If you cut into the grain, the blade will be more likely to catch and splinter the wood. Think of the wood as a bundle of drinking straws... cutting diagonally across or with the grain so that each straw supports the one above, and when cutting against or into the grain the knife catches each straw and resists the knife These concepts are written about elsewhere in the archived posts, along with tool discussions, etc.


Have a wonderfully quiet time away,



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Thanks you so much for the welcome Janel.


Can't wait to get to that other island. Nature never disappoints, just so long as I can be alone with him. (always saw nature as male, and not as a father either - never know why though <g>). That island is so quiet you can hear the trees breathing :)


And thanks for the advice about cutting with the grain. I'm very much a visual thinker and like the straws metaphor :)


I haven't found a commercial source of wood locally yet, but I recently hit on the idea of going to charity shops, jumble sales and the like to pick up old damaged wooden tourist carvings from abroad. It looks as if it will be a rich source of all kinds of exotic woods. I'm very keen on the idea of using found or recycled woods wherever possible.


Even at this early stage I'm learning that carving is like the process of drawing for me. I was never able to just sit and meditate - that drove me crazy :blush: But Federick Franck's idea of 'drawing as meditation' works perfectly to calm my mind, and just feeling how the blades cut into different woods is working in the same way.


Well, it probably will until I'm a lot more skilled and then manage to make a fatally wrong cut - I'm guessing that's not a very calming feeling :blink:


One last question here. Is there any way of identifying the kinds of woods that were used to make tourist carvings like all the African antelopes and elephants etc.? Were just a few species used or did they vary a lot from country to country? They feel like very forgiving woods for a beginner to carve so far, but I am looking for a source of lime too (I think you call it 'basswood' in the US).


Sorry for adding another question in this section. When I return from stepping back in time again I'll start proper threads :)


I've been browsing this site for many days. Such an inspiring place, and very generous of you all to welcome beginners like me to join in and learn as apprentices did in the old days. Sincere thanks.





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Hello Tani,


I lived on an island for 21 years. With thousands of tourists. But I started carving that time.


I had a little "buddha" in wood from a tea shop. A plastic one also can do. One strait carvingnife a file and a piece of bruyere.


So I tried to carve a piece like that , it took three or four weeks.


With bruyere wood you can cut in all directions.


I liked to do a copy , cause I concentrated on cutting and scraping.



I still have this piece.



You will make it your way. Hako

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