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Hi From British Columbia, Canada


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This my third try at posting on this forum so let's hope I get it right this time. My name is Ron and I live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I have been checking out all of the wonderful carvings on this site and just had to join. I see that some of you actually appear to earn a living from your artwork. I dream of the day that I could do the same. Currently I work more than full-time, I manage my household, I care for two of my six children, and I try to find time to do art on the side.


I have tried many different mediums but I find that I am drawn to carving more that to painting, printing, drawing or graphic art. I have not had a lot of experience carving, but I have carved wood, pumpkins (OK, don't laugh, they are very intricate and detailed), and clay and bone. I plan on trying to carve stone (I have most of the equipment and some small pieces of marble and obsidian), antlers, and wax. Right now I am carving a cow skull. I find that I really enjoy carving bone and so I plan on carving many more skulls, including the bear, wolf, warthog, lynx, cougar, horse, fox, moose and beaver skulls that I own.


When I decided to try carving stone and bone, I did a lot of reading about safety issues. Apparently carving both stone and bone can be potentially very harmful due to silica and even bacteria in the dust created by carving with a rotary tool (which is what I use). My health is very important to me so I decided to research a number of different respirators. Many would not work for me becuase I have a beard. Many were also eliminated because I heard that a respirator with a built in powered air flow unit is better than ones that are not powered. After much searching, I decided to buy a Triton Respirator.


The Triton Respirator protects not just my lungs but also my full face, including my eyes, ears, and head. My head and eyes are shielded from airborne debris by a lightweight hardened plastic hard-hat fitted with a high-impact hinged visor. I also get hearing protection in the form of built-in earmuffs. I wear earbuds under the earmuffs while carving so that I can listen to music. A filtered stream of air flows from the back of the hard-hat down the inside of the visor, supplying me with clean air. The clean air is provided by a recharable power pack/filter that is carried on a waist belt. I have attached a photo of the unit in case any of you are interested in seeing it. It's funny looking when it is on (kinda Ghost Busters/extraterrestrialish), but when I put the respirator on, it's like being in a cocoon that isolates me from the rest of the world.




As I noted above, I am currently carving a cow skull. I have attached photos for anyone interested in checking it out. I began by drawing and painting the design on the skull, I then carved out all of the parts that I wanted to be recessed. I then carved hundreds of holes in the skull using my rotary tool. Next, I will inlay the shallow stripes I carved out with ebonized oak. After that is done, I will cover the gold painted parts with 24k gold leaf and burnish it to a nice shine. I will then drill shallow holes in all of the silver stipes on the face of the skull and glue painted nail tacks in each hole. I plan to paint the tacks either silver, black, red or gold. Any input on which colour to use would be appreciated.







I have found that I have a passion for carving and I look forward to learning from, and sharing with, all of you. May you all experience peace and joy in your lives, Ron.


"Creativity is . . . seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God." - Michele Shea

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Hi Ron,


Welcome to The Carving Path forum! I am glad that your post finally made it to this page!


What kind of price does the filtration unit have? It is a very good idea to use one of these. I've seen wood turners using those, and sometimes I think that it would be a more comfortable option to wearing a filter over nose and mouth under the face shield. In this hot and humid weather I can feel a bit breathless when using this setup, and resist taking off the fiber filter mask.


You have shown us a very complex carving challenge with the skull carving and decoration. I hope that you will show us more steps as you progress with it. I am curious about how you will make and inlay the ebonized oak strips.



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Hi Janel,


Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm glad my post finally made it as well. I finally figured out that when I clicked on "try our advanced uploader" link, it would take me away from the post page and then when I would click to go back to the post page, everything I typed would be gone.


I purchased my Triton respirator for $100 off of Craig's List. It was new and never used so it was a great deal. New they generally cost about $300 to $350. I really love the fact that I do not have anything covering my mouth that I have to breath through. I have found that I can carve up to 3 hours or more straight without having to recharge the battery. As I recall, I believe the battery should last up to eight hours of use before requiring recharging.


The design on my cow skull is somewhat complex but the carving is actually rather simple. The most tedious part was using the rotary tool to enlarge and reshape each of the holes so they looked natural rather than man made. You can see on the bottom image of the skull where I had not yet worked on the holes. They look like what they are, holes drilled using a drill bit. The holes on the top view show how they look after I have worked on them.


I have just painted a second coat of ebony stain (Minwax Wood Finish - Ebony 2718) on my oak veneer. It may take two to three more coats before it is dark enough. Once it is stained properly, I will begin making the template for cutting it to fit the lines in the skull. I will do that by laying clear packing tape over the section that I want to inlay and copying it in ink on the tape. When I take the tape off, I then lay the sticky side lightly onto the oak veneer and cut the pattern out of the oak with an x-acto knife. I then take the cut piece and glue it into the channel that I have carved in the skull. I expect that this will take hours but I expect the effect to be beautiful.


I will try to remember to take photos as the work progresses. I appreciate the reply. Ron.


"Creativity is . . . seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God." - Michele Shea

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Ronvdm!

I cam across your post as i was looking for articles regarding cow skulls. The one you posted on here looks absolutely gorgeous! I've begun working on a cow skull as well and was wondering how much of the underside did you remove? If at all? Did you remove the thinner bones that hold in the brain? I've managed to remove some of that (so that it doesn't look too creepy) but don't know if i should remove more.

Based on other pictures of carved cow skulls I've seen (like the ones from Indonesia), they seem to have the underside hollowed out quite thoroughly, as the designs go all the way through. Any thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated :)

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