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Some Stuff From This Year.

Dustin Clayton

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I hope the picture size is all right, my computer tells me there all well under 50 kb. Here's some descriptions. The 1st 4 pictures are of a piece I just finished this week. It's a pendant carved from a small bit of whale tooth about 44 mm long that I've had for a while, I wanted to do something special with it. All I could see in it was a raven or crow head. I wish these pictures looked as good as it does in my handmad.gif. My photography skills are not at all what I wish they were. At any rate its a pretty special piece to me.


The second piece is a pacific northwest style killer whale medallion carved from a pebble of big sur jade for my friend Kenny Comello who has been kindly trading me these wonderful pebbles he collects in exchange for carvings. As with the last piece (and probably all of these) my picture makes the piece look considerably worse than it does in the hand.


The next piece is a Haida style bear mask pendant carved from boxwood. It is about 57 mm tall. I looked at a lot of Haida bear masks and worked towards a synthesis. I'm pretty satisfied with this piece. Wood is'nt my usual medium of choice (as much as I'd like it to be) and I often have a difficult time with finishing but I think it worked out well on this one.


The fourth piece is two antler feathers carved from a single piece. Antler is a favorite material of mine and I'd like to advance my skills with it . I've carved a couple antler feathers and this was an attempt to carve something a bit more complex.


The fifth piece is a badger mask carved from a nice piece of boxwood. Its still a work in progress and I'm not at all happy with how its going. In fact I'm more than open to any advice on how to proceed with it. Add fur? More depth to the features? Any advice on this (or any of my pieces) is welcome.


The last piece is an owl mask pendant made of silver. The piece is raised from a flat sheet uchi dashi style. My knowledge of this technique is owed to Ford Hallam and his tutorials. I'm pretty pleased with how this one came out.


I think my carving style has improved over the course of this year and I'd like to make an effort to continue to learn and progress both as a craftsperson and in terms of expression. Animal masks and the animistic ideas behind them have really influenced me and thats a direction i'd like to exploit more fully. I'm interested in all thoughts on these pieces. Also I'm interested in seeing what everyone else has been up to. This place goes through some pretty long quiet spells, but I suspect many of us are here lurkingph34r.gif.

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HI Dustin,


Photo talk first. You did a great job with the photo resizing. Also, the photos seem to show that you have the white balance adjusted to the light source, so the colors are realistic. If you would like a hint for making a bit of improvement for the photos, use a plain background. You could spend money on photo backdrop, or simply use a sheet of drawing paper. A plain, untextured white, gray or black might help with the different light or dark materials of the carvings. Experiment with that. Be sure that the camera white balance setting matches the light source, or is on auto.


You might also play with controlling the lighting source location, and with using a white paper or card to bounce back some of that light for fill where it seems to enhance the form or contours. It is best to use only one kind of light source. Adding daylight to any electric light will skew the resulting photos.


A third tip, and kind of a question too. Are you using a camera that can take photos close in? How ever the camera works, you should figure out what the distance is for the focus to allow for a clear image. Each lens/camera has a certain distance where that takes place, depending on the lens(es) and camera structure. If the camera is too close, just to fill the frame with the subject for example and is outside of the clear focus point, the image will likely be fuzzy. Auto focus might choose something in the distance to focus on as well. The plain paper might also help with the auto focus to use the carving as the subject for focusing on. It appears that you are cropping the images to remove the unnecessary background, so finding the focus point at the right distance might make the piece kind of lost in the original picture, but with cropping and changing the pixel dimensions you might end up with better images for posting here. . . . Photographing small pieces is a very big subject to talk/write about, and can be carried on further in a different forum area if anyone wishes to do so.


I am very impressed with the skills you are developing. Each of the materials you have shown is quite different from one to the next, requiring different tools and techniques while carving.. Experience has enabled you to express your ideas with each material very nicely. I have not tried to carve stone, and I imagine that it is quite a lot more challenging than wood, tooth, tusk, antler or bone. I enjoy reading your thoughts towards the future work. I see you setting goals for yourself, which is a very good idea for creating a path for growth with anyone's work.


With the badger, which is the plain head carving I think, consider this question: What qualities of a badger are characteristic of that creature, that signals recognition and differentiates it from other furry creatures? You have the form, and you are asking what else is needed. Good luck to you figuring out what to do next!


Happy New Year, and thank you for posting your work photos!



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Janel: Thank you, particularly for the photography advice. Its something I really need to work on. I really enjoy sharing images of my work via the internet so I should spend some serious time working out the whole photo thing. Part of the problem is that while my camera is capable of taking good macro shots (as is evidenced by about 1 out of every 30 or so pictures I takerolleyes.gif) All my photos are done point and shoot. What I need to come up with is something to hold the camera steady so I can work out the other issues.


I also appreciate your comments on the work. This year I'd like to take my work a bit more seriously and really progress. As far as the badger goes I think your right. At this point he's pretty much just a generic "animal" I'll have to do some thinking and looking to decide how to proceed. I think the striped face is going to be important... In any event its too nice of a piece of wood to just go into the Box of Shameblink.gif.


Bella: thank you for the compliment. Those are probably the ones I'm most happy with as well. As far as the himotoshi style hole. That's one of the things I'm working on, incorporating what I learn about netsuke etc into jewelry making, which is what I'm most comfortable with.

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I enjoyed all the pieces from the most complex to the simplest. Even the badger is nice, generic is to harsh, it looks more simplistic like a totem carving such as the early fertility symbols. Of course your intent is what really defines the success. Look forward to seeing more of your work.



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