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Hi, I'm Rebecca

Rebecca S

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Hi. My name is Rebecca Schiffman.

I am a jewelry designer and wax carver and am looking to get into a few other modes of carving. I recently relocated from my hometown New York City to live with my boyfriend in Los Angeles and I have a little studio set up in our garage.



Wax carving: I have been carving wax models for my own jewelry designs for a few years and have recently started freelance model making for other jewelry companies. My wax carving "guru" is my former teacher (and current teacher when I visit NYC) Fred de Vos. http://freddevos.com/ I mostly carve wax using dental tools and burs but Fred also taught me to shape hard wax on a mill and lathe to create the starting "blank" on which I am going to carve to have a more precise starting point. I am now saving up to buy a little Sherline mill and lathe for my studio but am pretty intimidated since I used to always have to ask him to help me set it up.

My recent jewelry collections have been based on architectural ornament, I try to recreate designs on older buildings in wax.



I guess if I list what I want to do here, now it's out there and I better get to it so I'm not all just talk! Any encouragement or beginner project ideas would be greatly appreciated.


Stone/bone carving: I've never carved a gemstone, rock, or bone but would like to. I just went to a great exhibition at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana called "Gems of the Medici" that showcased ancient Roman and Italian Renaissance era cameos that was very inspiring.


Hobo Nickels: I'm not sure if anyone on this site is into this but it looks really fun.



Cylinder Seal: http://en.wikipedia....i/Cylinder_seal


Tools: I am very interested in gaining and sharing knowledge about tool use and demistifying tools I am intimidated by.


Looking forward to learning from this community.





P.S. I didn't list wood because I am generally terrified of wood carving tools. Might be from the time in college when I let go of a piece on the table saw before it had passed the blade and it flew back at me and hit me in the chest and knocked the wind out of me!



Attached pic is of a griffin pendant I first carved in wax based on an assyrian-style bas relief in Grand Central Terminal for my Grand Central Terminal Centennial Collection.


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Hi Rebecca,


Welcome! You have a wide range of interests, and a long life of discovery before you as you move forward.


I can encourage you to not be afraid of wood carving, especially in the scale that you are currently working in. You don't need a band saw or table saw, though you might reconsider both of those if you find someone who can introduce you to the power tools from the aspect of safety and usefulness.


Small sculptural wood pieces have been made for thousands of years without power tools. As with any tool for any material, keep them sharpened and cut away from your flesh. How to use them develops with use, experimentation and a vision.


I grew into carving wood from having carved unfired porcelain clay in a damp state. You will move into carving wood or bone naturally after having carved wax with some differences. The tools will file, cut and scrape, not melt the materials. Also, you cannot add material back once removed. That you will adjust to as you work through the carving process. Bone and wood carving tools and techniques are more similar each other than to stone or metal carving. My experience with stone was in my first decade of life, so I will leave that interest to others on the forum.


Regarding tools and how to use them, there is a lot of information here on the forum about tools for wood and bone carving. Use the SEARCH function to get you started with reading, or browse through the years of topic titles. Then just start reading. Also there is other useful information in the section of the forum that is located at the bottom of the list. In there is a short video that I made quite a while ago with tools that I was using at the time. The idea was to plant the seed for how to carve with such tools. The techniques are different than those of larger sculptors who whack away using two hands with a mallet and chisel, since the pieces being worked on are quite small. I have added to my tool array since the video, which I show in posts from the past year, but the techniques for removing wood are somewhat the same. Each tool has its own uses.


Some of us use hand tools for the majority of the time spent carving. Some of us use power tools for the majority, if not all, of the carving. The resulting pieces differ quite a bit from one another between techniques used. We all make choices for how we evolve with our work, and we celebrate the differences.


Please ask questions as you have them. More specific answers can be given to more specific questions.


For now, the biggest first step for you is to make a choice, whether or not wood, bone, stone or metal has the strongest appeal for ideas that are swirling around in your head. I sometimes make a decision by taking a chisel or file and various pieces of material (woods mostly) and cut a bit from an edge and a side, to see and feel how I respond to the wood and how it looks when cut, and whether or not I have a concept in mind for a next piece.


There are a few wax carvers who are members of the forum. There are also a few hobo nickle or coin carvers as well. There are certainly bone and stone carvers here as well. You should be able to find them via the SEARCH function.


Again, welcome to The Carving Path forum. I hope that you will find help and inspiration here as you need it.


Kindest regards,



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Hi Janel,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.


I'm glad to hear small-scale wood carving could let me avoid the scary big tools from college shop class.

I'm excited to comb through the wealth of information on this site and am going to post in the appropriate forum to ask advice for a project I want to start.


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Hi Rebecca,


I look forward to it.


As I write this, my own black is resting on my lap and right forearm, helping me at the computer. I've just returned from the studio and she is getting her lap time in. She is a very sweet kitty.



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Janel, aww, that's sweet.. Mine always hangs out between my computer and me, kind of like a furry wrist rest for typing.


Bonnie, I was actually thinking of my first stone carving project to be a rough cat head shape, eventually I would like to carve medals of all three of my pets (two cats and a pug)... I'm currently working freelance as a model maker for the company Dogeared designing and carving models for their new dog collection (charms shaped like each breed.)


More soon,


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