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Cross Cultural


Steve T

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Well, apart from my initial intro post this is my first show and tell. Hopefully this is acceptable amongst the great carvings I've seen on the group.

 

I'm working on more melding of the traditional Maori and other styles, this isn't so obviously cross cultural as some of the others but I like the way the wire wrap looks with the bone.

 

This is Giraffe bone and the colour is stunning, also polishes to a really high gloss but retains an amazing grain, it's also translucent and looks almost like amber with the light behind it.

 

Comments and critiques welcome, I realise the wire wrap is a bit uneven but I'm sorting out how to get it done and having some issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Since it's in a similar vein of design I've added this in my previous post. Just finished it and it's along this same cross cultural theme.

 

A mix of the traditional Maori with a Rau Kumarai (double twist) which means the joining of two, or many people in eternal friendship and loyalty for life, merged with a Celtic/tribal knot inspired design with it's endless loop reinforcing the symbol of eternity.

 

Carved with a dremel out of Giraffe bone with a hand plaited waxed linen cord. It's about 70mm long and the detail in the Celtic/tribal piercing was as fine a detail as I could get with the smallest dremel bits made.

 

Comments appreciated.

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Hi Steve,

 

I am not educated in the cultural history of the carvings that you are drawing your designs from, but you have a pleasing sense of form and composition, and even with just the power tool, the pieces are expressive. What you have done with the power tool shows good control, and what you have done is more than I dare do with one. You have developed good control with it.

 

Your having mentioned using the smallest bit for the piercings my mind last night jumped ahead to thinking that you were saying that you had gone to the limit with the power tools. Thus I wrote: Do you think that you gone as far as you can go with the rotary tool? Is it time to learn how to take the carving further with some hand tools?

 

I apologize to having assumed that was what you meant. This morning I read it differently. Even so, the use of hand tools is a very appropriate addition to a carver's technical skills.

 

The tools that several of us have posted in this forum could introduce you to the next step of refining the detail of intricate designs. Some areas of refinement that hand tools help with:

 

-Where one part of a form meets another, a transition point, can become more than a rounded gully. For instance. Look at your hand, with your fingers together. Where one finger touches another or your hand placed on something, those are examples where forms meet. At that transition point, the shadows created tell the viewer that the hand is separate from the surface, or that the fingers are separate from one another. It is that shadow that adds vitality to carved elements.

 

-Straight lines where they are supposed to be straight, "straight" curves rather than rounded ones, both are powerful. Indecisive, uneven lines when a circle, spiral, curved or straight element reduces the power of the line that directs the eye around the piece when straight otherwise is intended. This refers to both outlines and where the transition points are between elements of the form.

 

-Creating openings with a decisive form that relates to the elements that have come together to create that negative space is worthy of exploration. The negative spaces are important to consider in any design. Negative spaces can be the holes of pierced work, or with what I am doing now, the spaces between the leaves and other positive elements against the background of the tree's bark. The negative spaces have weight and balance and cause the eye to move just as do the positive elements, we may not realize it though. Hand tools can give the pierced work a bit more form beyond a circle or circular corners

 

Care with detail work done with scrapers and knives can really make an interesting difference. I am happy to see what you are doing. The two pieces above keep my eyes moving around them and I want to hold them to turn them around to see what else is going on on the other side. The tiny piercings in this piece actually work with the soft rounded curves, but with both pieces, where one element meets another, I wish to see less gully and more a transition of two forms meeting with a "straight curve" describing the arc that is formed. If I can be of help if you consider using hand tools, please say so.

 

Kindest regards,

 

Janel

 

PS: I have edited the above, which was written late in the evening, and now by the bright of day some edits have been made.

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Janel .... thank you very much for the words above. I started out about 10 years ago using hand tools, mostly inadequate re-purposing of other tools I had around. Then swapped to the Dremel and I suppose the speed of the work made me a little lazy in getting that sharp detail into the carvings. But as you say those rounded channels detract from the depth and separation of the elements in the work and I had attempted to make them sharper using some of the more pointed dremel tools but was not really satisfied with the results.

 

I would like a bit of a guide to some starter hand tools for getting this detail, I suspect some good quality metal gravers would be the way to go but finding them is proving a bit hard. Considering the detail I want to get these would have to be very fine tools and if you have a source of them I would appreciate it.

 

In one of my other hobby lives (I have a bit of an issue sitting still) I paint and I understand entirely the concept of negative spaces and that is what made me start experimenting more with the pierced work as I feel it adds so much more interest to the work. It also possibly shows in the designs I make as I also know how to lead the eye into a scene and keep it interested.

 

Thanks again,

 

Steve

 

PS ... As a newbie on the site I really should read around some more, I just had a look through the tools section and think I might start out by investing in one of the dockyard micro carving sets. Although some guidance on the size would be appreciated. There is a 1.5mm and 2mm set and wondering whether the 1.5 would stand up to the hardness of bone as I suspect it's harder than wood to carve and I'd hate to buy something that is not going to cut it? (pun in poor taste but intended :) )

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Hi Steve,

 

Yes, I can see that you bring some good experience into these pieces, and thank you for writing about that. I have already written the message below and am now re-reading your statement and want to simplify what I want to say about tools to start out with. I think that the 2and1 style tools that came from Stephen Myhre, one is narrow and longer bladed, the other is wider and more blunt would both serve you well. The more blunt style gets used first in my work for that style tool, then is followed the narrower and sharper one, or for when a cleaner/deeper undercut is desired. There are so may uses for these tools. Just two would open the way for a tool appetite, I believe. Now, on with the rest of it... (and yes, read more from this site! There is a lot to be discovered.)

 

I purchased Dockyard sets at the very beginning of my wood carving years, both the 1.5 and 2.0 mm sets of about six each. Wood, yes, bone maybe - maybe not. The little chisels might hold up for a while and might be a good and easy first step.

 

Did you find this post/topic? It likely does not list all of the conversations about tools, but could be a start in looking through the archives: http://www.thecarvin...dpost__p__25869

 

This is a link to my web site that shows the tools that are constantly on my bench: http://www.janeljaco.../tools2012.html

 

The images make them look big, but I used 1/8 and 3/16 inch O-1 drill rod to make them. They were shaped, hardened and then tempered. You can also see tools that I made from Sears/Craftsman pin punches. Those are a very handy resource for smaller tools without the bother of making handles for them. The largest diameter oval faced tool is from a 1/4 inch tool. Just do not cause them to get hot if using a grinder to shape them.

 

I have sent some prototypes of four or five tool shapes to a tool maker who lives in northern Minnesota (I am in east central MN). He was intent on being able to reproduce the faces and angles of the tools in the third and fourth images down. I have not heard back from him, but the goal is to have him be able to make sets of tools that could be available for purchase. Learning to appreciate good tools can open the door of possibilities to anyone who wants to being making a wide variety of useful tools for themselves.

 

I have grown to appreciate tremendously the 2and1 sided tools after having received a couple of Stephen Myhre* tools. His tools appear in the top two images, the two just left of center with the wrapped handles. Heavily used, they may not now be the same shape as when new. That shape is so versatile, with the angled single blade cutting edge and the two other edges at the top each offers their own qualities for cutting or scraping. I also enjoy the attention he gave to the handles.

 

That style tool morphed into an equilateral triangle, three equal faces and edges, when made with the 3/32" Craftsman tools. Being so small, sharpening while not really seeing which side was up with the 2 and 1 faces tool, some of them grew into the equal sided variety. With the recent piece, I used the heavier three sided piece a lot as a shaving and initial undercutting tool, and at time sort of as a graver or V-tool.

 

The round faced tools are great as gouges and for shallow scraping. See this piece: http://www.janeljaco...rvings/488.html . It is bovine bone, and what a fun material it was to carve! I used the rounded scrapers on the petals and where the leaf curls at the edges.

 

I have a few tools from Japan that are used for ivory, but they work equally well with boxwood and other dense, fine grained woods. I also use re-purposed dental tools for small and uniquely shaped cutters and scrapers.

 

The tools I use can be worked by pushing, as with the chisels and the ovals as gouges. The three sided, whether the 2and1 or equal sides, can be used as cutters and scrapers, are used as was shown to me by Komada Ryushi a netsuke carver/teacher in Japan. The thumb of the hand holding the piece becomes a fulcrum, the other hand holds the tool handle a little like holding a pencil, but with the fingers straighter. The middle finger of that hand is placed on the tool shaft which is then placed against the object holding hand's thumb, and then move about in a scraping or cutting action, what ever the stroke requires.

 

I use a 4x4 of cedar cut back at an angle and screwed to my bench to provide a sturdy place to press the carving against. More tool pressure can be used, and the object being carved is stabilized.

 

There is an ancient video in the Getting Started and Resources forum area at the bottom of the forum areas. My current tools are not shown there, for the most part, but it does show the holding and movement that I tried describing above. http://www.thecarvin...ctional-videos/

 

Oops, I wrote a novelette again,

 

Janel

 

 

* Stephen Myhre is a bone and stone carver from New Zealand.

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Thanks Janel,

No worries about the novelette ;) so much useful information it's worth the read. I realised I have a couple of old HSS 1/8th drill bits lying around that I can probably re-purpose into tools based on some of these ideas. I have some of the silicon carbide dremel bits and wondering if I could use those to shape the tips, I'm guessing with the very small face being ground that the small diameter of the grinding surface wouldn't be too much of an issue. I also have some hardwood (Australian Jarrah) that I can shape handles out of.

 

It may take a little longer to show my next piece as I'm going to have to indulge in some tool making first, and some practice on using them. I do have the Stephen Myhre book around somewhere amongst the, as yet, unpacked boxes of books I brought from New Zealand when I emigrated. I must spend some time to hunt it down and re-read as it must be at least 6 or 7 years since I saw it.

 

Bovine bone is the material I have the most experience with carving and I love how it is capable of holding detail and feels nice to carve as it has no real appreciable grain. My only issue with it is the limited flat areas available for larger carvings, which is why I tracked down the Giraffe bone that I'm working with at the moment. It's understandably a lot larger and also much thicker giving more opportunity for depth in carvings. It also has an amazing colour and grain but still capable of fine detail, it's also softer feeling than the bovine and almost feels pliant, but still very strong and capable of polishing to a glossy finish.

 

Your use of the angle cut block to carve on top of is good and I may see what old wood I have lying around to use, I have a bag ( about 5" long and 2" thick) I made out of an old leather handbag, rough leather side out, that I have packed relatively tightly with rice that I work on top of. I find it allows the work to settle in a little and also doesn't mark the surface while I'm working on the back. I'm now thinking about your angled block with a leather pad on the top, attached, with the rice under it, might make a really nice work surface. As my eyes are getting a bit older I work under a ring lit magnifier, so lifting and tilting the surface might take some of the stress out of my neck from looking down all the time.

 

Thanks so much for your time and experience, it's much appreciated. I'll spend some time looking through all the resources you've listed above and maybe the next work will show some changes :)

 

Steve

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Hi Steve,

 

I will try to be brief this time. My first non-Dockyard tools were exactly what you mentioned, HSS drill bits, using the butt end. Worked okay until new tool shapes and stock came along.

 

I am glad that you have a copy of Stephen's book.

 

How thick is giraffe bone?

 

http://janeljacobson.com/toolsstudio/47.html Bench pin. I use a height adjustable office chair without arm rests, which relieves the back and neck with various carving activities.

 

Bye for now (short enough response?)

 

Janel

 

Yes, the sand bag idea is good. Someone gave me one, but the leather has some oil in it that gets into the wood, so it is used for things other than finish work. I also have Rockler bench pucks that work in their own ways for some things.

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Janel,

 

The giraffe bone has a carvable thickness in the centre of the flat areas up to 12 or 13 mm (compared to bovine at about 5 or 6mm) and as it's roughly triangular there are corner areas where the bone is up to 2cm thick. Around the joint end of the bone there appear to be some very solid areas more than 2 cm thick, and I'm hoping to get some netsuke type carvings out of them.

 

Best of all the bone has a large flat side that is going to allow for carvings up to 6cm across the flat. It's also almost a meter long so no real restriction on how long the works are. I'm hoping once I get a bit more experience with it that I might do some decorative panels and frame them up.

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Hi Steve,

 

I saw your work and never took the time to comment about it.

First of all welcome on TCP.

As for you cross cultural work, well done.

The only thing I am wondering about your first piece is how will react the wire loops, after long time hanging around someone's neck?

And for the wire loop uneveness...well after the tenth attempt it should get better and better ;)

About your 2nd piece.....honestly, the first time I saw it, I've been amazed.

Like Janel point it out, the finish with hand tools might transform it a bit (even a lot), but:

The general mix is already amzing in itsefl

and to know that this was done with dremel tools....speachless. I can only imagine how much precise your pieces will be once you got handtools....

keep it on.

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  • 1 month later...

Well Janel I took your advice and have spent a little time (relative to a lifetime :) ) and made myself some micro scrapers. I decided to try some cheap cobalt steel 1/8 drill bits and carved a couple of different shapes up using silicon carbide heads on the dremel.

 

So far they appear to be working well and I'll start refining the shapes a little based on what I'm finding while using them. I went back to the original carving I did and basically worked on reshaping all those intersections to be sharper. It's not perfect and I can see a few places where I should probably go back and do a little more but I think the difference is pretty cool. The flow of the lines is much more obvious and the shapes are so much cleaner. Also being able to scrape/polish down in the tiny holes means the finishing is more even and since I haven't had to resort to sandpaper there are no flat spots.

 

I'd really like to know if compared to how it was, if you and others see an obvious difference ?

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Hi Again Steve,

 

I checked you intro post, that I missed....and man, you got me in awe again, this first Toki of yours....Bravo, love it.

You definitely have to keep at it bro....

 

Thanks Christophe, the praise is really appreciated. I'm enjoying working on these and to know that others like them is good to know. As you can see by my reply above I've taken the advice and started working on the hand tools and I think the difference is really worth it.

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Hi Steve,

 

Thank you for posting the revised piece. Yes, I think that I can see good changes from before. It is a little difficult to scroll up and down while trying to compare areas, and the lighting and background are different, but the shapes that the intertwined areas make are more of their own instead of a softer mass.

 

Good going with making some tools. You are opening doors for yourself and will have even more fun as you figure out what more you can ask of the tools, and how to make tools that your needs dictate.

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