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First miniature carving


Ed Twilbeck

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I am attempting my first miniature carving well it is about 2X the size of a netsuke. I am using basswood and the size due to the tools that I have now. More tools have been ordered. The carving is of the Winged Tennin, which I am using as a model for my carving. What I want to know from any who is willing to answer me is.

What do you use to measure, if you have such a tool, to lay out the face and other parts of the carving? I understand about the facial portions with using the size of the eyes, and the size of the head for the body. Do you use any tool for sizing, or do most just use the artistic eye for the best appearance? Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

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Proportioning of figures is an interesting topic. If you are working from a model, then I would say to take measurements up the model, multiply by your scaling factor, and come up with the dimensions for your carving. In the past when I've followed a model, there is a constant dialog between it and what I'm creating, with measuring and marking ongoing.

 

Something I am learning though is that sometimes, the potential is there to follow the model TOO accurately. The task then becomes about reproduction rather than creation, and where's the fun in that :blink: ?

 

As far as proportions for humans and humanoid figures, you'll find with looking around that there are no hard and fast rules. Many carvers follow real human proportions (where the head is 1/7 or 1/8 the total length of the body, if I remember art school lessons...) while others do more of a 1:5 or 1:4 ratio. It is up to you. With carving small, certain parts have to be exaggerated sometimes in order to create visual impact.

 

Here is an example of compressing proportions from the following website:

http://www.hanakagesho.com/nezu-netsuke/jp...rame-itaro.html

 

post-10-1140121705.jpg

 

 

Conversely, Ryushi is the name of a Japanese carver who often chooses women for his subjects and portrays them in life-like proportions. Google his name and you should be able to turn up some images

 

-Doug

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An adventurous start! Have fun with it and let us see how things turn out. (but I wouldn't take their attribution seriously :blink:;) )

 

It's nice they present so many views. My advice would be to use the pictures as a rough guide, but once you carve the volumes, put the pictures aside and let your originality flow :)

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If I'm working from a set of drawings, I either use a pair of dividers to transfer measurements from the drawing to the carving, or print out several copies of the drawings, glue them to cardstock and then cut out the parts I'm interested in. For instance, if I want to be accurate in transferring eye locations, I'll just cut out the head (on paper glued to cardstock), poke (or cut) holes for the eyes, mouth or other landmarks, then use a fine pencil point to transfer those. These small cutouts serve as templates. To make my "plans", I work up larger scale drawings, scan them into the computer, doctor them as required, then scale them to final size and print those out. I also often find that a drawing that looked good in a larger size needs reworking or simplifying in smaller scales.

 

If I'm having a particularly hard time of it, or planning on a complex piece, I'll make up a model from clay. I tend to avoid this if I can, since that sometimes makes me feel like I've already done the carving, and start to lose interest.

 

More often, I just eyeball it. Many times I find the eyeballing works the best, and I end up liking the piece better that way. Often more fun, too. I think, especially in very small carving, that an accurate reproduction of a set of plans or proportions sometimes, maybe most times, doesn't really work. Some areas need "selective compression" and others need a disproportionate increase in size to "look" right. The art world seems to have known this practically forever, especially in human proportioning. "Heroic" proportions, as in much of Greek and Roman statuary, are a good example. I believe Michelangelo’s "David" has similar exaggerated proportions. It all depends on the individual work.

 

I suggest you try a few carvings both ways, find out what works for you, get some constructive criticism from folks you respect and who will tell you the truth, then apply for an artistic license. Once you have an artistic license, you can do anything you want and justify (or rationalize) the whole thing. Just kidding about the artistic license part.........

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Thanks for the input. I will take all that was sent to me and add it to my thoughts. I have done larger carvings in the past; I think it was the size of this face that got me thinking and wondering how to size the face to a small sitting body. Most of my carvings before were 8" to 20" tall. Now to do a 2†carving is a new challenge. So far all is going well, I will try to get a picture up of the finished carving.

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The First miniature carving “The Winged Tennin†had some things I did wrong. First was using basswood. I broke her flute. And then dropped her and broke the flying ribbon, which was cut to thin for basswood. Well she sits in the box for a later time. Good news is that the Dockyard tools that I ordered came in yesterday. Looking for a new carving to start. Thanks for the input on the questions I had; they will be more, as I work into the world of small. :blink:

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Have worked with some harder woods before, but not with small carvings. Mostly with turning, box building, and larger carvings, using power reciprocating carver. The largest part of the carving easy and fast. I just purchased an auto mach reciprocating carver at a woodcraft store, that was on the markdown table, for $200.. :blink:

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