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spring work


Mark Strom

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Mark,

 

I think the way you've rendered the bark , and the contrast with the smooth wood underneath, is very convincing. The leaves add a lovely lightness and delicacy to the arrangement too.

 

I liked the way you finished the background and the framing it provides, it's a well considered composition, in my opinion.

 

cheers, Ford :) ( the tsuba guy )

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I second Ford's comments- the variety of tool marks gives a nice, lively effect- great sense of spatial depth with low relief. Any pictures of the piece before coloration? I'm just curious because I'm always having a debate with myself over selective coloring or not.

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Hi Mark,

 

I agree - Very nice work all around. How deep is this piece - your relief work is wonderful. Where is panel going? I'd love to see it in relation to it's background so to speak. We have a good number of squirrels in our woods - I've never got to see a mother carrying her baby - I was curious if you had seen this or in a photo or was it an idea that just came into your mind? Thanks for sharing.

 

Magnus

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All of the above! Sorry I came in late here! I appreciate the way you differentiated the bark and the open scar wood. I have been wrangling with injured wood concepts, and very much like your solution. What it the material? What did you use for stain?

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Thank you all for the great comments. It is always good to have such support form your peers, especially those in this forum.

 

This is part of a series on tree bark where the focus is on the bark with the animal being secondary. Also experimenting with the graphic technique of crossing over the frame. This carving and the series is for myself as I have done 1 carving for myself in 3 years. The drawback of commission work!

 

Magnus: The piece is 1 3/4" thick x 9 1/2h x 23"l. The background is 3/4" with the actual carved piece 1" thick. The front piece was carved first, glued in place and then the finish carving was done. I saw a mother squirrel last summer evacuating my owl box when the screech owl decided to reclaim his territory. I get ideas, do studies on the subject and then research photos as support material. I have filing cabinets and bookshelves of ideas and support material. The design was based on an illustration from a book for children with further studies carried out from my front porch. Ah such hard work studies are with morning coffee!

 

Doug: I to debated about staining. The decision was made based on the fact that unless the lighting was correct details like the veining in the ivy would be lost. The ivy leaves are also carved in about an 1/8" of material with not much to undercut. I used an oil based wiping stain thinned 75% and built the finish by staining and wiping to build the depth.

 

Janel: The material is southern basswood which is yellower than what you will get in Minn. The grain is also a little more open than the northern species. I did color the scar wood slightly yellow in relation to the bark although you can't tell in the photo. Always shellac basswood with a least 2 coats of 50% shellac mixture as basswood will really suck up the stain.

 

Again thanks for the kind comments.

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Very nice work Mark. I particularly like how you have managed to make the carving seem so three-dimensional. Any chance to see a picture of the top or side of the piece to get a better understanding of the curvatures involved?

 

thanks for sharing

 

-t

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Hi Mark,

 

Very nicely done!! It is always difficult to achieve a sense of depth in a low relief sculpture, and you have done this well. Not to be repetative, but I like the variety of textures of the bark and smooth wood underneath as also. It looks as though you could peel a piece of bark off. It was the first thing that I noticed.

 

Phil

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Toscano: Unfortunately the piece is already gone and those are the only photos I have. The squirrel was almost a natural shape and was separated from the bkgrd down to the beginning of the bottom leg. The tree was a flattened oval if that makes sense.

 

Janel: Shellac before staining. The additional benefit is that the stain does not penetrate to deeply and you can tone the carving by additional rubbing to remove stain. On the finely carved and sanded pieces you create I would experiment a little beforehand. I have found from reading this forum and trying different processes that techniques I use on my larger pieces do not translate onto small works and vice versus.

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The density and hardness of the woods I use prevents much absorption, though the annual growth rings will absorb differently with some pieces of wood. Testing stain and color first is a standard practice that I would recommend.

 

Do you sand the shellac before staining? How do you apply the shellac? What is the other 50%?

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Janel: Basswood doesn't really have much real grain and is fairly consistent throughout. It definitely is a softwood for those not familiar and is not suited to small intricate work. I try not to sand basswood at all, once you start you are committed to sanding to a fine grit and risk losing detail in the process. The wood tends to fuzz up.

I use an orange shellac which is readily available at most hardware stores. This is thinned with denatured alcohol and brushed on using a good quality natural bristle brush.

I usually stain immediately and put another wash (thinned) coat of finish on to seal the stain. I then sand with worn out 150 or 280 grit paper. This does go through the finish and the stain somewhat but that is my intention to accent the carving marks. This is the technique that gives the bark more visual texture

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Hi all,

 

For those interested in basswood, and the possibilities of detail that it is capable or rendering, do an image search for "Grinling Gibbons", or check out David Esterley's website. For those who are not familiar with Gibbons, he was an English master carver who lived in the mid-18th century. He worked largely in limewood, a close relative of basswood (whivh is the North American variety of the species), and he is considered in architectural carving circles to be one of the best carvers to have ever lived. Gibbons was an avid and prolific carver of highly realistic foliage carving, and there are many similarities between his work and the Japanese style of rendering subjects in a detailed realistic manour.

 

David Esterly wrote a wonderful book about Gibbons and his techniques called " Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving", published by Abrams in 1998. The book also has a section on techniques of finishing.

 

Esterly refers to the sanding issue, and has some interesting techniques, involving the use of "Dutch rush", or "horse tail", as it is known around here. This is an abrasive plant that can be flattened out into small sheets of abrasive, and was often used like sandpaper in the 18th century. I have tried it, and it works well.

 

Phil

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I have the book on Gibbons and it is absolutely amazing. I have studied it for a long time but my mind just can't think that far ahead to build a complex carving like that in levels.

There is a difference in basswood and limewood. The limewood is denser due to the cooler climate and has more strength to it. Limewood also has a little more spring for lack of a better description. Southern basswood (US)is not as dense, has very little strength and delicate work relies totally on grain orientation. It has a tendency to crumble on areas like leaf tips unless the grain is oriented perfectly. Basswood is buttery to carve with sharp gouges while the limewood has a little more tooth to it. I plan on ordering northern basswood from Minnesota just to get a wood with more strength, limewood is not easy to get in the States. The costs is also 3x that of basswood.

I have never had the opportunity to try the rush material but sounds nice. It sounds as if it works almost like a scraper to some extent.

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Guest ford hallam

from what I understand of the Japanese tokusa rush that Janel refered to, and I assume applies to other reeds used in a similar way, it is actually the tiny particles of silica ( ie; sand ) that the plant has absorbed into its structure that provides the very fine scouring action. Another method of polishing fine woods, particularly if you want to enhance the grain in terms of texture, is to polish with a stiff brush and a finely ground fire clay or similar. Japanese woodworkers use a horsehair brush. I suspect that this was a fairly routine method of finishing fine wood carving in Japan in the past, certainly netsuke.

 

that's my little contribution to the woody types on the forum ;) .

 

Cheers, Ford

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Clay, is that all? I knew it was a power and wondered what ilk it might be! We have quantities of the whole gamut for clay body and glazes. Silica, Calcium Carbonate, Feldspars, Fire Clay, Ball Clay, Bentonite, to name a scant few, with many more... any hints for what might work? The fire clay's we have are multiple particle sized for a better throwing body (wheel work clay) and for shrinking/drying strength. Sorry for the diversion. I had wondered about the silica, which is ground quartz or flint as a polishing power. I suppose the "tooth" in the waxy sticks of different colors might be powdered grits of various mesh saturated with a binder.

 

I could collect such rush material when I am on my next walk and then send samples to a few individuals who might be interested. Email me your snail mail addresses. I don't know how widely dispersed this plant is, but before I send something redundant to your area, you should have a look in your low lands for a plant that looks like this, or a brushy variation like this one: Division Sphenophyta = horsetails part way down the page.

 

Phil White, posted a carving from basswood in his introduction in Who's Who, the man with the pike, with a lot of detail, and rich coloration. Thanks for clarifying about the difference between Lime wood and Basswood.

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Hi all,

 

Most of the work that I do is in basswood. There must be a considerable difference between the wood that grows around here, and that which grows in the mor southern cliamates. In my experience, basswood is capable of rendering terrific detail. It desn't rival boxwood, but it cuts cleanly and is extremely resistant to splitting off when working fine detail, acting much like Mark's description of limewood. However, it is likely that the wood that I am used to is much more dense.

 

The differences are the subject of much debate. Basswood is often refered to as a North American Linden. Limewood is an English term for linden. The Europeans just call it linden. I have friend who is an English-trained master carver, who says they are virtually the same. I had another friend, also an English trained carver, who claims there is a slight difference, much as mark has pointed out.

 

Phil

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