tributesinwood

Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Placing the Head

I want to get that tilt to the head just right as that will give the body a good contorted look to it…like he’s hanging there on his rope and twisting around to get a good swipe on that dirty window.

I carved the head much the same way as I’ve done my previous carvings, which is very similar to the way that Lynn Doughty teaches on his videos.  Take a look at Lynne’s site (www.outwestwoodcarving.blogspot.ca) and specifically his videos on carving the head…they’re very helpful.

I have to say, though, I’m disappointed in the quality of the basswood that I’m using.  I probably should have just stopped carving the head and started again on a less grainy piece of wood.  It seems that regardless of how often I’m sharpening my knife, the grain is occasionally tending to crush rather than slice.  If anyone has any advice about basswood selection, I’m all ears.

Paul is my hand model in the first shot and I’ve also included him as “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast!  Click on the photo to make it bigger.

 

 

 

 

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Back to Mervin

Well, it’s back to my little window cleaner.  I can’t let that sound like I’m going to be completely dedicated to this little guy in the next while because it’s fall now and that means lots of clean-up around the house when you live in Ontario.  But it’s all fun.

I’ve taken the roughed-in version of the carving that I did with the Foredom tool and Typhoon bit and trimmed everything down a bit with knives and gouges.  Not a lot to tell you on this other than the fact that I used some simple callipers to take measurements from the clay sculpture that I did and transferred those dimensions to the carving.  I’m not all that particular when I do this…I’m just using the clay as a general model for what the carving might look like.  If it’s out a bit, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Now that I have it to this point, I’ll do a bit of work on the head before returning with more dimensioning and detail.

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Finished Up

I added a few details like door knobs from little brass nails and I used a punch to imprint some circles where the wood panels exist to make them look like large nail heads.  Following that, I brushed onto the carved sections one coat of satin urethane finish.  I’ve left the uncarved portions of the bark unfinished as I’ve found that the urethane turns the “raw” bark quite dark and it doesn’t really look all that appealing in my opinion.

So, here it is…click on the picture to make it bigger.

 

Finishing Up The Carved Portion

I cleaned up all of the window openings by first drilling out the glassed portion and then trimming around it with a small knife to produce the individual panes.  You can see the drilled out portion on the little shed windows

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Following that, I added a few more accents.  A new lower door came into play.  Because the bark was a little indented at this point, the door is now cut further into the bark and looks a bit recessed.  I also extended the brick work and added a few larger blocks beneath them for support.  Wouldn’t want all of those bricks falling apart for lack of a good foundation!

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And that pretty much brings me to the end of the carving portion of this project.  I want to touch up a few pieces and use some sandpaper on the insides of the windows to take away any remaining fuzzy parts…and then it’s time to apply a urethane finish.

Building a Shed and some Brick-Work

I started off by deepening the glass frames, window and doors on the upper level.  You have to be pretty careful when trimming the bark down to what will become window and door frames as the bark is fairly fragile when thinned down.  When I do cut the windows through, I’ll want to leave at least a 1/4″ depth of bark for strength.

I also started the rows of brick.  Start with cutting the horizontal lines and then add the horizontal breaks for bricks.  Remember to alternate back and forth with the bricks so that you don’t end up with the ends of the bricks one on top of the other.  I also like to make the bricks look irregular by cutting the edges off randomly so that they lose their flat profile.  The fewer flat profiles throughout the carving, the better, as it will give a nice shadow effect when the light hits it.

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For the first time in my bark carving experience, I added a couple of pieces with glue to make the shed.  So, I trimmed that protrusion on the side of the bark to give it a flat profile and then glued a piece to the side.  That’s the four-sided piece you see sitting vertically.  I then took another larger piece of bark and by marking the top of the recess where it would fit with lead crayon, I transferred the markings to the top of the new piece, cut those “high point” markings away and eventually got the roof to fit nicely.  I just used a woodworking glue and it worked very nicely.

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Now onto some shingles on that new roof so the rain doesn’t pour in…

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A Bark Lighthouse

Here’s the start to a bark lighthouse based loosely on a famous lighthouse found at Martha’s Vineyard.  Known as the Gay Head Lighthouse, it’s famous in that it was moved intact from it’s location in 2015.  You can google it and you’ll find that it’s an interesting story.

The bark is from a Cottonwood tree near Kingston.  This climate produces a thinner and darker version of the bark than that which you would see from the west coast.  You might recall that the lighthouse that I made for Peggy’s uncle some time ago was made from the same tree.

Here’s where it starts…looking hard at a piece of bark to try to see a lighthouse in it!  Can you see it?  How about a lighthouse with a little shed-like shelter at the base?  See it now?

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The lighthouse that I’m carving has a very large glassed section with a similar sized level below it and then a final base that’s about 2 1/2 times longer than the upper levels.  I’m using a bit of creative licence to add the little shed and I’m going to add some cedar shingled roofs and larger, aged bricks just because they look really good in a bark carving.

Here’s the first roughing-in.  Although you want to be very close to a vacuum system, I like to use a Foredom tool and Typhoon bit to do the initial shaping.  It’s quick and it’s easy on the bark.

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Then with a couple of knives and a gouge, I added a bit of detail to start getting the dimensions right.  If you have tried bark carving, you’ll know that it doesn’t carve like a block of wood.  The only way that I can describe it is to imagine that you’re carving a softwood that has some qualities of cork.  The knife or gouge isn’t quite pushed or pulled through the material…it’s more like a shearing action where you slide the knife along as you push or pull.

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Now you can see where that shed is going to go, right?  Of course, before it’s finished, all of that glass area and windows / doors will be hollowed out.  I like to keep that to the last so that the bark is as strong as possible while I’m carving so I don’t run the risk of damaging anything.

From Clay to Wood

Why is it that everytime I start a little fun project, a bunch of seemingly necessary projects come up to interfere?  I can remember as a kid always enjoying the fall period as it meant the start of a new winter project…usually a model airplane…and nothing seemed to get in the way of that.

But I did take a bit of time to rough in the basswood blank based on the clay sculpture.

I decided to do the head separately again just so that I could get the right sideways glance that I wanted.  I also decided to do the arms separately so that I would have a better chance at getting the wood grain going in the strongest direction.  My plan is to attach the arms just below the rolled sleeves.

So with a quick approximation on the bandsaw and them some callipers to transfer the dimensions from the clay to the wood, here’s where I ended up.  Note again that I used a Foredom tool with a typhoon bit to remove the wood quickly.  That’s what created the fuzzy appearance on the wood.  Now that it’s at this point, I’ll get to carving with a knife and gouges.   Still a lot of slimming down to do.

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Mervin Moves Up

Well, Mervin of “Mervin the Mover” fame was so successful that he has decided to add another venture to his business empire.  Plus, his slogan of “One Haul…That’s All” is taking its toll on his back.  Time to move up, lean back and enjoy life.

Yup…window cleaning.

So, I dug out the old clay figure that I had created for Mervin the Mover and with a bit of bending and breaking away the dry clay from the copper armature that I made, I’ve twisted him into a posture for window cleaning.  Now, Mervin is vintage ’30s so don’t expect him to have the best safety harness as he’s cleaning downtown, high rise apartments….just a sling or rope that he’s leaning back against.

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With a bit of clay added, you can see that he’s leaning back with his heels planted on the ledge of the high rise window.  He’ll have a rag in his right hand as he wipes away a spot and his left hand will be holding a bucket of suds and a squeegee.

I’m thinking that this one’s going to be called “Missed A Spot.”  And I’m pretty sure that it will somehow include a little dog.

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The Completed Carving

Here’s the completed carving of “Another Dam Carver”.  I’ll get some more pictures up later in the week.  A nice little momento of Canada’s 150th birthday.

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Let The Chips Fly

A few wood chips glued in place are making the little guy’s project a bit more interesting…

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