Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the category “Hound Trio”

Photo – Opportunity for the Hounds

Well my little Hound Trio on the Louisiana dock is now finished.  I’m very proud of the way that this carving shaped up.

It’s actually quite a large carving at about 14″ by 14″ at the base with the “longest” hound at 7 1/2″ and the “tallest” hound at 5″.  I like the expression and character of each of the little Basset Hounds as well as the little squirrel.

The dock area and base really turned out to my liking, also.  I really put a lot of relief and depth into the dock with lots of cracks and imperfections, nails along the plank lengths, some broken planks with a bent nail where a plank had been less than carefully pried away and ropes wound around the piers to protect little fishing boats that tie up for the night.

This is a Louisiana scene so the Cypress knees were added to that effect.  I like the way that they turned out and the way that they balance the dock scene.

The base itself came from a real nice piece of red oak.  The grain just turned out beautifully as I think that between the rolling contour and the fairly strong grain pattern you’re left with an impression of a water scene.

I like this carving and am glad that the idea was offered up…I would definitely not have come up with this idea on my own!

Enjoy the pictures below and please click on the Flickr site on the links to the right of this page to take a look at some additional photos.  Enjoy!





Base Readied for Staining

Is there anything quite like working with wood?

My earliest memories and just about all of the memories that I have of growing up with my Dad had something to do with working with wood in some fashion or another.  I can remember as far back as the first job I was given was to blow the sawdust off of the pencil cut line while he used the handsaw.  It seemed that there was always something made of wood that either needed to be created or fixed.

He’d get a real kick out of my latest carving of the Three Hounds and would even have appreciated the way that the base for the carving is coming along.

I’ve done some sanding and used the router to put a nice edge on the base.  This weekend, I’ll finish it with a medium stain and a few coats of urethane to give it a nice shine.


Creating an Oak Base

I picked up a beautiful piece of red oak at my favourite lumber mill just north of town.  Card Lumber.  What a great spot for someone who likes wood.  I found a nice length of 8″ wide oak that was planed down for me to about a 3/4″ thickness.  After a few quick saw cuts, I had it clamped down and laminated to produce about the 14″ by 14″ base that I would need.


That Black & Decker Workmate that you see the boards clamped down on was given to me as a Christmas present from my much missed Dad about 30 years ago and has served me very well…and has seen a lot of projects big and small.  I used that table to carve a rocking horse for my 2 year old daughter ( she’s no longer two ) and I used that same table for some pretty major house renovations over the years.

A nice piece of red oak emerged after gluing.  Now, how many people do you know who would take a picture of a piece of wood to post on their website?  You have to love wood.  It’s a sickness, really.


Then to the bandsaw to create a nice flowing contour around the carving.  I like the contour work around the carvings of docks and such as it leaves me with the impression of water without actually trying to add and paint a water scene.  I’ve never come across a wood carving that includes a water scene that looks right to me…I much prefer a hint at a flat surface for water.  Plus, that red oak will just make the rest of the colours in the carving “pop” once it’s stained and urethaned.


The base is substantial because the carving is quite substantial.  The pencil mark that you see will be where the flat surface ends and a router with a Roman Ogee contour will begin…a nice flowing line from the “water” to the tabletop where the carving will be displayed.  This is going to look really nice.

Let ( at least one ) Sleepy Dog Lie

Ok, it’s not quite the expression we’re used to hearing, but it’s close. The little sleepy hound got its first pass at some added colour last night.  Still a bit more to add, however, this little hound’s colour pattern is a bit more open than her two buddies.  I want to add a bit more darkness to her face and of course some mournful eyes and a dark nose.  The colour is built up with several washes of asphaltum and chocolate brown…a little heavier on the asphaltum than the chocolate. This project is coming to a close and I’ll be sorry to finish it up as I’ve enjoyed this little creation. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a late addition with the eyes painted…now I’m really liking this carving…


Lucy the Squirrel Chaser

This little hound got a few facial features over the weekend.  The colours are a little duller than they will be once a urethane coat is applied…the urethane tends to accentuate the colours and, of course, provides a matte, protective coating to the acrylics.

The real Lucy has a combination of lighter brown, white and some black in her face and I tried to indicate that with a few various washes of colour and some “dabs” of browns and white.


The Squirrel Chaser

Here’s another quick update of the Howler and the Squirrel Chaser underway.  Both still require work to get all the colours that I’m looking for included in their coats.  Again, my method is to use a base coat of a cream colour with washes of the darker colour over top.

Washes of acrylic paint create a really nice effect…almost a depth of varying colour rather than just a single, solid colour.  I also like the washes for the fact that it keeps the edge of the darker colour coats varying in darkness so that you never end up with a solid transition from the cream colour to the darker browns and black.

So far, each of the dogs has about six or seven washes applied with some hair-dryer work in between.  I’m really enjoying the way that they are coming to life.


Painting the Howler

I’m not nearly complete on the painting of the Howler, but I had to put a quick photo up to show you the progress.

This little hound is tri-coloured and I used several ( many ) washes of chocolate brown, asphaltum and carbon black over the light cream coloured base that I applied the other day.

I’m pretty pleased with the way the Howler is turning out.


Final Touch Before Painting

Just a final touch on the figures before they get some paint.  I know this isn’t much of a photo of anything but I wanted to show a shot of what the tails look like with the coat of epoxy covering the twined copper wire.  The epoxy is just that…a two part “glue” that sets within five minutes.  You can get epoxy that sets at different rates, but the five minute version seems to be just right for coating these tails without too much dripping or sagging before the epoxy cures.

I’ll give the clear and smooth epoxy a very light sanding with fine sandpaper to give the acrylic paints something to bite into and adhere to well.  

This is a long weekend coming up and I know that at least one of those days is supposed to be rainy…so, maybe I’ll get a little ways into painting up my three little hounds.


Dock and Pier Painting

The dock, piers and the little squirrel got treated to some paint during this past week and I’m quite happy with the results.  Although the Three Hounds are the focal point of this carving, these “accessories” and background items really add to the total carving and give you an opportunity to add the little details that make all the difference…the squirrel holding an acorn, the rope wound around the piers, the nail heads and rust stains around each of them and the single bent nail where a dock board was removed ( which is probably a little hard to see in these photos, but, trust me, it’s there ).


Those Cypress Knees were unique to carve and paint.  The knees are actually protrusions from Cypress tree roots found mostly in the south and certainly in wet areas.  The painting, I think, captured the colours that you’d expect to see in a Cypress knee along with shading and use of Payne’s Grey to simulate the markings where tide waters would have stained the wood over time.


The piers and dock have a base coat of territorial beige and are highlighted with various shades of brown and grey…raw sienna, burnt umber, asphaltum brown, medium grey and payne’s grey.  Some spots of “dirt” were added with yellow ochre and raw sienna more or less scrubbed on with a small paintbrush.  The dock hasn’t received its coat or clear satin urethane yet, but once it does you’ll see the various colours that I added really come out.

I don’t know what it is about these little add-ons, but they tend to be the most liked parts of the carving sometimes.  I know that I brought this little squirrel and pier into work the other day to show friends who have been watching my progress and that little guy got a lot of positive attention.  I want to do a little bit more work on the eyes with some brown around the bottom section of the eyes and a nice coating of clear epoxy to make them shine.

This is a fun project and I hope that you are enjoying it as well.


Squirrels and Tails

Our little squirrel received a bit more detail attention and also found a little acorn to bring to the party.  The little guy also received a light coat of gesso as a paint primer and is ready for some acrylic colours.


The tails are made from regular household wiring.  I simply remove the protective plastic from the copper wires and twine together the “black”, “white” and “ground” wires into a tight little braid.  The way that I do this is to pinch one end of the three wires together in a vise and the other ends into the chuck of a hand driven drill.  You could also use a battery operated hand drill…but, make sure that you go slowly.  I would not do this with a drill that doesn’t have a variable speed as this would be just too fast and dangerous to you.  You end up with a “braided” wire that you can epoxy into a drilled hole in the carving and then shape to the curvature that you’re looking for.



Once I get the tails to this point and positioned the way that I want them, I mix up some slow setting two-part epoxy and coat the tails with this mixture.  As the epoxy sets, you can form the epoxy around the wire to make a nice smooth surface that hides the wire and makes a great, slightly roughened surface for painting.

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