Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the category “Moving Day”

Crate’s Ready for Packing

I painted the crate with a sand coloured acrylic followed by some browns ( burnt umber and asphaltum ) at the edges of the boards along with some grey to make the boards look weathered.  I then added several washes of light beige ( linen ) and yellow to give the impression of weathered grain.  After I lettered the sign, I “scrubbed” in some yellow ochre and raw sienna to dirty things up.

I picked up the lettering style from a web search for “1930’s signs” and I think it turned out pretty well.  I kept the lettering painting pretty thin ( almost like a wash but a bit heavier ) so that it would be a bit translucent and look like it had worn away.  Finally, I finished up with a few streaks of yellow and the sand colour in spots to make it look like the lettering had completely worn through in those areas.

Everything got a light coat of satin polyurethane that was applied and then mostly removed with a paper towel.  This method of the final coat is something that Lynn Doughty “taught” me and it produces a nice dull but protective finish.

Mervin’s business slogan just seems to fit the situation….!



Some Paint Added

Below are a few items that I’ve painted so far.  I’ve stained the furniture much the same way as you would stain full size furniture and then have used a lot of browns and yellow ochre to give the furniture an aged and used look.  Everything is followed by a light dry brushing of an ivory/beige colour and a final coat of satin polyurethane.

Ready to Start Painting

I still have a few things to tidy up on the carving portion of this project, but I’m itching to start painting so I thought that I’d put the knives away for a while and pull out the paint brushes next.  Here’s what I’ve accomplished recently…

The lamp stand now has a lampshade made of brass.  I used a .010″ thickness of brass sheet and soldered the one edge to create the open ended cone for the shade.  Brass sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to solder, but I find that if I really burnish the surface up with sandpaper and then use a torch and solder ( rather than a soldering gun ), I can get a pretty good bond.


I also added a bit more interest to the birdcage that I carved by opening up the bottom portion a bit and inserting some copper wire to resemble the cage.  I also soldered a small washer over a short piece of copper wire and with a bit of bending and hammering ended up with a pretty reasonable looking hook.  With a few wrinkles carved into the wood, it’s starting to look like a cloth draped over the cage.


So, prior to some dabbing of paint, this is what it’s looking like.  I’ve added an old-time vacuum cleaner and the little bird that escaped the cage prior to packing.  You won’t be able to tell from this photo, but the cat’s eyes are now less evil thanks to Peggy’s prompting…




Who Thought of a Cat?

Well, all of the fine women in my life suggested that a cat was needed so I added one peeking out from beneath some clothes tucked away in the dresser drawer.

Now, I’m not a cat person.  It’s not that I don’t like cats.   I’ve been very nice to cats that we’ve had or that family members have had.  It’s just that I prefer to own a dog.  Really prefer.

In fact, Peggy tells me that by just looking at this cat she can tell that I’m not a cat person. She says the cat looks evil.  I think, then, that I got it about right…




Leave the Chow

This little dog is now pulling away on the sack of dog chow determined that it stays behind.

I’ve dowelled the sack to the crate and also dowelled about an 1 1/2″ into the dog’s mouth and into the sack.  Once I’ve painted this part up and epoxied it in place, it should be fairly strong and act as an anchor point for the back end of this carving.

I suppose that any wood carving can be broken, but I’ve done my best here to have a fairly strong base that should stand up to reasonable handling.



Final Detailing

Up to this point I’ve been placing the individual pieces in place temporarily with a glue gun just so that I could get the general shape and location of items figured out.  Now, I’m taking the next step of detailing each piece to it’s final shape before painting.

Working from the “centre” of the pile ( which happens to be the crate ), I’ve started by adding a few wood cracks and various knicks into the crate with a knife and chisel.  I’ve also included a few nail heads here and there where you’d imagine the crate is held together.  To make the nail heads, I took a piece of copper tubing ( about an 1/8″ diameter ) and sharpened the circumference of one end with a fine file.  I then fastened it to the end of a soldering gun with some fine copper wire.  With the soldering iron heating up the tubing, I was able to pretty quickly burn the nail heads into the wood.

The back of the crate was drilled out for a 1/4″ dowel as was the back of Mervin.  I did the same thing to locate the mattress against the crate, which you can see in the photo below. Once everything is painted, these dowel pins will be epoxied in place and will give the carving a lot of strength.


To get the detail into the mattress, I used a knife to cut fairly deep diamonds with a four pointed centre depression.  Then with a shallow chisel, I smoothed out the contour from the outline of the diamonds to the centre depression.  I think it turned out pretty well.  In fact, I’m going to have to rearrange some of the other items to make sure that you can see the mattress once everything is piled on!



The Shaggy Dog

Well, with the help of a small gouge, our little dog became the little shaggy dog.  Paul calls him Snoopy and I’m not sure why…

With the rough contouring I did earlier, the small gouge accentuated the hills and valleys in his coat and made the whole thing come to life, I think.  I added a metal ( lead ) collar and tag as well.  The tag is attached to the collar with some copper wire.  If you use lead, remember, it’s safe as long as you don’t ingest it…so, wash your hands after handling it.  It’ll all eventually be painted and sealed.



I also started a covered birdcage and little bird that somehow got out just in time for the big move.  This thing is getting tall and I’m not sure where I’m going to put it once it’s done!



Back to Carving

Now that the clay work is done, I can get started on the carved version of the dog.

I made a quick pencil outline on a piece of paper based on the top, front and side view of the clay sculpture and then transferred that to a piece of basswood.  When it came off of the bandsaw, it looked like this…it looks huge only because it’s closer to the camera.


Once again, I used a combination of a Foredom tool with a Typhoon bit and later, a Proxxon  motorized carver to do the roughing in of the shape.  It’s still pretty chunky compared to the clay version, but that’ll give me a bit of  room for detailing.  All the detailing will now be done with knives and chisels.  I’m going to try to skinny down this little dog so he looks hungry enough to want to steal that sack of dog chow.


I had also done some preliminary work on the dog chow sack that this little pup will be trying to pull off of Mervin’s load.  I actually googled “Purina” dog chow and got a whole slew of different dog chows from a variety of brands dating back to production in the mid 1800’s in the U.K….Spiller’s, Molassine, Vims and several more.  I’ll choose one to put it’s 1930’s era logo and slogan on the sack.  One slogan is simply “better than the others”…I wonder who came up with that marketing breakthrough?

So, here’s what it’s going to roughly look like when the dog and sack is complete and in place.  Again, a benefit of adding the dog is to give me another base point for the carving.



Speaking of hungry and troublesome dogs,  Rosie is enjoying our first big ( and late for us ) snowfall.






A Troublesome Friend

I just needed to add a dog somehow and decided that a mutt of some kind could possibly add to Mervin’s troubles.

I’m starting with clay again just to get the right pose down before I start into the wood carving.  This little dog will be tugging away at a sack of dog chow on Mervin’s load.

The addition of the dog is two-fold, really.  The  idea of it trying to keep the chow will help tell the story of moving, but it will also provide a third support for the carving…Mervin’s two feet and the dog.  I may even drill a long hole and install a rod or screw from the base of the carving up through the dog’s mouth and into the sack to give greater strength to the overall carving.

Here’s the start to the clay sculpture.  There could be a bit of Spaniel, Lab and Basset in this little guy.  You artists and dog lovers chime in…does the pose look right?




And it goes on…

…this may be getting out of hand…



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