This is probably the first time that I’ve just started carving heads not knowing what the project would end up looking like. Now that the heads are fairly complete, though, I’m starting to get some ideas.
Do you remember the old game show called “What’s My Line?” They’d introduce someone, say an airline pilot, and then contestants would try to guess who was actually the airline pilot amongst three people…the actual pilot and two imposters.
I was thinking about carving a bust for each of these heads…a Cowboy, a Sherlock-Holmes style Investigator and a Naval Officer of old. The busts would be situated on and behind a panel top with the words “What’s My Line” carved into the front. It would look like the original game show.
Well I had fun doing this carving as it was a bit of a departure from my other caricature carvings in that it was meant to resemble a specific person.
My friend, Pat, asked me to do a caricature of her husband, Al, ( also a friend!) doing what he enjoys…rocking on with his Fender guitar and amp. As it was a birthday surprise that he only received this past Friday and as he and Pat tend to follow what I’m doing on this blog, I had to wait to publicize things…so, here it is!
I started with a few photos that Pat sent me and downloaded a few additional photos of the Fender Stratocaster and amplifier that Al owns. Once again, I did the figure in clay and then used the clay figure as a model for the carving. The clay work was particularly helpful when modelling the face…I think that I would have gone through a lot of failed attempts if I had tried to do the initial resemblance in wood!
I actually started with the guitar and amp. The guitar is made from oak and I cut out the blank and added details based on a print-out that I made from a local music shop website…the nice part of doing this is that I was able to make the exact size that I wanted by reducing the print size to what I wanted and then just cut it out on the bandsaw. After some carving, some acrylic paint to simulate the wood grain and several coats of gloss urethane…pins, nails, metal tape and fine wire went into making up all of the details. The amp was made from basswood and includes some screws and metal tape. The amp screen was produced with a v-tool and several coats of alternating white and silver acrylic paint.
I did my typical carving of the head and hat separately using calipers that you see in the photo for measuring from the clay and then started into the body.
Once again, I kept the arms separate so that the grain direction of the wood was aligned as best as possible along the length of the arms. I had considered an additional joint at the one elbow but felt that the grain direction was pretty good and that glueing and pinning the “strumming” arm to the guitar would give it ample strength…plus, Al’s pretty careful with things!
The base is maple with a few lines that simulate floor planking. A few buttons ( decorative nails ) were added to what became a leather jacket and the Fender logos were painted on the guitar, amp and t-shirt.
I really enjoyed this project but the most enjoyment, by far, came from the smile on Al’s face!
Wendell needed a rope seat to lean back against as he’s washing the windows, so I grabbed some household electrical copper wire to fashion the ropes.
I chucked up just two strands of copper wire into my battery operated electric drill and with the other ends of the wire wrapped around a nail that I drove into my work table, I slowly wound the wires into a rope. To make the knots that I needed, I just took an inch or so length of this wound wire and curled it into something that looked like a knot. These curled pieces were later just slipped over the “rope” and crimped and glued in place.
The hooks that were glued in place on the window sills are cotter pins that were cut in half.
Everything got a light sanding, a coat of primer, some acrylic paint and finished with satin urethane. I’m happy with the way that they turned out.
You can look back at an earlier posting of when I created the brickwork and the stonework for this carving…just look under “Themes” for “Missed A Spot” and scroll back to see the original wood version of what follows.
The painting was fun. I started with the stonework by initially carving in a stylized “S” onto the two keystones. I found a nice font on the web, flipped the image vertically and then printed it off on an ink-jet printer. With the letter now printed backwards, it was a simple matter to rub the back surface and leave a faint image directly on the wood. A sharp knife and a bit of wood burning then created the image into the wood. I suppose we could argue that the “S” is like the Sheraton chain, but I’m going with Sheridan.
The stone ledges and headers were initially painted a light grey and then were covered with multiple “washes” of a sand coloured beige, yellow ochre and light grey. I then finished them up with some age related “stains” of yellow ochre, burnt sienna and asphaltum in the corners and “dripping” down the edges.
The mortar between the bricks was painted first with a light grey. I then dabbed more than brushed on a brown/red combination followed by some grey and yellow ochre. The dabbing was effective in giving the bricks a mottled look…I was careful to dab the colours randomly.
Now the kicker: I remembered using an antiquing stain back ( way back ) when Peggy and I dabbled in ceramic painting. I’m not sure how to describe this but I’m sure that it still can be purchased at ceramic shops or hobby shops. It’s black, looks similar to a wood gel-type stain and has a slight solvent smell. With a bit on the end of an artists brush, I dabbed an area of several bricks with this black stain and then wiped it off with a paper towel. I used the same stain on the stonework, but in that case I painted the complete stone and then wiped off the stain.
Here are some pictures that show the “before” with just the acrylic paints and the “after” with the stain applied. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out and I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks with the urethane finish coat.
The braided rug where the three little dogs will sit came together pretty nicely.
It’s nothing more than a thin layer of basswood, maybe 3/16″, in which I made some spiral cuts with both a v-tool and followed up with a burning tool tip to clean things up a bit. The individual braided part was created using a burning tool tip. I guess you’d call it a herringbone pattern and it’s pretty simple to do but it takes a bit of time. If you make a rug like this, just remember to give yourself enough room between spirals as you’ll need the room for the burned-in pattern.
Once that was done, I used three alternating colours to paint the patterns. You don’t have to actually switch between colours…just paint one “braid” or block, skip two and then paint the next braid until you’re finished with that colour. The other two colours will follow the same pattern and eventually fill in all of the braids.
I actually used a three colour combination of blues, greens and reds. Just pick a dark, medium and light colour in each of the blue, green and red combinations and start painting. Water down your acrylic paint and you’ll find that the paint flows nicely over the braid that you’re painting and the burned line keeps it from flowing beyond that braid.
The final touch was to do some dry brushing with a light beige colour just to pick up the high points and add a little more interest. So, this was just using a fanning motion lightly over the carving with a large brush loaded with little and almost dry paint. I think that without the dry brushing, the rug would look a little too new and a bit plastic looking. I’ll add a urethane finish for the final touch a bit later.
Well, I guess that I’m on a bit of a roll having not done anything creative for some time. It’s actually Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, so I’m painting in between eating too much turkey and goodies…and napping…eating turkey makes you tired ( at least that’s the story that I’m going with ).
Here are the three little dogs in their new colours. Once the acrylic paint is cured a bit more, I’ll add a final urethane coating for sealing things up.
Here’s how they’ll look when they’re all together inspecting Wendell’s cleaning efforts. I should mention that the first little dog that Peggy and I had was a white Westie just like the one I’ve carved…his name was Angus MacGregor. Angus once had an altercation with a skunk and after I bathed him in tomato juice to get rid of the smell, he was pink for several months.
I can’t seem to finish many carvings without adding a dog and this one isn’t going to be different.
This little dog will be watching the window washer with just about the same tilt to his head as that of the window washer. I may even add in another dog along the way.
I started with a fairly straight forward clay model of the dog and then just traced the outline of the front and side view of the model on to a piece of paper. Once I cut the pattern out on the bandsaw, I also cut the head of the dog off and with a wedge of basswood I glued everything back together again with what I thought looked like a nice tilt and sideways glance of the head.
I used Typhoon bits and a Foredom tool to do the initially roughing and followed that up with knives and a small gouge to make the fur along the body.
Now for a bit of detail on the brickwork. Remember, the idea here is to make it look like a 1930’s style high rise building…and, a little on the ritzy side.
I turned to my dremel tool for both the brick and masonry work ( on the outside ) and the carpentry work ( on the inside ). Some time ago, I purchased a plunge router base for the dremel tool from Lee Valley. It was a bit pricey but well worth the quality of the tool.
With a decorative bit, I outlined the masonry pieces to give them that finished look that you see in older, upper end buildings. I wasn’t too particular that everything looked perfectly straight as I wanted it to come across as masonry and not milled wood. I’ll add some roughness to these pieces before I paint them to make them look a bit porous.
I then drew in some mortar lines and, just by hand, used the dremel tool to follow those lines. Again, I didn’t use a straight edge as a guide as I didn’t want it to look too perfectly square. With a combination of banging on the brick surface with a couple of different size hammers and rasps, and finally poking it a million times with an awl ( looks like an ice pick ), I created what I think looks awfully close to a brick. Once I put multiple colours on this surface, I think it’s going to really pop out.
For the inside, I set up the dremel tool so that I could pass the baseboard and window trim between two clamped edges and made my own little wood mill. It was actually a lot of fun.
So, that’s where I’ll finish up on a very cold ( -23 C ) day. If you’re reading this post from somewhere that doesn’t measure temperature in Celsius…that’s cold.
Now, on to the high rise windows that need cleaning…
It’s a bit of an interesting challenge: I want it to look high but not be too tall…I want a window and frame but not be so small that you can’t see the details of the caricature…I want both the interior and exterior of the building…and, I want enough brickwork around the window to make it look like a building, but I don’t want the whole carving to be brickwork.
So, here’s the start to that process. I planed down a good sized piece of basswood to a little over an inch thick and then marked out the open window. I actually cut the window opening on the bandsaw to ensure nice straight lines and then glued and clamped the single cut “into” the window opening to patch things up.
Once that was done, I used a dremel tool with a dado bit on it to route out the window jambs and then went back to the bandsaw to cut out some stone work for the top and bottom ledge. I added a second “top” piece of stonework to add below the window to make it look like there are many other windows below. With the stone work cut-outs, I marked them on the basswood above and below the window and channeled out that area so that I’d have a place to glue the pieces.
And…here’s what it looks like so far from the inside. Lots of detailing to do.
The window cleaner will be sitting on a rope held “chair”…actually a plank with a couple of holes in the ends to tie a rope. Safety wasn’t a big thing in the 30’s for this particular fellow.
To get the right angle, I made up a bit of a jig so that I would be able to tell where the ropes would land against his body and where the flat portion of the seat of his pants needed to be to rest against the board.
Then it was on to the hat. I followed my now usual way of creating the hat…modelled off of the way that Lynn Doughty creates his cowboy hats. Basically, it’s cut a flat section off of the head and then carve the hat brow and crown in separate pieces by centering both on a dowel ( for locating ) and then using lead pencil to mark the high spots on mating surfaces…carve them away and then glue the hat together.
So, all together and with a bit of wood burning to make some seams and highlight some edges, here’s where we ended up.
So, that’s where we start in 2018. Happy New Year to you all!