Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the tag “mechanical horse”

Finishing Up

First off…to the individual who plagiarized my last post and placed it on his own website…you did a poor job but nonetheless managed to reach a new low. I’ve reported this and will be monitoring the outcome.

Now back to it…

Once I had the body roughed in, it was time to start adding some detail. I decided on denim overalls cut high on the leg to show off her black and white saddle shoes. Some work with a knife and gouge followed up with some wood burning of clothing lines, stitches and deepening of wrinkles was all that was needed to get into painting. When you’re adding wrinkles, don’t leave things to guesswork…look at photos of similar poses or just look in the mirror as you pose for yourself and make sure that you’re getting the wrinkle lines going in the right directions.

The hat and it’s placement was next in line and I approached it as I normally have in the past…brim and crown carved separately and then glued together. The only difference in this carving is that the hat would not be sitting on the head of the figure. So, a few things…I gave some thought to measuring the head of the figure so that the hat would look the right size…I made the side of the brim flatter where it would be held by the hand and I made the other side that would be high in the air have a greater curl…finally, I had to carve out the inside of the crown because you’d be able to see up into the hat when it was positioned on the girl’s outstretched hand.

I painted things up using my normal technique of washes, or thin coats, of acrylic paint followed with some darkening of recesses and wrinkles and then dry brushing for wear on clothing. The final dry brushing placed a very light “fanning” of a light beige colour to catch the peaks of the knife marks and provide another dimension of depth to the painting. Everything was topped off with a light coat of satin urethane for protection.

As I started gluing things together, I added metal pins here and there for positioning and extra strength. A good example is where the figure’s “behind” meets the rolled blanket. A couple of short pieces of copper wire ensured that I had a secure footing for the small dabs of epoxy that I placed.

The bit for the horse’s mouth was fashioned from a safety pin after taking a look at how Lynn Doughty had created the bits that he had used for larger horse caricatures. I just snipped the ends of a safety pin, gave one end a ninety degree bend and epoxied them in place. The reins are leather and were sliced from an old wallet that I had laying around. I used a latex glue used for fabrics called “Tear Mender” to fold over and glue the rougher side of the leather.

There’s nothing terribly noteworthy about the small add-ons that I carved…a baseball and glove…other than the child’s lunchbox. For the first time, I transferred an image to a piece of wood. There are all kinds of how-to Youtube videos on this subject that use a variety of methods, maybe the most popular being the use of Mod-Podge. I didn’t have any on hand, so I used white glue with pretty good results.

Basically, I printed an image of “Dudley Do-Right”, a 1960’s children’s cartoon, onto regular printer paper. Because their was text on the image, I printed it in its reverse image. After coating the wood with white glue, I squeegied the paper down. After everything was dry and a combination of peeling the paper back and adding a tiny bit of water to remove more paper, an image was left on the lunch box. A urethane finish took any cloudiness out of the transferred image.

I wanted the base to look like an old department store floor, so I went with black and light grey tiles. After marking the tiles with pencil, I burned the lines in place so that when I applied thin coats of paint, the alternating colours would not bleed into one another…the paint would only flow as far as the burned line. I then took grey and white and sprayed some droplets over the whole thing by running my finger along a flat brush just a couple of inches above the painted floor.

And after some gluing, that’s another very enjoyable project completed. I hope that you’ve enjoyed following along.


Positioning the Rider

Now I was at the point that I needed to start making some decisions as to the positioning for the body of the girl rider. I wanted to get as much motion in this carving as possible, so I went with a body position that you would see in a rodeo rider on a bucking bronco!

I found some body proportions measurements for a young girl off of the web and put together a copper wire wound skeleton that I could build a clay model around. I soldered the hip and shoulder connections so that it would be nice and strong and allow me to bend things around to my liking without the worry of something breaking or not holding its shape.

Adding clay and building up the body outline is done a “pinch” at a time. With a bit of practice, you’ll find that you can build the body outline, position it and bend it around to its best position within an hour. Following that, a couple of quick photos front and side, sizing on the printer and printing out a template to transfer to basswood…and you’re ready for the bandsaw. The last photo, below, was taken after I spent a few minutes very roughly shaping the square-ish cutout from the bandsaw.

As I began trimming down the girl’s outfit to a denim overalls look, I started to worry a bit about the strength of the carving. In particular, I wanted her standing and leaning way back on the stirrups and off of the saddle…and there was no way that I was going to make the stirrups rigid enough and rigidly attached enough to her feet and to the horse for that to work. What I arrived at was the need to have her bottom off of the saddle but attached to something. So, I stole an idea from Lynn Doughty’s caricature horses ( thanks Lynn ) and added a rolled up blanket which would be just large enough for her bottom to rest on. The bottom of the blanket roll fits the contour of the horse’s back and the back of the saddle nice and tightly so that I can be sure that I’ll have a good glue joint.

Now for the stirrups and the positioning of the somewhat carved body. I’ll start by saying that I’ll not make the stirrups in two pieces ever again. I had it in my mind that I’d need to articulate the stirrup and the stirrup leather to fit the position of the legs. After too much work in making the separate parts, drilling the stirrup for a nail “hinge” and then gluing everything together…I realized that I would have been just as well off by making the two pieces in one straight piece. I did enjoy carving the stirrup leather, though, as it had an interested half twist to transition from the saddle to the stirrup. When the girl’s feet are glued to the now solid stirrups and her bottom is glued to the blanket…things should be pretty strong.

A bit of painting with acrylics followed by a satin urethane finish and we’re ready to add the final detail to the girl’s body! Slow but sure…stay with me!

Trick Ridin’

When I carved the female head for my last carving of the cowgirl with the fiddle, I had actually carved a second female head at the same time. I didn’t really have a plan for either of the heads, I just wanted to take on the challenge of carving something other than a male caricature.

So, that left me with a second female head and I enjoyed doing the cowgirl figure so much, I decided to come up with another little scene…and, what I’m picturing is a grown young woman wanna-be-cowgirl practicing her trick riding on an old store front mechanical riding pony! With that, here’s the start to the scene with the little pony well underway.

You all know by now how much I enjoy the artwork of Lynn Doughty, so I collected a few pictures of his caricatures of horses along with some photos of mechanical ponies from the web and came up with a bit of a pattern. As you can see, I went to the trouble of ensuring that the strongest orientation of the grain was along each leg and I used a Forstner bit to fit individual legs and glue them in place. To be clear, the round, flat bottomed bit allowed me to make a perfect semi-circle where the legs with the same semi-circle pattern cut on the bandsaw would fit tightly. Again, just click on the photos, below, to make them bigger for viewing.

After everything dried, I used a Foredom tool with a Typhoon bit to quickly remove the edges and get the rough form of the mechanical pony. Remember, if you do this…be careful…wear leather gloves, a leather apron, heavy sleeves, safety glasses and a dust mask…and work over a vacuum system.

With a bit of carving using mostly a knife but also small gouges, I added the detail that I wanted with the facial features, leg profiles and saddle…and, I only broke one ear off a single time during the whole process!

Then came the mechanical parts with a wooden base that would house the motor ( I didn’t carve a motor!), a baseplate with a coin box and the pylons that make the horse rock back and forth.

Placed all together, it’s starting to look like something…

More to come!

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