Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the tag “window cleaning”

Friends in High Places

“Friends in High Places” just seemed to be a more fitting name for the carving.  I added a few dog toys for interest and then glued everything together.  I’m still thinking about adding one or two pigeons and a nameplate for sure.

I’m really happy with this carving.


A Bit of Heat

I’m afraid that I’m old enough to remember twisting the valve on the hot water radiator in order to get some heat into my apartment.  Although I could have carved the radiator from memory, I referred to a few pictures before I started.

The radiator started as a rectangular block of basswood.   I scored the block with about 3/16″ deep saw cuts all around just using a handsaw and later I rounded the block on the top and bottom.  This created the various segments to the radiator.


Following that, I rounded the front and back of each individual segment leaving a high point in the centre of each.  With some scrap basswood, I made a couple of legs with claw style feet and glued them in place.  Also with scrap basswood, I carved some pipes with a valve on one of the pipes.  The valve handle is just a couple of washers glued to a brass nail.

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I wanted to make the radiator look like it was made from brass that had tarnished over time, so I mixed a couple of colours… Copper Penny and Burnt Umber…and covered everything except the pipes.  I then took the Copper Penny colour and dry brushed over the whole thing so the the high points would look more brass like and less tarnished.  The pipes were just painted a beige colour with a little rusty brown around the joints.

I had completed a little valence for the window some time ago and painted it up and added some brass nails in the “upholstered” diamond panels.  The two pieces look pretty good together.

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Summer’s Officially Over

Well, the furnace came on this morning so I’d say that summer is over.  But that’s not all bad as it means a return to the workshop on a more consistent basis.

So, this past couple of weeks has seen me back at the painting of Wendell the window-washer.  Here’s how things are looking with the usual acrylic paint “washes” followed by some dry-brushing.  The colours used included linen, asphaltum, raw umber, yellow ochre, flesh tone with a little extra pink and brown added, midnight blue, payne’s grey and light grey.



Carving and Painting the Accessories

I apologize for not keeping you better informed of my progress.  Spring is a busy time around here!

I had some fun in carving the rag that the window cleaner is using.  I should mention that the little fellow has adopted the name of Wendell.  He looks like Mervin from Mervin-the-Mover fame and we suspect that they’re probably brothers.

The cloth rag was carved so that Wendell’s fingers and thumb would be covered somewhat by it.  I did this by etching the hand with artist’s lead and then letting that lead imprint the wood that needed to be removed.


I also sanded smooth the surface of the rag to match where the plane of the window would be.



After adding a number of folds in the cloth and some deeper grooves in the side that would be wiping the window, I painted a gingham cloth pattern that would emphasize the various directions of the cloth and where it would be stretched and crushed.   Finally, I applied a good amount of epoxy on the wiping surface and pressed it up against a piece of glass that I had waxed.  The waxed surface allowed me to break away the cloth from the glass leaving a fairly smooth surface.  Then with a bit of fine sanding ( 600 grit ) and some polishing ( 1200 grit ) I applied urethane to give the epoxy a gloss like it was wet and sudsy against the glass that was being cleaned.  Turned out pretty well, I think.



Next, it was time to tackle the bucket Wendell would hold.  It was pretty straight forward carving the bucket…I added a few “dents” and some raised ribbing along the top, bottom and side seam.  I used some copper to make two small posts for the handle to attach.  The handle was a drilled out piece of basswood and the “ropes” are twined light wire.

It really started looking like an old bucket when I applied adhesive backed aluminum tape.  Once the tape was on and burnished in place, I used a centre punch to make small rivets along the ribbing.


With some epoxy that I intentionally “foamed” by constant stirring, I added a thick layer of “suds” into the shallow depression that I had carved in the top of the bucket.  Once it was cured, I drilled out a hole to place a carved “squeegee.”


Then came the fun part.  I used payne’s grey as a wash over the entire aluminum surface to give it some age, added some yellow ochre, a rusty brown and some raw sienna to make it look worn and dirty.  After I painted Wendell’s logo, I used a razor knife to scratch away some of the paint to make it look like it had chipped and worn over time.  Lots of fun.


More Dogs and Accessories

I’ve added in a few items since my last blog entry.  The first is an old-style hot water radiator.  I thought that might look good perched under the window and add to the 1930’s style that I’m looking to create.  The second item involves more dogs…

I thought that it would be nice to have several dogs with their heads tilted up and to the side watching the antics of the window-washer.  We had a little West Highland Terrier, or Westie, in the past ( named Angus MacGregor ) and I thought that he’d make a nice addition to the scene.

They’re a pretty boxy little dog, so it was fairly straight forward in cutting a shape out on the bandsaw and then roughing it in with a Typhoon bit on a Foredom handpiece.   I used the same method from the last dog by cutting along the neckline and then making and gluing in place a wedge of basswood that tilted the head up and to the side.

Most of the detailing was done with the same small gouge that I used to make the coat of the previous dog, however, I made a few passes with a small v-tool and later with a burning tool as well to create some very fine lines that would make the coat look a bit more wirey…similar to a Westie’s coat.  Westies are white unless you bathe them in tomato juice to remove the scent of a skunk ( a memorable episode with Angus ).


You know, this little dog ended up looking so nice that I thought the last dog looked poor in comparison.  It seemed to me that the head was just too small for a caricature…so, off it came and I glued on another block of wood and started again.  And, then, just to add to the scene, I created a very small chihuahua.  I think that rounds things out for now.




Adding a Watchful Dog

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.

Don’t Let it Tip

As I’ve thought about how I’d go about building the base for the window washer, the thing uppermost in my mind has been how do I ensure that this thing won’t tip over or, at least, be easy to tip over.

A quick trip down to the local lumber mill and a search through their rack of short stock solved the problem.  I brought home a nice thick piece of hickory for the base.  Now, hickory has a number of things going for it…it’s hard, which doesn’t matter all that much to me;  it has a nice grain, which matters as I’m planning on a stain and urethane finish for the base; and, it’s heavy!…which really matters to me.   I don’t think that tipping is going to be a huge problem anymore.

With the bandsaw, I cut a square edge on the exterior side of the base and slightly curved the interior wall side.  With a router, I put a nice edge on the top and bottom of the base and then, again on the bandsaw, cut out a recess where the wall base will eventually be glued in place.

You can see from the pictures that I added a little bit of window framing at the top of the window.  I was actually watching a program on television where there happened to be old apartment buildings in the background and I saw this particular window treatment and liked it.

So, you can click on the pictures below to see how things are looking…




Some Masonry and Carpentry Work

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.

A 1930’s High Rise

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.


A Hat and Some Detail

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!

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