I often approach carving very cautiously, but recently decided to be more bold. I think I’ve been cautious because I approach carving from a position of scarcity: “there is only one piece of wood like this in the whole world and I could wreck it! Ergo, go slow, Grant. Be careful.”
What does it mean to approach a carving more boldly? Take this carving of dogwood flowers.
I intend that it will start low to the table on one end and rise in the middle before dropping back down at the other end, somewhat like my powerful looking biceps muscles (smirk!). So I started carefully by drawing the flowers and branch on the wood and cutting out the shape on the band saw. The first thing I started carving was the centers of the flowers, followed by the petals of each flower with the intent that I would gradually sculpt down from the surface, lowering each flower centre and each petal until I felt the flowers were at the right height. You can see in the photo that I started carving all the flowers at the same height, that I separated the petals and had begun to lower them slightly. Not too much at a time because, hello scarcity! This is how I carved the last dogwood carving, and it was very safe. But it took me longer to carve than it takes Canada Revenue Agency to complete my tax refund, and I thought there must be a better way! Which is also how I think about paying taxes.
I have long been a fan and subscriber to Chris Pye’s carving training videos, and noticed that he confidently and aggressively removes waste wood before he starts carving details. So I thought I would give it a try. In less than an hour, I had the first flower and stem at the correct depth and roughly carved. All that is left to do is to smooth the petals, undercut the flower to throw a good shadow, and stamp the centre (stamen), which will take another half hour of time.
In short, I’m happy with this new way of thinking and I am happy with the the process and the outcome. As I always say, “Go bold or go home!”
Ok, maybe this is the first time I’ve said that – it must be my bold coffee speaking. Bring on the boldness, in coffee and in carving!