I hope you had a chance to visit the “Art of the Carver” art show on Saturday. What a great experience! It was held in a very large facility, Heritage Park in Chilliwack, BC, as it needed to house approximately 400 visitors as well as enough tables to hold hundreds of wood and stone carvings. There were about 20 vendors (by my count) selling everything from wood carving tools to books and magazines, to carvings, and even jewelry. The fine folks from Raptor’s Ridge were there with live birds: a Harris hawk and a Kestrel – my favourite bird.
There were 4 long rows of tables displaying carvings. Each row displayed a level of carvings: novice, intermediate, advanced, and expert.
This was only the second time I’ve put a carving in a show. The first time was two years ago but the venue was much smaller. Clearly, woodcarving is taking off, based on the numbers of carvers and attendees.
I was a little unsure about how my carving would be judged this year, and I really wanted to improve, so I volunteered to follow the three judges around and record the results. I figured there would be some discussion about what makes a good carving, and I wanted to glean some tips and ideas. The three judges were Dennis Moor of Chipping Away, Betty Sager of Captured in Wood, and Rick den Braber, three very experienced and professional carvers I admire. The picture above and below this paragraph shows some of their work.
I learned quite a bit from following them around. First, these judges didn’t like a glossy finish on a carving. Several carvings that were close in quality lost places by having a high-gloss finish. They said it distracts the eye from the quality of carving. It also shows flaws rather more than is desirable. Second, they definitely lean towards larger carvings that have “a sense of presence” with an artistic flair. If it was supposed to have humour, the one that made them laugh won. If it was supposed to be technically correct, it had better be correct. For example, realistic bird carvings were critiqued very closely for eye-placement, beak/bill placement and angle, and the colour and skill of painting was also important. Size of feet, shape of body – basically everything was critiqued very closely. One other thing that I expected but is worth mentioning because the judges noticed also: slips and cuts from gouges and knives are quickly discerned by the judges and lose marks. By this I mean that if your gouge slips and stabs the wood or you make a stop-cut too far and there’s an extra long cut in the wood, that’s a no-no. Otherwise, the general shape, balance, and overall skill shown were also significant factors.
I don’t mean to make the judges sound overly critical, but obviously they had to judge the carvings. However, I was heartened to hear them make a lot of encouraging comments as well. Any carver that asked a question about their carving was answered in great detail and went away encouraged. The spirit of the whole thing was very positive.
And the results? Well, let’s say I was pleased to come away with a blue ribbon. The carving is a surprise commission from a wife to her husband, so you’ll have to wait until he receives it before I post any pictures.
Oh, and if you weren’t there, you really should try and make it next year. I’ll let you know when the next show is.
Now, enjoy some more eye candy 🙂