Back in the early summer, I started carving two fireplace mantels for some local clients. They chose me to carve the mantels for several reasons. I’m local to the area, which is important to them. I carve in the English/European style – that is, with carving gouges, not with power tools or duplicators or lasers. And I have toured their home several times and I understand their vision for what they want done with the place. They have a distinct style of home, which has an Arts & Crafts look, with a hint of Georgian to it.
These mantel pieces are quite detailed, and the clients were quite specific in what they wanted so the project took more time than usual. I met with the clients numerous times to ensure that I was carving what they were looking for. In the end, they were pleased with the pieces.
Here is a large overview of both mantels. The top one is carved in walnut, and the lower one is carved in mahogany.
Here are a few more photos taken from different angles:
It has been a good challenge for my carving skills to do this commission. I’ve quite enjoyed the chance to work on two similar mantels but in different woods. The walnut was much harder wood than the mahogany, but much less brittle. The walnut shaved off in nice curls, whereas the mahogany was much more prone to chipping and splitting. The mahogany was faster to carve the initial shapes, but took much longer to make smooth. Surprisingly, the mahogany was much harder on my carving tools than the walnut. I found I had to sharpen and hone my gouges more often with the mahogany. I like both woods for carving, and they each have their uniqueness and application. For example, I was glad to not have to carve a fruit bowl in walnut – I would probably still be at it!
I have also enjoyed carving for clients who have such a clear vision of what they want and have extremely high standards for quality. They are well-read on the subject, and experienced enough that they can communicate with me about the details. I can’t wait to see these mantels installed, stained and varnished!