Carved Bread Plate

What I enjoy most about wood carving are the never-ending challenges. First comes the challenge of a good design. I hope to design carvings that are pleasing to the eye and create the impression of wholeness. Second comes the challenge of the material. Wood is always unique. There are no two pieces of wood that are the same. Different types of wood create different effects and allow or limit the carver’s options. For example soft woods are difficult to carve intricate detail into because the grain can crush or simply not be strong enough to hold up under the carver’s gouge. Hard woods, on the other hand, can take any amount of detail, but take much longer to carve. Also, different types of wood have colour and grain uniquenesses, and knowing how these work with or against the design is important. Third comes the challenge of executing the design in a special piece of wood and bringing all the elements of skill, design, and material to form a piece of art.

I am particularly fond of this bread plate:

Carved Bread Plate

About the carving:

This is a bread plate that is 18″ in diameter and 1″ thick. It’s carved in Cherry wood which naturally oxidizes and turns the rich reddish/brown that you see here. It’s finished in a food safe oil and beeswax blend. The phrase is taken from the famous “Lord’s Prayer” passage in the Bible (Matthew chapter 6, verse 11).

Carving letters around a circle is more difficult than I first imagined. I hadn’t realized that the outside of the circle would be longer than the inside. Stretch a string around the inside of circle below the letters and then again around the outside of the rim of the plate, and you’ll find aproximately one and a half inches difference in length. The design of the letters and the spacing of the top of the letters and the bottom of the letters all has to take that into account. I ended up using a compass and protractor, drawing rays from the centre out to where I thought each letter should be. I spent many hours figuring out the spacing and drawing each letter to fit the spacing, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The symbol at the top of the plate is a stylized stalk of wheat. I designed and carved this while we lived in Saskatchewan. Our house overlooked a wheat field, literally a few steps behind our house, which was a daily reminder that we lived in the Bread Basket of Canada. I jogged past amber waves of grain daily in the summer and early fall and often thought about how I might incorporate some of that beauty into my carvings.

This one is in a private collection, as are 5 of 6 others carved in oak, walnut and maple and I can carve you one of your own for $150. Other phrases are also possible too! Send me an email at gvmcmillan@gmail.com to commission your own.

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Over the Fireplace

Are you looking for a very cool, one of a kind gift for someone you care about? Here’s a story of some very good friends who were moving to a new city and the gift I was commissioned to create.

Our friends had been long-term members of the community, and had made many close friends. The lady of the house had fallen in love with a children’s story book that had a painting of a room with a fireplace mantel. The mantel had a phrase in German carved into it which said, “Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott”. These are the starting words of the famous German hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

The best part about the story is that another friend overheard her say, “I wish I could have a mantel someday with that carved into it.” That friend talked with a bunch of other friends, and they all decided they would commission me to carve it for her. The trouble was, she and her family were moving and most people don’t take their fireplace mantels with them when they move. So, some creativity was needed to come up with something that would work. I chose a piece of oak, 1 inch thick by 6 inches high and approximately 36 inches long. I carved the letters into it, taking care to match the lettering in the painting. Then I rigged a hanging system on the back, so they could take it anywhere and hang it where it suited best.

Eine Feste Mantel Piece

About the carving:

The wood is oak, 1x6x36 inches. It is stained in medium oak Danish Oil stain and sprayed with lacquer. It is in a personal collection, hanging over a fireplace, and not for sale. Contact me if you have an idea. I’ll work with you to come up with a piece that suits your style and wishes.