Sunday, December 7, 2008

Making Time to Carve

Most of us may dream of carving for a living, but if you are like most of us you don't! In fact, many of you are so busy, that you may wonder when you have the time to try carving anyway. Today I hope to give you some helpful advice on this subject. The picture with this post are of some golf balls that I carved the other day. When did I have time? Easy...I had to get two of my vehicles inspected! With our strict emissions testing I knew I would have at least an hour of time to kill. So I grabbed the car keys, and the golf balls, and I headed out. While waiting to find out if my vehicle passed or failed, I sat on the outside bench and carved these little faces. Nothing flashy, just fun! I painted them later tha night. I won't get into how to carve golf balls yet since I have only done it this once, and someone who has only done it once is by no means an expert. The point is, that if you want to carve badly enough you have to be thinking about every spare minute you have. Get your wood ready, and keep your pocket knife handy. You never know when the time will appear! Happy carving!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are You A Woodcarver?

When I first began to try my hand at woodcarving, I have to admit, I was hooked. Over the past couple of years however, I have begun to see a change in how I view myself. I remember showing one of my carvings to a new aquaintence and having them reply, "I didn't know you were a woodcarver!". The truth is, I didn't know it myself. Then I started asking myself if I was a "woodcarver" or just somebody who piddles around with wood as a hobby. Was there a difference? I mean, I had never put "woodcarver" on any of my job resumes! Just what is a woodcarver? When would I be one, and would I know it if I was? I have since come up with my own opinion about what a woodcarver is. Here goes.

I believe that a woodcarver is someone with a love of wood, and creating things with their hands. This person does not carve simply from boredom, or the need to have a cheap gift. They carve because they love it. They think about it all the time. They are always on the lookout for ideas. They strive to better themselves. They love a challenge and given enough time will never back away from a carving challenge that is outside of their comfort zone. They share a love for all types of carvings, whether caricature, stick, whittling, chip, etc.... They love it all. They may do it for a living, or to enhance their life. Most importantly I believe that a woodcarver will have a love for each piece they create. Whether they carve it for a gift, or sale, or just to have it, they will develop an attachment to it that will make parting with it difficult. This love affair with carving will be carried with them for the rest of their life.

Are you a woodcarver?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Can You Afford to Carve?

I guess every new carver falls into the trap of thinking they have to have "all" the right tools and just the right wood or they can't be a carver. I was that way myself. I have since found out that carving is not really about the tools. This post is to illustrate my point. The pictures above are of a softball. That's right, I said softball. I was walking in the park this morning and I came across an softball that had been knocked out of the park. I guess the reason it had not been retrieved was because the hide had been torn by the last batter. You can't use it to play with anymore so I guess they just left it. Then I come along. A fledgling carver with not much money to buy wood. Add to that, the fact that I had just watched Gene Messer's YouTube videos on carving a golf ball. other than size there are alot of similarities between a golf ball and a soft ball. They both have a cover, and a soft core. So out came my trusty "Case" pocket knife and in about 30 minutes this guy was looking back at me. The rest is history and imagination!

Carving a softball is fun because it is made of hard "foam" which carves very easily. You still need to have a sharp knife however, because if you aren't careful the foam will tear instead of carve. It is a bit larger than a golf ball which makes it easier for some.

Painting is another subject. Since it is foam you must be careful not to put too much paint on at one time or it will soak up into places where you don't want the color to be. Be careful about how much you thin your paints. Having done this one, I think I would try to "seal" the foam before painting another one. Might help control the paint more.

The point is, I didn't go to the park looking for carving inspiration or material. But a carver always has carving on his/her mind. It seems these days I am either carving, or thinking about it. What do you have laying around the house that others would consider trash? Could you carve it? Maybe its not wood. Why should that stop you? GO FOR IT!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where to Get Inspiration?

One of the things people wonder is where to get inspiration for their carvings. Let me encourage you to take inspiration from the people you love the most. One of the things that has helped me as a carver, is to think about the people I love, and what they would enjoy in a carving. Then I set out to see what I can come up with. I enjoy doing something out of love for someone else. It seems that the carving turns out so much better when it is personalized and infused with thought for someone else. I many ways the carving is a little easier because it flows from your heart to your hands, instead of being just a cold, calculated set of cuts and shaping. Let your carving be an extension of your heart!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You Can Make Your Own Patters

When I first started carving I devoured every issue of carving magazine I could. I tried a number of free patterns and ordered some carving books off the Internet. After carving a few of those I discovered something important. They weren't my carvings! I don't mean they were bad, but there was something missing....that link that every carver has with their carvings. My wife actually put me onto it when she said, "Why don't you draw and carve your own patterns?" At first I thought..."I can't draw!!". Then I decided to give it a try. needless to say the first attempts weren't pretty. However. I did come to one amazing conclusion. I didn't need someone else's ideas to be a carver. So started my journey of doing my own carvings. Something that was "mine". No longer did I need to go searching for a pattern when I wanted to carve something for a family member or friend. I could take inspiration from anywhere! You know what? My patterns still leave something to be desired!! My carvings on the other hand, are getting better, and they are my own, which makes them even better to have around. Just a thought. Even if all you can draw is stick men, give it a try. Sooner or later you are going to have to break free from doing other peoples carvings if you want to really enjoy this rewarding activity! The photos above show my own pattern scribbled on a piece of paper and the carving that resulted.

So Here Goes Nothing

Well, here goes. I thought I would never be doing this! I am a relatively new carver. I consider myself "self taught". However, to say that I have not been influenced by other carvers would be untrue. Only that I have never taken lessons or spent time personally with a veteran woodcarver. My goal with this blog is to create a place where new carvers (of all ages) can come and feel comfortable. We can kick around ideas, share experiences and solve problems together. If you are looking for an expert carver's blog, you have come to the wrong place. This is a place where I hope to help kickstart someones dream of becoming a woodcarver. To that end, I begin this blog.