It had been a while since I carved an ale bowl, so it was fun to make another recently, in this case an ale duck. I’ve written several posts about ale bowls, including some that go into my carving process, but this one inspired a couple more thoughts about making these things.
The form is complex enough that I still have to think about how it all will come together. For example, it’s difficult to visualize the final curves around the tail in the early stages of roughing. Then I remember not to think of such details until much later in the process; to cross certain bridges when I get to them — whether it’s a new design idea or a version of one I’ve done before. Take care of the overall form before any details; don’t worry about where Broadway is until I’ve found my way to New York.
Once the form is established and 95% of the wood to be removed is already on the shop floor, a whole new phase begins. The wood is dry and the form itself is there, but that last handful of fine chips can make a big difference. Time slows down a bit and I focus on the final flow of the lines and the surface cuts. In his 1945 book How I Make Woodcuts and Wood Engravings, Hans Alexander Mueller expresses working in a “delirium of concentration.” That describes this stage well.
This one was 10 1/2 inches long and 6 1/2 inches wide, in black cherry. Lots of fun. One of several bowls I’ve been working on that are already spoken for, then I’m ready for some freestyling.