Wood is much easier to carve when it’s green, and you can get right to work with a large blank of fresh uncracked wood straight from the tree. Then you can let the bowl dry, stress and crack free, before making the final cuts. But if you lack green wood, or you just have a nice piece of dry wood that you want to carve, go for it. For example, the shape of bowls that Elia and I made from green wood in our video lessons, could also be made from, say, a 4″ x 8″ x 16″ block of dried basswood.
In this case, I had a deadline approaching for a small bowl, so I decided to work with a block of black walnut that I had set aside to dry in 2013. I had made some bowls from this tree back then, but I also squared up some pieces maybe 6″ x 8″ x 12″ and painted the ends, then stuck them up on a shelf in our shed. Nine years later, I pulled a chunk down and cut it in half lengthwise. Pretty short, but long enough, since the exhibition specifies that the piece has to fit within a theoretical 6″ x 6″ x 6″ cube. (I cut it close — the finished piece is 5 15/16″ long.)
I had been drawing some full-size ideas in my sketchbook, from various perspectives. Based on that, I took a white pencil and sketched a rough plan on the end grain of the block. Notice that my vertical center line is oriented in respect to the pattern of the growth rings rather than the flat surfaces of the timber. This sketch allowed me to make sure the piece would fit within the timber and gave me a basic idea of what wood could be split away.
I took a bunch of photos of the rest of the process on this bowl, so I organized it into three slideshows covering hollowing, exterior carving, and side panel carving, respectively. I don’t think these slideshows and captions will be visible in your email browser, so you’ll have to view them at my site. In several of the shots, you’ll see a vise that I discussed in a previous post. Here’s the first slideshow:
This mallet work draws a crowd. We picked up Meeko the cat at our local shelter a few months ago, and he and Chip have become good buddies and playmates. They both enjoy the grooming of Chip’s face and spending time in the shop.
And all three of us are fans of Nancy Hiller’s book “Shop Tails”. Meeko will have to read later; time to carve the outside:
Exterior Carving Slideshow:
Side Panel Carving Slideshow:
By the way: this bowl will be at the AAW Gallery of Wood Art in Saint Paul from March 27 to May 29. Then it, along with a bunch of other pieces from other folks, will be available through an auction at the AAW Symposium in Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 25. I have very little experience with this sort of thing, but they tell me there will be a preview for some days before the auction and the auction itself will be a hybrid live online/in-person event. I’ll make sure to post an update through the blog once more details are available.