Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 20, 2013 Meeting

     Another successful meeting and Jamie pointed out that this is the beginning of the fourth year of the Sin City Woodworkers.  I, along with probably 8-10 others, are what are called Charter Members who were there at the first meeting that Jamie ever organized at a local library.  I have to admit that being a long time resident of Las Vegas since the late 70's I was one of the hopeful but skeptical ones that this group had a chance!  Thanks to Jamie's drive, ambition, and personality we're still going strong.  Last night we had about 25 members show up for our meeting.  Here's a view from the rear of the room of Jamie leading the group.

The Leader of the Pack!
     As far as the business end of the meeting went the announcement is out that our unofficial dues will be officially collected next month.  They're $20.00 for the year and I think you'll agree it's twenty bucks well spent.  You'll always walk away with something you didn't know, or a new acquaintance you made at the monthly meeting.  Dues go for internet fees and end of the year Christmas party and gift certificates.  During our show and tell session the question came up about how to market and sell some of the items we make.  Mostly we'd like to at least cover our supplies and tools; wood addiction is my term for that!  There is a website by the name of Etsy, here is a LINK to their website.  This is a really cool site that features handmade items from around the world.  I prefer to use this for gifts whenever possible because they're unique, one of a kind, and created by craftsmen and women just like us.  It's like buying local on a larger scale.  Here is a LINK to Jamie's Etsy Shop and also a LINK to mine as well.  If there are others in the group who have a store on Etsy let me know.  Jamie mentioned the idea of having that be the subject of a future meeting which could be of benefit to many of you.  It's been an experience for me that's mostly positive.
     On to the show and tell segment of the meeting.  Ed brought in the Wenge bowl he showed the parts of at the last meeting.  You may recall that it's part of his "bowl from a board" series and it turned out beautifully.  Unfortunately the bowl spent so much time being passed from one member to the next and admired that we failed to get a picture of it for the blog.
     Ron brought a number of his road construction machinery in for us to enjoy:

Ron's Construction Equipment
There are lots of small parts that move so don't let the small size of these fool you into thinking they're an easy project.  As someone mentioned, these would make for a good collectible item for heavy equipment operators or "wannabe's".
     Kate brought in this piece:

Stone Wood ??
Kate, that's Ron in the Background
She caught a few of us off guard when she called it stone wood!  It's actually a piece of alabaster that was from a larger project she was working on.  If you're not aware of it there is a stone carving workshop here in Las Vegas operated by a very talented carver.  Her name is Sharon Gainsburg and if you have the urge to try your hand at carving stone she offers classes as well as a sample lesson.  Here is a LINK to her website.

The other member to bring in and share his recent work is Persi.  He too is a carver and has shared some of his work before.  This is the piece he brought in to share this time:

Looks Beautiful Doesn't It?

     This particular piece is carved out of Alder which he says is fast becoming his favorite wood to carve in.  It holds details well and is not quite as hard as Maple but neither is it as soft as Basswood.  His second favorite wood is Black Walnut but finding 8/4 can be difficult.  He's been working with thicker stock to begin with so that he can make his details deeper.  The question always seems to come up as to how long did a piece take to make, his reply on this one was about 50 hours including the preliminary drawing and design time.  He uses a combination of power tools for the rough out and then hand chisels, x-acto knife, razor blade, etc. -- what ever it takes to get the job done.  He's going to challenge himself next by doing portraiture which is very exacting.  From my artist wife Diane, I know that's so true.  You can change the branches on a tree and get away with it but move someone's nose 1/4" to the left, add a slight hook, maybe a zit and guess what?  It's a NO SALE!
     Our main presenter this evening was Dennis Patchett who'll be teaching a carving class at the school beginning next week.  Here he is ready to amaze us with the work he is able to do.  One underlying theme I always pick up from Dennis is that he truly loves what his work.  We've talked at various places and it's pretty obvious.  This is the key for all of us as we work towards whatever goal we have -- enjoy the process and time spent with your tools.
Our Resident Carver
    Anyway, a little bit of history on this chest.  It's a late (or very early) Christmas present for his wife and is one he's building after completing a similar one for his daughter-in-law. The obvious details you can see are the turned legs and full dovetailed corners.  Inside of the chest there are three hidden drawers revealed by lifting up a panel -- nice touch!

Three, Dovetailed Secret Drawers
On the front of the chest he carved her name:

And if that wasn't enough, flanked it with these butterflies on either side:

     Another item he brought in was this carved shell of Black Walnut on a drawer front.

Carved Walnut Shell
   A very nicely chip carved box of Tiger Oak was another item he shared with us.  Chip carving is an area he will cover in the class and claims it's fairly simple!  According to him, the lay-out is more time consuming than the actual carve.  This may be true once you've truly gotten the hang of it but I've spent some time struggling with it.
"Actually, I just sharpen my finger nail ……."
Here's the complete box:

Tiger Oak with Basswood Top
     You can see what he's talking about, they are "simply" triangles cut into the wood.  This motif began with a circle that was divided into 12 parts.  Cuts are made about an eighth of an inch deep with the difficult part of making them meet precisely at the center.  Holding the knife is a learned technique, one he demonstrates here on a row of triangles.  Notice the work to the right, that too is basically triangles arranged in a different way.

Knife Technique
    One thing true about chip carving is that it takes very little money to get into it.  Chip knives can be purchased for less than $30.00 or so and I think you can get started with just one style.
     One other carving Dennis showed and I'll admit I fell in love with is this flower:

My Personal Favorite
     As you may expect, this brought many comments.  It's actually only about 1/2" deep.  It's the way he layered the petals and flower pieces that gives the illusion of much greater depth.  The contrast between the gouged out background with the smoothness of the flower and leaf give this piece lots of appeal.  It will be a class project, one I'm anxiously looking forward to.
     To sum up some of the comments and information regarding his carving skills, Dennis says he probably spends three hours of study time to determine where all of the planes of the piece will fall to every hour of actual carving time.  In an earlier conversation with him he mentioned that he'll go out in nature and just observe how flowers unfold, how leaves lay and curl, or how the bark on a tree winds its way around the trunk.  The magic comes in when you can control your hands and tools to bring what's in your minds eye out to that three dimensional piece of wood ---- something Dennis has mastered quite well.
     All due respect folks, but I'm now officially tired; time to join my Ali and take a nap!

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