Monday, October 26, 2015

October 2015 Meeting: Woodcarving

And so it begins ---- on Wednesday the 21st., we had about 23 members attend our monthly meeting:
Waiting for the Start
As you can see, the featured presentation has to do with carving so there were all kinds of little caricatures looking back at us.  Jamie wasn't too crazy about some of "the eyes" staring at the audience while Randy gave his presentation!  As is customary, we began with the round robin introductions and it seems as if we had a low key response tonight, even a number of folks sneaking in after the meeting began; were they hoping to be anonymous today?  During the introductions Ed brought up (subtly of course) the fact that he was the national winner at the AWFS show and is now the proud owner of a SawStop --- what luck he had to be selected.  Congratulations Ed!!  Jamie mentioned that voicing problems about certain manufacturers booths and their lack of customer service brought results.  If you went to the show you too probably encountered some booths that were friendly and eager to share their information with you and then some others that seemed to care less.  One of those, SuperMax; was mentioned by Jamie in her blog and she was contacted by the president of the company to apologize.  Good for them!  One other item of business was the Lie-Nielsen tool event held at WoodItIs.  According to Jamie, the turn out seemed to be better than last year but she wondered if the revenue may have been less.  Several members mentioned that the addition of a booth manned by Dennis and Scott demonstrating their carving skills was a great success and addition to the event.

Show & Tell

The theme of our meeting was caricature carving. Neal brought in some of his relief carving examples to share for contrast.  As you can see, he also paints them for more contrast --- seems pretty relaxed and laid back tonight.  Carving is a pretty relaxing endeavor isn't it Neal?

Purple Heart & Myrtle wood Tie

The Worthen family brought in items to share as well.  The entire family obviously spends time in the shop creating various items out of wood.  Starting with the Dad, Billy who brought in some lathe turned bracelets and a wooden tie!  The bracelets are Myrtle wood and Olive wood.  This tie (modeled by our very own Jim C.) is made from Purpleheart and Myrtle wood.
His son Will is also active in the workshop and brought in this very intricate, scroll saw cut jig saw puzzle.  You can see the skill needed to cut those intricate pieces so flawlessly.  Not to be left out was Heather, the Mom.  She practices the craft of pyrography which utilizes a wood burning pen to "burn" an image onto the wood.  She further enhances the burning process with water colors.  Many of her pieces originate from her own photographs.  If you're unfamiliar with this craft, here is a LINK showing what a basic wood burning pen looks like.  Heather explained it's by using different tips and adjusting the heat settings that she's able to come up with these beautiful creations.

Our final show and tell for the evening was brought in by Adam.  Since it is a rather large bar he showed it to us on his phone.  He works for a convention company that builds displays and obviously this was for a liquor convention.  Adam said he learned a lot of different aspects on the project including how to work with various laminates and aluminum edging.  After the meeting he, Jamie, and myself were talking about having a way to share projects our members have made using a Pico Projector.  Now, you know me -- hand cut joints, hand planed surfaces, etc. so this new fangled electronic stuff is somewhat of a mystery!  Here's a LINK explaining the basics of a Pico Projector.  Jamie thought it may be something we'd want to invest some of the club funds in so our members could share projects that are too big to bring to the meetings.  Think about that, I'm guessing it may come up as an item for our next meeting.

Featured Presentation

Randy Glau -- Carving Presentation
Randy began his carving career on a serious level after retiring from 30 years in the steel mill.  Obviously, wood is going to work much easier than steel to create all of the caricatures he's created in the 10 years since retirement!  He started out with a book and a knife by copying what he saw on the pages of that book until his first block of wood looked like something totally different.  He found this to be a enjoyable and challenging endeavor and soon found a local woodcarving club where his skills and abilities continued to increase to the excellent body of work he brought to the meeting.  His preference is to add a bit of color to his carvings, a process that begins with a light coat of Deft to partially seal the wood.  He then uses a craft grade of acrylic paint that has been thinned quite a bit,  this allows the wood grain to show through and the final results are a carving that has an aged appearance to it.  
Cypress Knee
He generally uses basswood for his work but showed examples of other materials he's worked with including this Cyprus knee.  He mentioned carving one of these that happened to have eight "things" sticking up.  He turned that into Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- I've seen that piece and it's a show stopper!

Knowing Randy personally I'll share something I learned about him -- he always has a piece of wood and a knife handy no matter where he goes.  You'll even find wood chips inside of his car!  When he goes shopping with his wife he doesn't mind at all if she takes her time selecting what she needs, he just pulls out a knife and goes to work.  He mentioned a multi-bladed knife made by Flexcut called the Carvin' Jack.  There are many places to buy these, including locally at Woodworkers Emporium.  Here is a LINK from Amazon showing various models but let me encourage you to buy local if possible.

Some of Randy's Tools
Like all woodworking pursuits, tools are a requirement.  According to Randy, you can get by with just a fairly basic knife but it's best to buy a quality one so it'll work the wood and not frustrate you --- cheaply made tools are no bargain!  As you progress with woodcarving you'll probably fine yourself buying tools as needed to get the results you want.  A trick he shared was one he learned from his carving mentor back in Chicago.  He discovered that many old kitchen knives have excellent steel and can be re-purposed for carving.  You could find those at garage sales and customize them for your needs.  
Stella says: "where's the dog proportion chart?"

Even though the caricatures tend to be a somewhat comical representation of people, the proportions need to be correct.  To help you with that you can find charts that size the human body according to head. Randy brought in a couple of them and I imagine they're available on line and art supply stores.  When it comes to actually carving the wood there are probably as many approaches as there are carvers but Randy gave us a couple of insights as to his process.  First of all, he suggested that if the carving has a hat, do that first and then scale everything else below it to "fit under the hat".  You should always cut away from yourself as you carve and hold the knife in such a way that you are creating a fulcrum point to pivot the tool rather than wildly pushing it away as you carve.  It's always a necessity to re-draw your design while you're working on it.  Very easy to lose sight of what you hope to carve because you continually cut away the design during the process.

When it comes to tools and keeping them sharp there are probably as many variations as there are people who use them!  Randy shared some of his techniques with us on his approach to tool care, use, and sharpening.  He suggests stropping your tool after every 15 minutes or so of use to maintain the edge.  In this way, you rarely need to sharpen that tool unless you drop it of course!  Here's a LINK to a short video showing his stropping technique using a honing powder.

Randy and Dennis started a woodcarving club that meets the fourth Saturday of every month at Woodworkers Emporium.  Here is a LINK to their latest newsletter.  Randy brought in these examples of carving Cottonwood bark houses which was an activity for last Saturday's meeting (10/24).  Members that attended were 3 of the Worthen family, Neal, plus my wife and I.  For $5.00 we all had a good lesson and start on making our own Gnome Home!  There is another class scheduled for next year dealing with chip carving.  That person has a bunch of Basswood boxes and will demonstrate and teach how to go about carving those.  If you're interest was piqued by Randy's excellent presentation, mark your calendar and plan to spend a Saturday seeing more of what carvings all about.  Woodcarvers of Las Vegas meets from 9-12 on the 4th. Saturday of each month.  I'll leave you with some images of the houses and chip carving.
Cottonwood Bark House

Houses done by Bob Pearce

Chip Carved Box Lids

And at the end of the meeting, Randy grabbed his hat (wooden!) and headed out the door.

And at the 

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