Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 2015 Meeting

Our meeting opened with the customary round robin introductions and there were a number of new faces -- welcome!  I counted about 37 of us in attendance this month which is among our best attended meetings.  After the introductions we went right into the business portion of the meeting.  One important item that came up was that some of our members had difficulty with your orders placed during the recent Lie-Nielsen tool event.  Beth had ordered a number of chisels that were back-ordered.  Only problem is she was never informed about the delay so had been sitting on her front porch (in one of her own chairs I may add!) waiting for the UPS truck -- she ended up canceling the order.  Jamie too had a problem with being billed twice for the same item.  In their defense, L-N told Jamie they had a replacement crew going to Las Vegas that weekend and they weren't properly trained.

Christmas Party 

Our end of the year Christmas party is always a great event.  Many of you bring your spouses or significant others to share in the festivities.  With the money left over from the voluntary dues Jamie buys not only party goodies but also uses cold, hard cash for several drawings that we'll have.  Anyone who paid their dues is eligible for the drawing plus anyone who did a demonstration gets their name in again.  
The main focus will be on the anonymous, people's choice award for the best toy brought in for judging.  There is no limit on the amount or type of wood used for your toy project.  We will send out a notice telling you when to bring in your toy.  Jamie will display all of them during that Christmas meeting for voting.  Once the votes are tallied the winner will be announced.  If you choose to, Mike will take the toys for donation into the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.  He's active in that organization.  Mike also told us about a Poker Tournament that will be held at Santa Fe station, Sunday Dec. 6 at 12:00 noon.  All of the money generated there will go to the Toys for Tots program too, all the donations stay right here in Southern Nevada.

Blog Writer Needed

We are looking for someone to take over my position as the blog writer --- here's your chance to hone your literary skills!  Diane and I will be moving to Scottsdale, AZ at the beginning of the year and will live there for the next 6 months.  She was awarded a scholarship at the Scottsdale Artists School and we decided to take this as an opportunity to celebrate our 20th. anniversary.  Although I think she's a fantastic artist already, you know it will never hurt to improve our skills by learning and observing what others in our field do already.  If you'd like to see some of her work here is a LINK to her gallery site.  I plan on working more on carving and gilding frames; hopefully to find a market there to sell them.  I've enjoyed writing the blog all these years and perhaps it's time to get someone else to step up and put their own spin on it.  Contact Jamie or myself if you're interested. 

Show & Tell

Show and tell began with Randy thanking all of the members who came to the cottonwood bark event that was held during the Woodcarvers of Las Vegas meeting at Woodworkers Emporium.  During his presentation last month he brought up the event, here is a LINK to their blog about it.  The woodcarvers meet every fourth Saturday of the month.  Several members went to the woodcarvers meeting and accomplished making what we started to call "Gnome Homes".
John's with firewood for winter

Wills example

Pam's work

Mom's with paint

One of Will's Puzzles
Will mentioned that he has his own on-line Etsy shop called PuzzlingLife.  Here's a LINK so you can check out his work.

Beth brought in one of a set of chairs she's been working on and, in keeping with her theme; you can see how she laminates various pieces of material for the seat and back.
John showed off this bowl which is currently in the process of drying so it'll "distort" to its final shape.  This was made from the Mesquite that Mike brought to the meeting a month or two ago so is an example of turning green wood.

Keeping with the theme of bowl turning, Lupe decided to "repurpose" a cutting board she'd made previously and turned them to produce these great looking bowls.

Another example of carving was brought in by Persi.  These are parts of a door frame he is currently working on that measures approximately 80" tall by 43" wide.  To be able to handle them in his shop they are made up of sections which will eventually be joined together.

Adam brought in some examples of an antique piece that he needed to cut up for a display at his work.  It was really interesting to see how the joinery was cut exact and held together by dowels.  No pocket screws or biscuits back then!

Show & Tell

Our featured presenter was Mike Cook who brought in his amazing Celtic designed work.   He's really developed a distinctive style of carving --- when you see it you immediately recognize it as his work.  He's only been pursuing this particular style for about 4 years but as you can see, he's perfected it!  To get to the skill level he's achieved Mike has taken classes from Dennis Patchett, enrolled in on-line classes offered by Mary May and Chris Pye, but basically spent many hours in his shop carving away!  
Questions that always come up when we see work of this caliber relate to tools, sharpening, and finishing.  Mike has amassed quite a collection of tools as these pictures show -- and there are even more in his shop!
When you carve it's important to have the proper sized gouge in every sweep possible to achieve the consistent curves and cuts that Mikes' work shows.  To keep them sharp he started with out using stones but they have been supplemented with a buffer fitted with a hard, wool wheel and also a formed leather wheel.  These use a buffing compound/rouge made by Formax and available from Lee Valley. Here's a LINK to a page from them but you can find much of these supplies locally as well.  He also makes a slip from Basswood cut by V-tools.  This is then coated with a compound and becomes the exact size required to hone that particular tool.
His patterns come from a number of sources but one he mentioned was tattoo images from the internet.  He copies them on his phone then goes to Staples where they are able to enlarge them to whatever size he wants.  Patterns are cut using chisels and gouges of various size to match the curvature.  FYI: gouges are sized with two numbers; size is expressed in millimeters and the amount of curvature is called sweep.  These number from 1 (flat) to 12 (almost a U).  He'll annotate his pattern with the chisel number to make his work easier.  A tool he has found to be very helpful in removing some of the small bits and pieces in corners is a Porter Cable 450 compact router fitted with a solid carbide bit.  Getting the background of the carvings perfectly flat is really difficult.  To disguise the discrepancies,  Mike uses punches to texture and even it out.  These brought lots of comments so here is a LINK where you can buy your own set.  Being a Dutchman, I need to point out that you can make your own using mild steel and filing the ends to suit your own needs.

He has developed a beautiful finish for his work.  Just like many other things in our craft, it has been a process of trial and error to find the finish that suits him.  Much of Mike's work is done in Basswood.  It's used because it has uniform grain, holds details well, and is relatively easy to carve, however; it tends to be a nondescript wood.  He gets his finishing materials primarily from Tri-Color Paints on Valley View here in Las Vegas.  Here's a LINK to their website.  Basically, he begins with 2 coats of thin shellac followed by a vinyl sanding sealer.  These are sprayed on.  After that they will be stained and glazed to get the desired finish.  As I mentioned, finishes are the results of trial and error.  Mike uses burgundy scotch pads between finishes and also various brushing techniques to get what he wants.  Finishing is an area many of us struggle with because after all of our hard work to complete the project the finish can totally screw things up!!  Looks like Mike has conquered that as these pictures of his work prove.

Thanks Mike for a great presentation -- I have the feeling that many of our members will be  trying their hand and carving and picking up some chisels soon.

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