Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saw Dogs, its about time!!!

Have you seen the new "Saw Dogs"?

It is a show about a group of carvers. These guys all work on projects together, and they use large scale saws to do a lot of the work. I wonder if you can pick out each of their unique styles in the pieces that they work on together? You know, like "ah yes, so and so must have done the body, while so and so did the head? They sure well work well together, and their is a Kramer character too!

It is about time they did a show about carving, and now I have a lot of catching up to do!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Using stamps to sign your works.

You will see images for various products that I actualy use, for all of my carvings. I only place links to products that I believe in, and each sale helps me to pay for my supplies and posting. Thanks for using my links before you make an Amazon purchase! Every sale counts!

Since I posted recently about the importance of signing your works, I thought that I had better smarten up and sign some of mine.

There is a small problem though, the carvings are finished.

 Well, were finished! I had ordered a stamp from this online company, and received it after I had completed my most current carving. Not to mention the many that have been done for some time.

 Yes, they were stained and sealed with Tung oil, and put on a shelf. I thought I would detail just how I went from a finished, unsigned piece, to a finished, and sighed piece.

As you can see, there are a few new scratches on the bottom of this unsigned carving. That is just fine, since I need to remove the entire finish in order to "stamp" it. I will need to remove the Tung oil and the stain as well.


 Well, the idea is that I want the stain to "sit" in the marks left by the stamp. This should make the stamp stand out against the rest of the end grain. If I simply just Stamped this now, it would not look as nice, or stand out as much.

 So, I found some 3M Pro-Pak 120C-Grit 120 grit and 150 grit sandpaper and a flat stick of scrap wood. I like to wrap a flat surface with sandpaper just to ensure that I dont "sand" grooves in the flat bottom. This also makes for an even sanding across the entire surface.

O.K. Back to the natural wood. Now is the time to think about just where the stamp will go. I like the center, so that is where it will go. To stamp it, I laid the carving on a chair pillow, held the stamp to the bottom, and struck it with a hammer. Sounds simple, but this step had me sweating.
Why? I had never done this before, and you only get "one shot" at it. You can't hit the stamp more than once, or else you will have a duplicate. Lining the stamp up with another attempt would be just about impossible. So, I put the stamp where I wanted it, put my knee on the carving as to hold it in place, and then "sent it home" with a moderate hit.

This is the result of my "single smack down". I am well pleased. My initials are SKR, and the stamp is just that. The "S" is the Ying/Yang design in the center. Infinity Stamps hit it out of the park. This is not a commercial for Infinity Stamps, but if you are signing your work for all of time, why not go with the best that you can get? The price of a custom stamp is less than the proceeds from just one carving, so why not?
If you are following along with one of your carvings, and you are at this step, your carving has just gone up in value! Even though it is unfinished, the carver has signed his work and it is now traceable. May your name live on!

Next up, getting your stamp mark to jump out at the on looker. If you stain your carving, use a paintbrush. Stain does not bubble, like most tung oil coatings do, so a brush will work just fine. Bubbles in your sealer, or Tung oil, will dry and cause headaches with the finish. Add your stain with a brush, and wipe it off as you would naturally. Do not try to "soak" the stain out of the stamp. You will want the indents to be much darker than the rest. Be careful, though, as the stain might "run out" of the stamp as you let it dry. Keep it as level as possible so this does not ruin the stain process.

As you can see in the image above, the stain has been added, and it has dried. From this point on, finish the carving just as you would any other. Do not worry about adding Tung oil any differently than you would on a flat surface.

 Don't worry about getting the oil to "fill in" the dents from the stamp either, as you want it to stand out. After all, you have put all of this work into adding a stamp, or "your mark" to this carving, why make it hard to notice, right?

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The highs and lows of sculpting stone.

Hi everyone, todays post is just some information that I read way too late in the game. It will hopefully help you avoid a mistake that I learned all too late. This post deals with starting out sculpting stone, and the right stone to try first. This is about avoiding soapstone as a medium. I have links to products that I use with stone, just to help pay for my carving and blog posts. Thanks if you decide to help out, and click on an image to make your next Amazon purchase!

I decided to try out sculpting in stone. I had a little knowledge with sculpting soapstone, but not a lot. I had seen it worked in the past, and all that I knew for sure that it was easily formed. So, I assembled some files and rasps, got a chunk of soapstone, and got to work.

It was only when the piece was mostly formed that I came across an interesting article. This article related that the dust formed as you file and sand away soapstone is rather hazardous to even be near. This dust is like talc powder, and is very bad to breathe in. Even with a dust mask, it should be avoided. But that was not the end of the bad news.

Soapstone is not all bad news. Working with soapstone can be rewarding, due to the speed at which it can be filed away. Why in no time at all I had the basic "rough form" done. This fast carve, however, is the problem too. This stone will crack, crumble, and chip off rather easily! Soapstone is not a good stone to start with, what-so-ever! What is even worse, soapstone does not hold detail very well, as it is so "crumbly".

Well, what types of stone are supposed to start our stone sculpting journey with? Soapstone is not very good at all, and marble is so darn hard.

I recommend starting out with Alabaster. Alabaster is a harder stone than soapstone, but not too hard to work with. It is just above soapstone in terms of "speed of working", and alabaster holds detail way better than soapstone does. Alabaster comes in many colors too, and even a semi-clear, or transparant color can be found. I knew that alabaster was a much better choice from the moment that I picked up the first piece of it. It just felt like a better quality of stone.

 am not too sure that I will ever finish the soapstone whale that is now just half way finished. I sigh each time that I see it, as I do with each unfinished piece that I have. The fact that brand new cracks often appear in the soapstone does not make me want to finish it. Who knows?

I wish I had known enough to stay away from soapstone when I started out, but I learn the hard way sometimes. I hope that you get to read this before you decide to jump into stone carving, and you get a chunk of alabaster, instead of soapstone.