Saturday, July 25, 2009

Practicing My Scales

This week I finally got back to the Eisteddfod dragon after being away for a few weeks and then being swamped by all the "wedding season' carving which I should have done before I left!
It was a nice treat to reaquaint myself with my little walnut friend here and to work on getting him ready for the Left Coast Eisteddfod next month.

I've got some work to do on his body and want to define the scales a bit to match the front of the spoon. As with any part of the carving, the sensible thing to do is pencil out the lines and then do a shallow cut with a straight knife to ensure everything is where it should be. Because it is such a sensible thing to do, I used to ignore this phase and plunge straight into the carving. Now, with advancing years and a bit of the wisdom that years of mistake making brings, I always do my drawing before I start hacking.

Here I'm using a very short straight knife to clear away the bulk of the scale. As you'll note, I am cutting toward myself which is yet another not-very-sensible thing to do. I am, in my defence, restraining the cut considerably and only taking a very small shaving. This limits the sweep of the cut and the force I need to make it...the idea is to stop the knife from being able to reach the left most of the time!

Here's a picture showing the shaping of the scales. As I proceed up the length of the dragon's body, the repetition of the scale form will make the body look much more vibrant and lively. The trick at this point is not to make a mistake and whack a chunk off the high sections of the scale. I also want to remember to shape the roundness of the chest as I am working my way along.

Nothing works better for putting a very gentle curve into the scales than the bent knife. With the two sided blade, I can cut in two directions without moving the piece and can easily alter the radius of the curve. Curiously, the bent knife never gets the credit it deserves except among NW coastal artists who keenly understand its great value and abilities. I know I would be lost without mine!!

Well, there he is, almost done! Just some work to do on the head and another eye to inlay next week and we're almost there!

Speaking of almost there, so is the Left Coast Eisteddfod!! With only a month to go until the big days (2 of 'em!) things are getting exciting. If you haven't donated to the cause, please consider a donation today. Every dollar you donate equals one chance to win this lovespoon!!

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  1. David:

    He's certainly looking good!

    I've been playing with knives for (literally) a half century. I've cut myself more times than I can count, but never when I was deliberately cutting toward myself. I can truly say that the only times I have cut myself were (a) when I wasn't paying attention or was in a hurry (same thing), and (b) when I was trying to force the knife. Taking thin shavings requires patience but usually keeps the blood where it belongs: inside your skin.


  2. Thanks Bob

    Ever since I got smart and realized that three shallow cuts give a better result than one ferocious cut, I have enjoyed better carvings and hardly any cuts. Attention, patience and self-control....I guess we DO have to get older to figure that out!!