Tag Archives: balsa wood

Nothing Goes to Waste

22 Jun

Carving was in full swing two weeks ago. I created a record of sorts when on that Saturday, I carved up seven Citizens of Gigglesville in one seating. Yes, seven! Quite a feat I must say.

And when the tail end of the foot long balsa has an odd height to be a Citizen, it didn’t go to waste because a Gnome was carved out of it.

So after a couple of giant Gnomes, Gnome 13 stands the shortest among the lot. A cute little chappy.


A Sudden Burst

8 Jun

I have forgotten what it is like to carve balsa having worked on Meranti so much last month. Last night I pushed myself to go back to my Citizens on balsa instead of Meranti Gnomes. And my goodness! It’s so effortless.

So much so, the sudden burst resulted in four new Citizens – one in the morning before going to work and three in the evening after dinner. Yay. Maybe I should stop the Gnomes series for the time being and just focus on Citizens of Gigglesville. After all, their population count remained stagnant at 132 since Apr 24th.

Honestly, working with Meranti wood has aggravated the tennis elbow again. Not a good sign especially if I want to go back to playing golf. I shouldn’t allow this to flare up and if I want to also continue carving I should stick to balsa, a much softer wood. This may be the best balance to have the best of both activities.


Unfinished and ugly for now but that’s the process

Bigger and Bigger, Part 2

21 May

The carving seems to have taken a toll on me. Lately with all these bigger pieces that I am working on with Meranti wood which is harder than balsa, I could feel a slight pain especially on the right elbow when I exert some strength. The tennis elbow problem! And this is evident when I try to play golf. Sigh…

When an injury hits, one never truly recovers. The body is weakened, the game suffers and the confidence drops, a vicious cycle. Add in the lack of playing because of my other problems (the Infectious Colitis and the laparoscopic surgery recently), I simply have not had much opportunity to go onto the fairways.

I need to find the right balance to carve and play golf without one activity suffering at the expense of the other.

Ten Little Gnomes

7 May

The Gnomes of Gnomie-wood are taking over my life! Citizens of Gigglesville took a back seat last month as I found myself carving up Gnomes instead. With so much Meranti wood at my disposal, I was glueing pieces to make big blocks to carve into giant Gnomes.

And each one gets bigger than the previous. With the latest Gnome 10, standing at 5.5 inches tall, I now have 10 Gnomes in Gnomie-wood! But Gnome 10 is not the tallest; it comes in second. Gnome 9, a two-piece Meranti stands the tallest at 7 inches, while Gnome 2, carved from balsa, is the smallest and shortest among the lot at 43mm tall.

It’s been so addictive and fun. More Gnomes to come is all I can say!


Family group shot


Gnome 10 before the paint job


The beginning of Gnome 10

Replenishing the Supplies

20 Apr

The carving is in full swing! And the supplies need to be replenished. I was able to get these items last week during the slow work week to add to my stock – new gesso, gloss varnish, new colors and of course more balsa which I still need for the regular sized Citizens! I thought it would be a change to try several different brands of supplies from my usual.

And I think it’s exciting to see what comes out from the new colors especially the solid bronze. Stay tuned.


And So It Continues

16 Apr

Three weeks ago (before the laparoscopic surgery) on a hot Sunday morning, the carving began. This latest Monument is different from the earlier pieces in many ways, the most obvious being the choice of wood – Meranti versus balsa. Then it’s the characters on the totem pole.

Previous pieces have different species of Citizens stacked up. This piece has only one species, looking the same yet different in their expressions. And it wasn’t easy to execute because being a denser wood, it was quite a challenge to shape the smaller area of curves and crevices. Definitely different from shaping a single big Citizen.

Patience is the key I guess. And at the height of this excitement, I overlooked having a platform like the others for this new piece. Oh well. Every piece is unique in its own way.


A New Species

16 Mar

Suddenly, the balsa and the little Citizens of Gigglesville are forgotten with so much focus on the Meranti wood and Gnomes.

Feeling guilty, I decided to go back to the balsa. And you know what? I found myself unable to hold it properly. It’s so tiny! How did I ever managed to carve up a village of Citizens, Superheroes and all?

Working with the harder Meranti, my carving strength is so different. I had to reprogram myself to dealing with the soft balsa again. It wasn’t quick work as it used to be but I managed and after its completion, I jumped back to the Meranti.

Even though the big block is glued (two big pieces and two smaller pieces), it’s easier to shape and a new species came long. I think this has potential to be little Citizens. We shall see…


Box of Happiness, Part 3

8 Mar

After the completion of the Giant Gnome, I began experimenting with the new Meranti wood. And I find its density to be in between the balsa and basswood that I have been working with all this time. It is rather nice and different.

The balsa, despite being too soft and porous, and sometimes comes off easily in chunks if I apply a little bit more strength, has its plus points I must say. After all there wouldn’t be 128 Citizens of Gigglesville, a handful of Superheroes, Gnomes and Monuments to show.

As for the basswood, it is rather hard and needs more effort to carve and shape. So far, I have only three finished pieces with this wood type: Halloween Owl, Dinky the Dinosaur and Giant Gnome.

Now the Meranti wood is something else. Soft yet not too soft, and hard but not so, it is rather easy to work with. Within one hot Sunday afternoon at home, I carved up two familiar characters but with slight variations. A Citizen perched on a tree and a Gnome with a super tall cap. The only thing with this wood is the depth. The width is fine but lacking depth, so the two finished pieces have rather flat heads. That’s why it’s an experiment.

Next project in the pipeline is glueing two Meranti pieces together to give it depth and let’s see how this will turn out! Another Gnome in the making before I plan what new species or character to come out with. With the workbench in place, I don’t mind a drop in my social life as I stay at home nightly to work on my carvings.

Another Towering Giant

5 Mar

It took me awhile to figure out what should I carve out of the four inch basswood block and finally I decided it should be a Gnome, a Giant Gnome. I felt that to do a Citizen, on this big scale, it would be a ‘waste’ as most of the wood would be shaved off to shape a Citizen.

Citizens generally are shorter, averaging about 26mm, compared to a Gnome that is about 50mm except for Gnome 2 who is 43mm. The Gnome’s height especially the cap is determined by how much balsa wood is left without wasting any of the wood upon carving.

If I had a 50mm piece left, it is better to carve a Gnome than to carve two 25mm Citizens because it’s just too short and hard to hold. So in essence, Gnomes came about because I did not want to waste my precious balsa wood.

This chunky short adorable fella definitely stands out from the other three Gnomes.

And Gnomes will also grow in numbers like the Citizens of Gigglesville. Maybe they should have their own hamlet. Gnomesville? Hmm…

No News is Good News

29 Jan

News headlines generally suck, world news suck and local news are no different. It is as though there are no positive news to update humanity. So it is better not to read the news than to learn what is going on around us to keep sane.

For this reason, I like to stay in my little bubble, away from all the shenanigans of the world for as long as I can manage.

So I carve. And I carve and carve.

After Monument 5 came about to kickstart the carving mood, everything fell into place. Within a few days, Monument 6, six Citizens and another Gnome were added to the population count of Gigglesville. No news is good news if this is the result.