Tag Archives: carving

Serious Tools

25 Nov

Two weeks ago, it was the massive Singles’ Day (11/11) online shopping event. And like the rest of the world, I bought stuff on that day too and became part of the stats that made up the USD38.4 billion sales record. What an impressive sales record given the global economic gloom.

But that is not the point here, it’s more of what I bought – specialized whittling knives, a new set of serious tools.

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The set came in a pouch and included a sharpening stone

Totally different (with thicker handles) from what I have currently, these knives are super duper sharp and scary because they are bigger than what I am used to. I foresee from here on, I would be whittling more than carving because these knives have better leverage for precision and better control. And it will be even more rewarding once I can handle them for my future pieces.

For the uninitiated, carving encompasses using chisels, gouges, the mallet and even powered equipment whereas whittling involves only the use of a knife. At times, the terms are interchangeable although both are different arts. But whether whittling or carving which I must say I do both, it has become something I enjoy doing.

A Cut Too Deep, Part 2

22 Nov

My MacGyver skills came in handy when it came to rescuing the Whale with the broken tail. Given a second chance to be completed and not abandoned, it would have a whole tail section transplant instead of an itty-bitty prosthetic!

This was what I did…

After evaluating the damage and the wood surface, an itty bitty prosthetic tail wouldn’t do because that part of the wood was too porous and it certainly won’t stick. It needed more to be permanent and a transplant was a better option to replace the whole section. A little bit more work but I felt better about this direction.

So I worked on another piece for the tail part. Luckily the Meranti piece that I chose wasn’t that hard and it was quite effortless to get the shape right quickly. But after aligning the pieces, my estimates were off! Haish… it didn’t look right and I ended up having to shave off a little bit more of the bottom part on the main body.

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Bottom pics: Before (L) and after (R) trimming the base to fit the new tail section

Eventually, with the tiniest nails I could find, the tail section was attached to the main body. I then added Elmer’s glue and stapled the section to secure it.

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How to add a tail to a whale, with nails, glue and staples

After the glue dried, I started puttying the piece to even out the nooks and crannies and the Whale was starting to look good. Phew! I decided to leave the staples in for peace of mind.

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A saved whale is a happy whale!

When I’m done applying gesso on it, you can’t tell that this fella had surgery in the first place. And once I decide what color it shall be, it will certainly look good when painted. I’m so glad I persevered on this to give it a second lease in life after that unfortunate cut that was too deep. A saved whale is a happy whale, and a happy me too!

A Cut Too Deep

19 Nov

After completing Ginormous Gnome the Second, I moved to carving a Whale. Somehow for this piece, I had reservations when I started but I did not take heed. The two pieces of Meranti were different – one was too hard and the other too soft. I don’t know what I was thinking when I glued them together. I decided to go ahead to carve out the usual.

It wasn’t easy because one side being so soft, created a lot of craters when I worked on it. I didn’t even exert any strength and it would break. But the other side being so hard, I had no choice but to exert strength and this inadvertently hurt my elbow. Sigh… and I didn’t want to abandon the piece, so I ploughed on.

And then this happened – the tail broke off… Arrrghhhh!!!! I was aghast! What have I done?

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The soft, the hard and the broken…

The piece was on lying on the softer side when I was shaping the harder side of the tail. But it was a cut too deep and the pressure broke the softer side of the tail.

Instead of abandoning the piece by now, which I was still reluctant, I thought a little prosthetic tail can perhaps save the piece. I felt that I have put in so much effort up till now, I didn’t want to give up.

How to salvage this fella? I had to plan and devise a rescue mission.

Here’s Ginormous the Second!

18 Nov
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Ginormous the Second looks better from the side than the front

I’ve finally gotten around to painting up Ginormous Gnome the Second. And I must say it does look good especially from its side profile. Compared to Ginormous the First, the difference in body width is very obvious. I think if I have two blocks of the exact same size, both pieces would still come out slightly different.

As every piece is hand-carved, there’s bound to be some variation, subtle or obvious that gives each piece their unique character. The end result of both looking the same is only in terms of the overall shape and colors.

I’m pleased that the second piece turned out good and preparations are underway to start the next gnome soon.

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Side by side, Ginormous 1 and 2 are very different in size!

A New Direction, Part 2

12 Nov

The efforts on Ginormous Gnome the second has been coming along fine. My only problem with it was its width – a wee bit skinny. It actually looks fine from the side profile angle but from the front, a tad too thin.

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The nose job was tough!

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Putty added to smoothen the surface throughout

The nose was the biggest challenge for this piece despite it being one piece unlike Ginormous One, which had an add-on. And since the overall body was rather skinny from the front, the big nose had to be shaved down to be proportionate to the body.

A lot of work but at the end, I’m pleased with the result. Once it’s painted up, another excellent Gnome to be displayed with the rest. Or I could give this fella away? Hmm…

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Looking good from the side with gesso applied as base before painting it up!

 

Looks like there may be more giant Gnomes coming up considering I have recently gotten new supplies of wood. Yay!

A New Direction

8 Nov

After the bout of carving six Citizens not too long ago, I was ready for another big piece. Suddenly carving big pieces is the way to go! This latest attempt at another Ginormous Gnome is again a combination of three Meranti wood, making it the second piece with three glued pieces.

This time there’s no add-ons for depth, learning from the previous piece. Also I am unfazed by the height because I know what to do. And there certainly won’t be any hole in the cap because I sketched the Gnome to be smaller with plenty of room to shape.

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Let the carving begin!

These days I seem to prefer carving big pieces over little Gnomes as it does not aggravate the left wrist because I don’t need to have a dead grip with the left hand. If you must know, carving Citizens is not painful because it’s on soft balsa, not semi-hard Meranti wood.

But I still have to find the right balance with this new direction because at times, the right golf elbow can still be aggravated if I’m at it too long – the repetitive motion on the semi-hard Meranti.

Sometimes if I have a weekend game coming up, I’d carve less to prevent any recurrence of pain. However if the pain persist on game day, I have no choice but to pop painkillers and use Salonpas patches to subdue it.

Perhaps with the new lighter golf set making golf enjoyable again, I can find the middle ground to have satisfaction to enjoy both golf and carving simultaneously without giving up one or the other.

I’ll see how, until then onwards with the new piece!

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Slowly but surely it’s coming along!

A Timely Change

5 Nov

I changed my golf set recently! It was a decision made after mulling over it for months. Prior to this, I felt I couldn’t improve my game anymore especially with the recurring injuries and change wouldn’t help anyway. Why change when playing better golf was also not at the top of my priority anymore?

Factor in my desire to carve and I was at it constantly, golf was no longer my focus. But constant carving came with a price – aggravated pain on the right elbow whenever I did a little bit more than necessary. And when there’s pain, it affects the golf; and if playing good golf was out of the question with the recurring problem, why bother to change? I was at it in circles for months.

But a good deal came along and I caved.

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My new set… here’s to playing better golf!!!

So I gave up my TaylorMade RBZ irons, Maruman Conductor driver and wedge, Cleveland woods, hybrid and wedge for a lighter pre-owned Srixon XXIO MP900 set to replace them. The only thing I kept was my Scotty Cameron Squareback putter. Less clubs in the bag, 10 instead of 14, this made my approach on the game changed too. But for the better. Also the lesser clubs means a lighter load and we’ve been walking nine-holes carrying our golf sets instead of using the golf trolleys the last three weeks. Very good exercise as I find myself sweating buckets each time.

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The old set, thanks for the good times!

It took me a few games to adjust my swing to the new clubs and know the distances. The new driver however, loses to my previous driver’s performance but that is only because I have had the Conductor for years and have been so in-tuned with its ability. It’s just a matter of time before I am able to master the new driver to maximize its performance. After all, every new piece of equipment will require time to get used to them, some just take longer than others. So I’m not worried.

Overall, all the clubs feel good and even with some nagging pain on the right elbow, I am striking the ball better and further. This means I can still carve but with care of course. A win-win situation nonetheless. I love the new 3-wood as it’s giving me the distance I couldn’t get previously.

It didn’t take me long to master the new Sand wedge for my short game though. With just one club to use for the 50 meter (or less) range instead of the three choices I had previously – the Approach, 52˚ or 56˚ wedges, being indecisive on what to use has suddenly been taken out of the situation, making the approach so much easier. And I must say it has been super accurate, cutting down strokes to get on the green and pretty close to the flagstick. A real confidence booster to come back with better scores. I love it!

And this was evident when I played in my Club’s November Monthly Medal bogey-play tournament over the weekend; I came out tops in the Ladies category! Woo hoo…. however due to the low turn out of just six ladies (a minimum of eight participants was required for the winner to receive a trophy), I was an ‘unofficial’ winner without the showpiece. It’s okay, I’ll take it as is and am glad I made this timely change. I just hope it won’t be a one-time wonder and definitely looking forward to playing better golf from here on.

A Good Push

8 Oct

Pumped by the satisfaction of Ginormous Gnome being completed, it was odd I couldn’t push myself to start on the next Whale despite plans to do so and having all that energy to carve. Plus I had just given away yet another Whale, two pieces within a week, it’s reason enough to get back to producing Whales.

Citizens #188 right through to #193!

Instead there was a sudden burst for the Citizens of Gigglesville. Within a few days, six new Citizens came about! Which was kind of nice because this means I should be able to reach 200 in its population count sooner that I thought I would.

However, in the midst of this, I found myself planning yet another Ginormous Gnome as I have started the process for it. Should be interesting how this one will turn out after the trials and error from the last one.

Glued and clamped to have a big block

The Ambitious Piece Completed

7 Oct
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He’s one good-looking gnome I must say!

I am so very pleased with my latest piece of carving. My best effort yet. This was an ambitious piece because of its height at almost 20cm to begin with and the unevenness of the glued pieces to tackle. The protruding excess was, well… excess.

But once it started taking shape, the height wasn’t the issue and eventually it got shorter. The completed Gnome now stands at 16cm (about 6.5 inches).

Soon after I painted it up, I would just sit at my little work station to admire it from all angles at every opportunity possible. I didn’t even bother to start on the next intended piece. No hurry as I bask in the satisfaction on a job well done for the time being.

Yes, I love my new Gnome!

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An Ambitious Piece, Part 3

4 Oct

I am at the tail-end to complete Ginormous Gnome. I’m satisfied with how the shape of the cap bob at the back turned out. I think it’s not necessary for it to be even more prominent because then I’d have to glue an add-on piece to it, like what I did for the nose and then tediously carve it down.

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Nose checked, gap in beard checked!

The nose which posed some challenges initially was resolved. Once I got over these issues, the rest was not that difficult – the body was effortless but the beard was time consuming to shape. However after shaping the beard, I was faced with a new predicament!

 

The front of the beard was looking so flat! Haish…

After all that effort to give the nose some prominence, the flat beard made all that hard work look wasted. So I decided to glue a piece and several add-ons to the beard part so that it does not appear so flat and square. Quite challenging to carve, shape and puff up that part but it was fun.

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The extra piece to puff up the beard

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The beard part resolved and putty all over to smoothen the surface

It’s good I am keeping track of what I am doing now because if I ever wanted to carve another Ginormous Gnome, I have this to refer to and would be better prepared. Sometimes what I envision in my mind does not quite come out right, so along the way, I have to adjust.

That being said, Ginormous is progressing at a good pace as I’m at it diligently almost every night. Soon I will be starting a new piece and it will most likely be another whale because recently, I gave one away.

At this point, I’m considering to paint Ginormous in the red and blue uniform like my other Gnomes rather than the Lavender of Gandalf. It should look good.

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Last step of putting gesso completed before the final paint job!