Tag Archives: Meranti wood

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

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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!

An Ambitious Piece

23 Sep

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Two weeks ago, I started on a very ambitious and challenging piece of carving. Ambitious because of its size, measuring at almost 20cm tall before I even started. And challenging because the chunky piece is a combination of three Meranti pieces glued together and uneven in height at the top.

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I wanted to do another Gandalf-like Gnome because it’s been awhile since I last did a giant piece. I have been too focused on the Whales lately so much so, the Gnomes and Citizens of Gigglesville have been neglected. But I am unperturbed by the stalled population growth because I am sure when the mood hits, I can whip up some Citizens or Gnomes effortlessly.

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The biggest challenge now is to shape the cap of Ginormous Gnome and ensure that the gaping hole does not become a permanent feature on it. We’ll see how it will be as I progress.

More Online Shopping

19 Aug

Lately, I have been doing quite a fair bit of online shopping. Somehow the urge to buy something has gotten to me, so I bought a range of things. It certainly saves time clicking on the mouse to discover what appeals rather than walking–sometimes mindlessly–at the mall.

Purchase #1: insole arch support. I thought this was necessary given the plantar fasciitis problem that I have now. And so far, this purchase has worked out well with the insole stuffed into my Skechers and golf shoes, the only two types of shoes I wear these days. Some may question why couldn’t I just buy this from a physical shop? Well, there were more choices online.

Purchase #2: anti-slip waterproof shoe covers which I thought could be useful. This purchase came about because it was raining a lot at one point and I wanted to be prepared. If we were caught outside in this wet weather, I didn’t want my Skechers to get soaked when I have to get down from the car. Remember the last time I did this and I ended up with cold toes at the bar? Not a nice feeling. But after the packages (there were two types) arrived and whenever it rained, we just don’t go out. Oh well. Nevertheless, the packages are left in the car in case it does rain and we are out.

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Right foot with the waterproof shoe cover, left foot without for comparison

Purchase #3: extra MiBand straps because the last two broke for the MiBand 2 wearable that I am still using. A practical buy I must say.

Purchase #4: a mini bubble spirit level device to aid my carving. Why the need for this suddenly? Well, prior to this mini one that just recently arrived, I had actually bought another one which was too big to use but I had no choice. The recent few whales did not look too level at the top (it’s not very obvious to others, only to me) and I did not feel good about it. The imperfection happened when I joined two pieces of Meranti wood that are of different heights. So a bubble spirit level was necessary after using the flat plane to level the surface. Now with a smaller one, it should work better on the small surface over the bigger level unit.

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Accuracy is compromised with the difference in size so obvious

Purchase #5: some golf accessories which are taking the longest time to arrive. I think this delay, which is unusual, is due to the unrest in Hong Kong recently. Oh well, this purchase falls into the nice-to-have category and not the critical-must-have, so I am not too bothered by the delay. They will be delivered in due course.

So online shopping can be fun with some purchases silly, mundane or practical, it just depends on your needs and wants.

Have Putty Will Do

13 Aug

This latest piece that I carved had some challenges. The sides were not even and riddled with holes and ‘craters’ because when I split the wood into two, I didn’t do a good job.

After carving out the whale shape, minimizing the craters, the holes were still there but there’s nothing that putty can’t fix. Having putty is essential to fix what carving can’t do smoothly.

img_4312You can’t even tell that prior to it looking like this, once upon a time there were holes. Whale #37 is looking mighty fine I might say and was okay once varnish was applied to coat the paint.

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Fresh Supply, Part 2

23 May
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The various stages of carving a Whale

With so much Meranti wood, every evening I am kept busy! When the sun is up, I would be playing golf (especially this week) but when the sun goes down, I would be carving.

The process is simple, find two Meranti blocks that are about the same size to Elmer-glue together. Then clamp it down with the work bench for a day or so before carving. And although there’s a fixed set of measurements and angles to ensure every piece is standardised, there are still some variations. After all, it’s wood that I am dealing with and the carvings are all hand-made.

The chipping, carving and initial shaping does not take long. This is the fun but dusty and messy part. If I stay focused, I usually get one piece done a night depending on what time I start. It is after the carving that the process takes longer and sometimes tedious too because every step of the way requires time or even have to be repeated.

Details on the eyes and tail take time. The eyes are usually marked, carved out first before drilling to ensure it’s perfectly round and even. For the tail, it’s the curves and corners that I have to work on. Then the sanding and filing to shape the overall curves.

Putty work is next to patch ugly holes and the piece is then left to dry, taking time because this curing process cannot be hurried. When the piece is ready—usually a couple of hours or more depending on how much is applied—more sanding and filing, creating more dust and mess. Sometimes this step needs to be repeated if the patch work is insufficient to even out the holes properly.

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Putty work: before and after comparison

But when all patch work are completed, a coat of white gesso is applied and the piece is left to dry again for another day. The next step – more sanding to smoothen the surface before a second coat of gesso. By now it’s the fourth or fifth day from the first cut.

Once I am satisfied with the surface, on goes the acrylic paint, two coats over two days. Of all the colors I have, the new Glitter Blue color is most problematic because it requires more than two coats, several coats in fact to be even.

The last process is the gloss varnish, also two coats, before the final touches are added – the felt cloth on the base, the date and my signature and voila! The piece is finally complete.

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Before and after of the final touches with felt base, date and my signature!

With the fresh supply, I find myself repeating this routine every other night with several pieces overlapping each other in various stages of the process. Tedious, repetitive but enjoyable.

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Working on four pieces in various stages simultaneously

Fresh Supply

21 May

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I am in wood heaven! Two weeks ago, I received two boxes of freshly cut Meranti wood to continue with my carving. And carving I have been doing.

I realize now that carving Whales do not hurt my left wrist compared to Gnomes. It is the size – Gnomes are smaller than Whales, and how I grip the wood tightly (when carving a Gnome) causing a strain to the wrist. Add in the many angles of a Gnome, that’s why the tender area of the wrist would flare up if pressure and the repetitive action is applied constantly.

I have stopped carving Gnomes and Citizens of Gigglesville for the time being and just focusing on Whales which are much easier to handle. Anyway, the Gnomes and Citizens are decorative, cute and fun but the Whales are more than that, they are useful – being a smart phone holder.

The best part, I can still play golf without pain and the Whale population has been growing steadily. Yay.

Killer Whale?

2 May

Whale 28 has turned out to be more than a Killer Whale, it’s killer gorgeous! With its wide body and the shiny pearl effect, I think Pink Taffeta is the color to use from now on for new whales. So I will go back to Meranti and work on more whales.

Ahhh… fun times ahead!

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More New Colors, Part 2

26 Apr

It’s hard to stay away from carving Whales. After the balsa bout, I itched to get back to Meranti, so here’s Whale 28. This fella’s a bit odd in size because the wood block that’s available is wider than most of the other pieces that I have done. Oh well.

It is kinda cute in its own way and once I paint it with the new pearl Pink Taffeta color, it will just be so gorgeous!

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Win-Win-Win-Win Situation

11 Apr

This 16/8 diet seems to be really good for me. So far, coupled with my activities, it’s been effective – I feel good and there’s more to this. That’s why I call it a win-win-win-win situation.

The 16/8 is strictly on weekdays but I have lost weight. Win number one.

On weekends, I play golf. Win number two. And after golf, a nice lunch where I would eat and basically don’t restrict myself. I only avoid food that can cause discomfort due to my Endometriosis. But as I now eat at a 16/8 time frame, my tummy has shrunk and no matter what nice food are on the table, I don’t eat a lot.

The best part, I also drink during lunch. Win number three. A couple of whiskey shots, not necessarily excessive but enough to feel good. Sometimes at home at night, a glass of wine to relax. Alcohol, I must admit is one thing I can’t give up. I should stay away from beer though because unlike, wine and whiskey, I tend to drink more and that’s not good.

And I wouldn’t say I eliminated sugar totally as I do find myself snacking on some candies and cookies occasionally during the window to eat. Win number three and a half?

For the final win number four? Carving of course! I have turned to balsa for now because the existing stock pile of Meranti wood are not the right sizes for carving any Whales or even Gnomes. Basically a lot more work is needed to cut them to size and I avoided this to preserve the wrist prior to the Iron Challenge golf tournament.

But now that the tournament is done and over, I am in a good place to go back to carving, first with balsa to increase the population count of my Citizens of Gigglesville and eventually back on Meranti. What a win-win-win-win situation indeed.