Saturday, January 7, 2017

Wood Selection or A Kitteh Approved Beginning

 Guest Post by Frank Lyne

When Alison asked me to do a series of guest blogs about the process of wood carving, I said that writing about it on the go would likely change the process, but agreed to do it anyway. Since completing my most recent carving in mid April of 2016, I raised my final tobacco crop and redid the living room. Yesterday seemed like a good time to select a billet for my next carving.
My shop and stable have more shelves stacked with all sizes of wood billets than I can possibly ever turn into carvings. My last selection was made from the shop stores, so for this one, I head to the stable.

There's no electricity and thus no light other than daylight in the stable. The day is mild, but overcast with sporadic misting rain. A couple of hundred sticks of my last tobacco crop had been housed in the stable and part of the empty sticks are still strewn about. I gather the remaining sticks and tie them into bundles, this final time separating ancient hewn sticks from newer sawed sticks. Styro-foam transplant trays are scattered about everywhere. I gather them into stacks. Plastic sheets litter the floor in front of the wood stacks. I gather them into large wads into one corner. Finally disorder is subdued enough to appraise the wood stacks. Nothing speaks to me. The light is too low to carefully assess the properties of the assorted billets. Since I split most of my fresh wood in half before storing it, most are irregular half cylinders. But some are cut where a limb branched off from the trunk. Those are the most interesting and challenging billets to work with. My last carving was a fairly ambitious figurative study, so this one should be something other than a figurative study, and maybe smaller than my last piece. Still nothing catches my eye. Another scan.

Something in a dim far corner isn't a regular half cylinder. It has a flat area on one side. That's good enough. I take it to the shop where I can see it in good light.

Kitteh appraises it and says, “I think it should be a cat.” But within a few licks with gouge and mallet, I decide that it's going to be a turkey. And I deny categorically that selecting turkey as a motif had anything to do with the fact that it was the most recent thing someone suggested that I try.

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