Way back in the Spring of 2014 I began the preliminary work on my five -year project, a faithful replica of the crossbow of Ulrich V, Count of Wurttemburg. Well, four years in and work still hasn’t started and l must confess to becoming somewhat distracted by building longbows. However, my research and skills acquisition has been going along quietly, and you might remember the posts on summer 2014 on working with antler that formed the early part of my research along with the notes on working with water buffalo horn last summer. The last piece of the puzzle finally fell into place when one of the members on The Arbalist Guild forum recommended I get hold of the paper on the Ulrich bow by Baron de Cossin and which contains a detailed analysis of the construction of a horn and sinew crossbow. So, research and practice all completed. I’ve got 10kg of buffalo horn arriving tomorrow; hopefully it won’t take another four years…
We popped out for lunch, as you do, on the weekend but the garden centre didn’t let dogs in the café and as it was pouring down, lunch outside wasn’t an option so we wandered down the road toward Newport and stumbled on a place new to us, the Dragonfly. We had an excellent lunch (highly recommended) and nicely lit, hanging on the wall right behind the table, was a beautifully carved door panel. I’ve seen the pattern reproduced several times over the years but never an actual carving. It would pay any student of carving to study the piece as the technique is outstanding, although I was taught never to stamp the background. Stamp is what you do with your feet, backgrounds should be smooth or lightly tooled…
Over Christmas I managed to grab a few hours here and there and whittled this little group from a holly branch, just as a bit of fun. The owls took maybe 3/4 hour each, but the mouse took a lot longer – like 6 hours longer, but in my defense I’d never carved a mouse before. The mouse is smaller than a £1 coin, at about 1cm across. I haven’t put a finish on yet, I’m still trying to decide whether to add some colour to the mouse, or leave him white.
I found this sweet little figurehead upstairs in the Victoria Inn in Salcombe, South Devon (highly recommended by the way). I really don’t know if its a restoration, reproduction, or new carving but I do know I really like it, the tilt of the head just gives the whole piece a lift. I did ask the staff for any information about her but I’m afraid they were none the wiser.
Travel tip, do not go up the funicular from the river to the palace in Budapest, its a tourist trap, and a very expensive one. Go one stop down the tram railway and ride the escalator in the palace gardens behind the ladies gate. The gardens are beautiful; the entrance buildings are stunning. Right by the escalator is a little water spout, a bear in the Bavarian (I think) style. The more you look the better he gets, the modelling is stunning. These photos should be enough for any half decent carver to develop a pattern from.
OK, so I did say, back in September, I would post some more carving-related snaps when I found my camera-sinc lead. Couldn’t find it anywhere so I finally invested in a new card reader. Anyway, as promised, some photo-sets.
First just a couple of the doors, door surrounds and door decor that seem to be a significant element of the decorative features of architecture in the city.
Lions are everywhere you look around the palace quarter but these particularly caught my eye
And the eagle, of course.
This little guy pushed me a little bit, I tried to carve him entirely with the chain saw, except for the eyes. I’m pretty happy with the outcome; he looks a lot better in real life than the photos; makes me smile when I walk by. My daughter painted him and I think she did really well. The carving stands about 16″ high, is from birch and painted with acrylics.