I’ve finished playing with the dragon-head that was carved in the first part of this article. I wasn’t going to go any further with it but couldn’t resist the opportunity to do some snake-scale carving.
Carving the snake-scales is well underway in the picture (above). Two base-lines were used for the lay-out, one just visible behind the fringe of ‘spikes’ at the beginning of the neck, the other a line marking the junction between the snakey-scales and the long and thin scales that cross the underside of the neck.
The snake scales were carved with a deep gouge (a number 6,7, or 8 will do) to set in the pattern, BUT a gouge of half the depth and half the width was used as well to do the half-cut where the scales meet the base line, and where they meet the horns.
After the pattern is laid-out the carving was done with a SHARP, long, thin, blade – the long thin point is needed to reach into the junction between scales.
The snake-scale carving is completed here, and the carving under the neck is underway. These scales were very simple to carve. First a deep line is scored with a knife (known as a ‘stop-cut’ – because the blade will reach this and stop moving and any timber that splits away will not split past this cut).
Next the same blade is used to cut a champfer into the stop-cut, first one way, as shown in this image; then the other as shown in the next image.
When the three cuts meet the waste should fall away as shown here.
I try to never sand a carving, and the rough edges were tidied up by gently pulling the sharp blade across the carved surfaces, with the blade held vertically so that it acts as a scraper. Scraped surfaces and carved surfaces will not rise when wetted by a water-based finish such as the acryllic paints used in the next phase, which is…
The paint was simple to apply.
First a white base-coat was applied and allowed to dry; next a top coat of blue was applied over the white and then wiped off straight away leaving the blue filling the low points and exposing the white over the high points and surface.
Finally a wax (or varnish, if you prefer) was applied to give a pleasant sheen