how to….carve a lion-head

Hi All,

having looked through my posts it is clear that there is very little ‘boaty’ carving in there, so over the next few months I will try to address this issue but hopefully the posts will be equally of interest to carvers not interested in things maritime.
On board ship, lions were called cats and cat-heads were very widely used as decoration on European vessels. This is the first in a series of posts on carving lion-heads and we are going to start simply, as usual the point of the posts is to encourage you to have a go, and so the photos will not be perfect and the carving is on-the-fly not posed for the camera.
Apologies over, time to start carving

Pattern first, the side view is the most important in this project, and so is the most worked-up.

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First step is to draw the side profile onto the block and rough it out.  The triangular shape of the head means a hand-saw is all that is needed.

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The semi circle drawn is the arc of the skull.

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imagefront view marked for roughing out, the semi circle at the top is the arc of the skull, the centre line is clearly visible – the centre-line is ABSOLUTLEY ESSENTIAL !!!!!!!!! You will not get the carving symmeterical without a centre-line as it tis the datum line and everything is marked away from it.

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imageCut across the curves of the skull to rough out the face-muzzle. Cut straight across the mane until you reach the arc of the fore-head then follow the arc till it reaches the muzzle

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Two steps on here.  The ‘nose’ has been rounded over and the eye socket has been roughed out.  This is done by cutting a triangle from the side of the nose to the curve of the fore-head ending with a vertical ‘wall’ where the eye is to be carved.

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imageYou would be forgiven for thinking I have skipped a few steps but I haven’t.  All the planes of the muzzle heve been rounded over and the lower jaw cut in just a little.  Most importantly the eyes have been carved.  Basically, the face is now carved and it is a matter of refining things from here on.

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image One of the single most important features of a lion’ face is the eyebrow, it is really mportant that they are carved – it is the eyebrows that give him an expression/personality.  The width of the muzzle also is important for this – wide and content or lean and hungry….

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image Pretty much all there now except for the dots and dashes of the whiskers

imageWhiskers and several coats of bees-wax, all finfished.

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