This was my most recent commission, a wedding gift for the groom from his bride. The photo doesn’t do it justice at all. The biggest challenge was the water-lily as I’d never carved one before but it all turned out very nicely. The mahogany threw up a few challenges as it can be prone to splitting. The ship’s wheel is fore-shortened in the photo as it is carved on an angle. The top half of the spoon is actually the same length as the heart/stem/bowl. The underside of the flower is fully carved also, with the tendrils forming a never-ending knot and holding onto the horse-shoe that forms the top of the heart-lock
This little distraction occupied much of my spare time from the end of November to late January, and now it has been delivered I can post about it. The lovespoon was completely hand-carved, using a coping-saw to rough it out, then whittled with a knife and a very small shallow gouge; a tiny spoon-bent gouge was used to cut through the links(the heart is completely free to move around but the intertwining knot-work stops it from falling out). The only other tool used was a medium spoon-bent gouge for the bowl. I hate sanding and put it off until there is no alternative – the tool marks were smoothed down by scraping with the knife-edge held vertically – any remaining marks were smoothed off with a 400-grit abrasive mesh. Ironically, the wood was almost too smooth and the paraffin-wax finish needed warming up gently to make it more sticky as it just slipped off the wood in some places.
Righto, well, about 2 months ago I managed to scrape together enough time to nip over and pick up the carvings I sent to Brest. Apparently, temperatures in the tent exceeded 40 degrees and the wax I used as an emergency finish melted and ran into the ‘pockets’ in the rope-work making the carving look shallower than it was, although the tiller still looked great from anything more than arms length away. I’m probably the only person to have noticed anything was wrong. While I was picking out the wax, I noticed some small adjustments to make, but the adjustments broke through the oxidised surface (wood changes colour as it oxidises), meaning I had to wait for the adjustments to oxidise and even out the colour difference before I could sort out the photographs. Should have made the project simpler, finished in good time, taken lots of photos…… did say at the outset, time was always going to be an issue, sometimes I hate being right! Hope you enjoy the slideshow.
Wow, a whole year has past since the last entry on this series, now that’s what I call ‘occasional’!
OK, so if you recall, I made a big thing about the importance of the jaw-line. Well, now that I have finally taken some photos of the Brest Tiller, I can illustrate the point with the view of the face from under the neck. The image also nicely illustrates the prominence of the nose, and, if you look very carefully, the curve of the forehead is just about visible too.
Now that the rope-work section only needs tidying up it really is time to move on to the next section. First of all I developed this pattern on paper cut to the shape of the length of tiller. The section is going to be ‘interesting’ to lay-out as it tapers, curves and is oval in cross-section. I cut a sheet to size and trial fitted it before I developed the pattern below:
Once drawn up the pattern was glued in place but once glued in place the pattern was about 2mm out where it stuck more tightly to the curve than it did when it was dry and relatively stiff , so, nothing for it but to draw it directly on to the timber. First you need a construction grid – four centre lines, one for each side, then verticals to mark the centre for each diamond. Next mark out half way between every point the vertical and horizontal lines intersect and join them up to form a diamond grid which were thickened:
The lines were then tidied up to give the final lay-out. The diaper flowers are being trialed at the same time, but as these will be carved away, they will be properly laid out at a later stage. Far left shows a turks-head knot ready for carving.
Things are progressing, slowly, but I am still more-or-less on schedule, having managed to cobble together somewhere near 20 hours carving on the tiller in between and around other work. I know I felt I would leave the rope-work until the whole thing was roughed out but in the end I have concentrated on getting it done and now the ropework is nearing completion; I think about 5 more hours should see it done.
Hopefully you can see that the work is much deeper and more fully rounded. You might also see where I have started some fancy ‘whipping’ on the one end: more of that in a later post. Incidentally the only tool I am using at the moment is a 10mm skew-chisel – the pointed end is essential for getting into the tiny spaces
The tiller is coming along, the pictures say it better than my words – about half the length of the knotwork is roughed out, progress is working out at just over an inch an hour – so 12 more hours carving will finish this stage, then I guess about another 15 hours to refine the carving.
The first picture shows the whole length, the spiral roughed out to the left, the pattern marked out and the roughed-out knots in the second, and the third shows the depth of carving the whole length will be carved to eventually. The only tools needed are a small chisel and a v-tool (aka parting tool)