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…
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 was a really fun-yet-frustrating project. Opinels are great pocket knives with very sharp straight-ground blades perfect for whittling. The beech-wood handles, I find, are not so great, being a little too short for my comfort. Searching t’internet revealed many people customise their Opinels, so I thought I would have a go.
Taking the knife apart is straight-forward but needs some moderate amounts of force. Be very careful driving out the pivot-pin, it is very easy to bend (but don’t ask me how I found this out).
Once the knife is broken down, use the handle to take your measurements for the replacement parts, not the metal collar. The metal collar is designed to squeeze the cheeks for the blade-pivot closed just the right amount on the blade and both prevent it from wobbling when open, and to apply a small amount of friction when opening and closing. Therefore, the wooden cone the metal collar fits over needs to be made fractionally over-sized; again, please don’t ask me how I found this out….
Carving the handle was a lot of fun, and luckily I had kept an old broken knife whose snapped blade proved to be the perfect graving tool for cutting the knife slot. I used some off-cuts of buffalo-horn and a small chunk of holly ( Ilex Aquifolium). One of the joys of a project like this is the chance to use up some of those tiny off-cuts you couldn’t bare to throw away – the total length of the handle is only 10cm ! On my screen, the first image is the actual size of the knife.
Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to try some scrimshaw but I couldn’t find any on-line tutorials for engraving on wood. I took the finish down to 400-grit then burnished the holly with brown paper and marked up my design. I scratched in the pattern with a spade-drill bit I sharpened to a needle-sharp point. Note, very little pressure is needed to do the actual engraving. Now, the difference between antler/ivory and wood is the fact that wood grain sucks up liquids, while these liquids just sit in the scratches in antler/ivory. Finding the best ink was a challenge. Paint just ran through the grain and made an unholy mess, so did all the ‘runny’ inks. Charcoal was not dark enough, nor was soot. Eventually I found a fine roller-ball pen that uses a ‘sticky’ ink that worked tolerably well. Of course, being a water-based ink, I couldn’t use a water-based finish as it would wash the ink into the wood-grain, but Danish Oil proved perfect for the task.
Apologies for the awful photo quality
A short while ago we went on a family holiday. Family holidays are difficult to design as some of us like hot and sunny and beaches and some of us really don’t like any of that, so we went somewhere hot and sunny and not a beach, in fact about as far from a beach as you can get – Budapest ! It was fabulous, definitely will return some day, but what has that got to do with this blog you might ask. Well, there was some fascinating wood and metalwork dotted around here and there and from time to time I’ll post some once I’ve found the sinc lead for my camera. The kids took this photo for me on their phone. I thought it was a fantastic piece of carving in the Gibbons style, but very careful examination of the image shows it to be the most fabulous metalwork! The site of the original is on the road that runs between the palace and the town hall. Enjoy.
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.
OK, its a bit morbid, but I do like wandering around graveyards – we used to play find the oldest grave when my parents dragged me round various Cathedra and ancient churches when I was much younger than I am now – and this is my favourite memorial, particularly for the sad history that goes with it.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Morgans of Tredegar House were among the richest and most influential families in the country. Courtenay Morgan, Lord Tredegar, had two children, Evan and Gwyneth, who were very close. Evan was a fascinating character, a real party animal, skilled artist, occult practitioner, Papal advisor and gifted animal trainer. Gwyneth was a beautiful socialite and something of a Bohemian who fell into bad company. At the age of 29, Gwyneth died under mysterious circumstances, possibly of a drug overdose. Her body was pulled from the Thames and some say her pockets had been filled with stones to weight her down. Such a terrible disgrace was felt by her father that he refused to bring her body home for interment in the family grave. On Courtenay’s death, Evan was finally able to bring his beloved sister home and he raised this gravestone to her memory; it’s very Evan in feel, I think, and very beautiful, but, I always wonder why he buried her in her own plot instead of in the family grave.