The execution of a concept: from plan to finished piece
From an initial concept drawing, an accurate plan is often made that aids in the creation of plywood or MDF templates. These are used to guide tools such as routers to rough out basic shapes (a process in carving called “blocking out”). While sometimes non-guided “freehand” techniques are used to block out shapes, these templates ensure that the finished piece retains accurate form and symmetry.
Shown are two of several separate template designs used to create “Sea Foam”, one of a series of handmade clocks made by the artist. Note that templates are only used in blocking out the carving; finished shaping is always done freehand. Detailed pierced carvings (holes & fissures) are also accomplished freehand without the aid of templates, ensuring that each individual art piece remains unique even within a limited edition series.
Anatomy of a carving: the making of "Coral Reef"
Often carvings begin by first creating a block of wood with appropriate dimensions that acts as a canvas. In “Coral Reef”, five pieces of 4" thick basswood were glued together (called "glue-up") to produce a block measuring 24"h x24w "x4"d. Large amounts of wood were then removed by hand and power tools to create the larger contours of the carving, a process called "shaping."
In “Coral Reef”, detailed “pierced” carvings comprising holes & fissures were made using a variety of rotary bits and burrs. This pattern provides a sense of growth like the colonization of millions of coral polyps that build natural reef structures.
The final step entails sanding and application of a finish (generally a Shellac base and polyurethane top coat). In “Coral Reef”, wood dyes were also applied by airbrush to emulate the vibrant colors encountered in shallow water reefs.