Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby DavidFisher » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:04 pm

Another technique to consider is the use of gouge chips. Cutting vertically, then back up slightly to remove a crescent shape chip. When these are combined in various ways, it can look like a flying bird or a pair of leaves, among other things. Peter Follansbee's 17th century work sometimes features this technique. I've used it on some bowl rims, etc.

Regardless of the decorative carving style, the more important consideration is the form of the object itself. No amount of decorative carving is going to rescue a piece with poor proportions or form. This is, as they say, like putting lipstick on a pig.

A spoon is an extreme example of "carving in the round." It doesn't even sit on a stand. It is held, used, and viewed from every possible angle. It is a small sculpture. The proportions, lines and form make it beautiful. Decorative carving is like jewelry on a beautiful woman; She doesn't really need it, but it can enhance her beauty.

I still use decorative carving. It is very traditional, and often symbolic in many cultures. Plus it is a fun challenge and can make a piece more pleasing in some cases.

In many cases, the "intricate" carving itself is the object, as in a carving of a green man, for example. Like a spoon, these things have beauty and function -- they are visually functional. They eye has needs to.

I guess the key is to give these things thoughtful consideration. There is a great line in John Brown's book Welsh Stick Chairs: "I decided to put a bead around this seat. I don't know why....On this chair it lools alright, but it would have been just as alright without it. There's a lesson here somewhere."
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:00 am

Hmm, something to consider. There is much good to be said for simplicity. I tend to prefer less decorated/undecorated items (possibly a British trait*, not quite Puritanical/Amish but there is a wiff of that about it). Although I am getting into the "Swedish woodenware" and there is a certain style of decoration which is part of that, sometimes. I think the appeal is its relative simplicity/naivety and the limited "pallet" of tools - axe & knife (+ gouges + adzes + ...). But I take your point, a beautifully shaped spoon or bowl may need no decoration, might in fact be spoilt by it (I was picturing that wonderful big walnut bowl of yours as I typed that :D) - "gilding the lily" as Oscar Wilde put it.

*Ask a Brit & an American what they think of gold-plating.

By the way, I watched a Chris Pye video on youtube - and noticing his English accent, wondered if he was the woodcarver I saw at Art in Action last Saturday (next to the spoon carver in the One Oak marquee). I think not though, instead it was probably the carver listed immediately after him on the British Woodcarvers Association webpage, Peter Walwin. Regrettably, I didn't get the chance to speak to him and only had fleeting looked at what he was doing - he was carving a 3-D tree in relief, using a fishtail gouge to get underneath the foliage. I did chat briefly with a wood/lino engraver on the other side of the spoonmaker - trying to pick-up some tips on this very subject (unfortunately I don't think I picked up much, other than using a computer to reverse an image before tracing it out - not really what I had in mind).
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:49 pm

I've just ordered a couple of knives from Ben Orford,a big pick knife & an engraving knife (shown on P1 of this thread but not on his website). I figure somebody here needs to try these things out & write them up. I've wanted to get some Ben Orford tools since first starting to look into this greenwood malarkey. His youtube videos & sharpening stick system are essentials. Nice to order something handmade, in Britain.

No offense intended to Nic Westermann, I expect to purchase some of his blades in the future, when I can make handles to do them justice. The clip point carvers are intriguing.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:11 am

Going to have to stop ordering tools, every time I have place a tool order something major has broken immediately afterwards:
- After my first & second orders, the Bosch Worcester oil furnace and central heating broke down within hours.
- The day I placed my third order, the Siemens dishwasher expired (fitting a new PCB costs as much as a new machine).
- Shorty after placing my order yesterday, my Ryobi chainsaw broke, again, probably terminally (just out of 2 year warranty). I'd just started cutting the bulk of my firewood for the winter, just about to start the second rack full and the starter expired. :(

In the last 2 weeks, that's my workbench, lawnmower, strimmer/weedwhacker & chainsaw have all broken!* :( Looks like I'm going to be helping kick-start the economy over the next few weeks. Maybe that's why I prefer hand-tools.
Last edited by ToneWood on Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby jrccaim » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:01 am

ToneWood wrote:Going to have to stop ordering tools, every time I have place a tool order something major has broken immediately afterwards:
- After my first & second orders, the Bosch Worcester oil furnace and central heating broke down within hours.
- The day I placed my third order, the Siemens dishwasher expired (fitting a new PCB costs as much as a new machine).
- Shorty after placing my order yesterday, my Ryobi chainsaw broke, again, probably terminally (just out of 2 year warranty). I'd just started cutting the bulk of my firewood for the winter, just about to start the second rack full and the starter expired. :(


Ah, ToneWood, how I understand you. As my son pointed out, the good news is that we have a household god. The bad news is that he is Sisyphus :) Of dishwashers I know not; as to chainsaws I know much and now I only buy Stihl chainsaws. Husqvarna used to be just as good but they were bought up by some megacorp and their fate is mediocrity. I own a Ryobi battery arborist electric; it may work well someday. When I get the chain sharpened properly.

But back to decorative carving. I am beginning to detect a common element. (1) make an incision. If you are chip-carving, and making triangles, you make three incisions, with the blade held at 62 deg. Chip pops out, with luck, no, with practice. If you are doing Chris Pye's sort of carving you make a "stab cut" (incision) with a gouge of the proper sweep (i.e. curvature). Gouge vertical. Then (2) you make an angled cut with the gouge. Again, chip pops out. It's all about popping chips. If you are doing real art work, you have to have a selection of gouges with proper sweeps. I make my own but I do very small stuff. nothing wider than say 40mm.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:04 pm

Everything is breaking. Just broke a garage door :(. I hardly dare touch anything these days. Thank heaven for simple, solid hand tools. The new Ben Orford knives should arrive tomorrow - he made a new batch of engraving knife blades.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:18 pm

*Came across a website on chip-carving last week. Their stab-knife has the tip cut off at an angle, presumably to make bigger and/or more positive stab cuts/indents (or novelty?).
Here are "the new Moor chip carving knives":
Image
By the same guy, Dennis Moor:
Image
Chip Carver's Workbook [Paperback] - Dennis Moor (Author)

Take a look at P16 using the preview feature:
Notice the tip of the stab knife is not ground to a point but to an angle. This angle permites it to penetrate the wood easier as well as leave a nice "square back" to the impression it creates...


Chip-carving technique page: http://74.204.170.196/chip.htm
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:39 pm

My Ben Orford knives arrived today :) I couldn't wait to try them out.
Unwrapped - Ben Orford engraving & big pick knives.jpg
Unwrapped - Ben Orford engraving & big pick knives.jpg (42.98 KiB) Viewed 14372 times

So I started cutting triangles and making stab patterns over an axe handle that was nearby. While my chip carving will need practice (this is only the first, no probably second time I have tried it) - the knives are an absolute delight to use.
Practice chips & stabs.jpg
I'm new to chip carving! :)
Practice chips & stabs.jpg (40.69 KiB) Viewed 14372 times

The blades are 2.5mm (rather than 2/3/3.5mm) thick - a good choice I think. It turns out that both knives are perfectly capable of cutting lines and making stab cuts. I'm new to chip cutting so can't really make any meaningful judgement/comparison - but based on my own first chips the knives felt good and cut well.

They are quite small and light and therefore nimble. And I don't get any of that anxiety I got when clasping a relatively long, heavy and extremely sharp Mora sloyd knife blade between my fingers. In truth, either knife alone could satisfy my decorative carving needs - they are both good for this type of work. The diminutive engraving knife is really little, light and super nimble - for example I was able to make stab pattern in a fraction of the time I normally take, simply because it was so easy to move it around. Even nimbler than a pen or pencil. It's a revelation. The slant edge length is just the right size for cutting my maker's mark too. Just hope I don't loose or mislay it, it really is so small - dinky* :)
Ben Orford Big Pick Knife & Engraving knife - nice.jpg
Ain't they pretty
Ben Orford Big Pick Knife & Engraving knife - nice.jpg (79.77 KiB) Viewed 14372 times

The big pick knife is really a small sloyd knife and therefore probably a more versatile knife - I'm already planning to use this for small/fine detail carving on spoons. Perhaps even some kolhrosing?

Both blades have a tiny engraved signature (how does he do that?) and a branded maker's mark on the handle - a nice touch, reassuring too. I'm delight with them so far. Will let you know how I'm getting on after I've used them some more.

*I've noticed small things tend to get used a lot more, simply because they are easier to carry with you.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby nic » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:12 pm

When I was playing with my stab knife design I found that the grind needed to get a good clean triangular depression was quite specialized, it is not really any good for anything but stab 'cuts'. I think for most chip cutting a straight edge is better as well, but chip cutting is something I really have very little experience in.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:54 pm

Yes, that doesn't surprise me. I wonder how Wille Sundqvist makes his stab cuts? In his book he appears to decorate holding the blade of a sloyd knife but I've been unable to produce triangles with as large a base as his with my sloyd knives - although I have found that wiggling the blade is a simple, effective way to widen the base a bit. The shape of some of his indents/stabs made me wonder if he might make two stabs to achieve the wide base? His book also shows a pair of chip-carving knives - so perhaps he just used a stab knife (my gut feeling is that he didn't though)?

BTW I was surprised by the design of chip-carving knife shown - instead of the normal straight-blade and curved-back, it a appears to have a curved front and a straight back - like a squat sloyd knife. But my copy is in German, so perhaps I misunderstood and these are not necessarily intended to be for chip-carving but simply for fine decorative work.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:54 pm

ToneWood wrote:...There is also the highly involved, elaborate decorative carving of highly skilled folk like Grinling Gibbons & Peter Follansbee - which likely require lots of special tools & techniques and is, perhaps, beyond the scope this thread....

Or perhaps not - just came across this video of Peter Follansbee carving and thought it would be a shame not to include a link to it on this thread:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx3ku3td ... ature=plcp (nice music too).

This one on letter carving is very good too, by Kari Hultman, who also made the chip-carving video at the start of this thread. (It features the cleanest, shiniest chisel I've ever seen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqATMrBv ... playnext=1 I don't know if I'd have the patience to carve a whole name plate, for example, like this. And what if you made a mistake near the end...
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:06 pm

Came across this webpage featuring Jogge/Sloyd on Country Workshops excellent US website: http://www.countryworkshops.org/sloyd.html
This image of some really crisp decorative carving caught my eye:
Image
I thought the tool shown might be the tool that was used to decorate it - looks like a chisel tip. But it might just be an SD hook knife taken plan-view.
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Ben Orford Big Pick & Engraving knives

Postby ToneWood » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:27 pm

I had an opportunity to play with my Ben Orford decorative carving knives this morning. Still feeling my way around them, trying different things. Some early observations:

  • The handles are Elm (Ben says this resists splitting, so good choice) and look and feel good, light too.
  • I'm preferring the Big Pick Knife for stab cuts - its shorter bevel makes it the more obvious choice and the triangle it produces is noticeably wider. I still wobble the blade to widen the triangle indent - which is fine, as it give me control over how wide to go - and I don't have to go as deep as with a full size sloyd knife.
  • I'm leaning more towards the dinky Engraving Knife for cutting lines, especially tighter radius curves - but then found myself cutting curving patterns with the Big Pick Knife this afternoon without a second thought or problem. The engraving knife seems better/easier/crisper for chip carving triangles at the moment but I'm still green and need to practice - I can cut clean triangles sometimes but not consistently yet. (I recall Bulldawg's words about "must have cut thousands" when practicing his technique - and take heart :))

BTW Anybody have any tips for carving small circles?
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby jrccaim » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:59 am

ToneWood wrote:...

BTW Anybody have any tips for carving small circles?


Either (a) you have a steady hand indeed, or (b) buy or make a gouge with the sweep equal to the circumference of the circle. This is what I do. I make the bl--y gouge if I have to, out of old hacksaw blades. Form them on a piece of scrap round steel of appropriate radius. Harden, temper, sharpen, handle. Then make two cuts, gouge vertical. Then incline gouge to 60 deg or so. Push in, pop the chip. Two pops and you have the circle. After a while you have an inventory of gouges and need no longer make them. That makes a raised circle. For a scooped-out circle, again make the stab cuts, but scoop out the middle with a small gouge. I have a range of gouges from 2-6mm all homemade. Various sweeps. Today's carving needs YAS (Yet Another Sweep) so tomorrow I am into gouge-making again.

If you have a very steady hand you can do the same thing with a chip-carving knife. But it is really hard, I find, to cut a circle with one of these knives.
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Re: Basic carving decoration / decorative carving

Postby ToneWood » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:15 pm

:D I've noticed that - never seem to have quite the right tool. Semi-circular gouge sounds like interesting idea - but not very versatile as gouges have a fixed radius (but I guess that makes it a viable business :D).
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