Posts Tagged ‘woodcarving’


Trout #1 – Carved fins and tail with a drilled eye.

I’ve been researching historic tin and wood weathervanes to develop wall hanging artwork. The idea is to develop a relatively inexpensive artform that I can produce quickly that features my aesthetic and the same distressed finishing techniques that I use on my carvings.

I’ve experimented with a variety of designs including fox, beaver, chicken and trout. I like working with all, but I am particularly please with my trout.

My bird carvings are breed specific. Each carving is researched and drawn until I develop a paint scheme that clearly identifies the bird as a particular species and gender.

This is not the case with my trout. I have examined a variety of trout photos and historic painted and carved trout. I developed an informal paint scheme — with loads of color and texture — that really pleases me. I really enjoy painting and distressing these.


Tinplate has become a go-to material for bird wings and tails. It seems a natural fit for these fins.


Tail Detail 


Three versions and a sign. I love lettering. I loath fake signs and equate them with fake history….but the urge to letter won out here.


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Click here to watch .

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I finished up the barn owl this morning and shot its portraits. Here are a few process photos and a few formal shots. This bird is available. Click the link on the right for more information.









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My recent great horned owl project was such a success that I’ve begun to create a similar barn owl. Photos include some study sketches and patterns, gluing up stock to create a carving blank and sawing out the outline. Tomorrow I hope to share the next steps.





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As school becomes less hectic I find myself returning to my artistic (and most authentic) life. I’ve resumed birding and carving and am convinced that my work will continue to improve.
In college I was a jazz trombonist — and pretty durned good at it. When I began my family I put the horn away for over ten years. To my astonishment, when I returned to playing I was a much better player. I didn’t have the chops to play in the upper register, but I had, somehow, internalized a huge library of hot licks. I realized I had spent that inactive ten years listening to jazz and running the solos in my head.

Carving is much the same. I took off five months to complete the restoration of one side of my house, do some odd jobs for Mom and get Phoebe off to college. I regretted every day I wasn’t at the bench. I continued to read and research and think about how birds could be put together using wood and found objects. When I finished this Great Horned Owl I realized the even without picking up a knife I was continuing to grow as an artist. I believe that there is a lot more where that came from!

I’ve just begun to re-establish my Etsy store. Click the icon on the right to visit. I’ve offered the Great Horned Owl and Quintessential Murder pictured below.

I believe my next project may be a similar barn owl. We’ll see.

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I finally began to move forward with my full sized tundra swan in flight. When completed it should measure fifty-four inches longpith a wingspan of seventy-two inches. My largest strongly, not surprisingly, is to find the space to do this in my tiny crowded shop.

I work, mainly, using two inch thick white pine planks. The cheeks on this swan are three inches thick so the head and neck (the only carved portions of this bird) blank had to be glued up from two pieces of wood.

The trick to a strong and successful glue joint is perfectly mated wood pieces. Before glueing the pieces I flattened them with a bench plane. I then glued them using a waterproof wood glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so I used lots of clamps (six) and thick cauls.

After the glue had set (twenty mins.) I removed the clamps and sawed the head and neck in two profiles. I saw the profile first and tack the scraps back into place before sawing the outline from the top. I then cut a “handle” at the end of the neck to provide a clamping surface.

Like any carving the next step is to knock the corners off–carve off the corners at forty-five degrees to make the piece octagonal–and begin the rounding process. These corners roll in at the beak to form the top and bottom surfaces. The tip of the beak is left square and will be shaped much later. It’s always a good idea to leave extra wood in areas that may be particularly delicate.

Waterfowl heads are thickest at the base of the cheeks. The sides of their heads slant inward. Unlike ducks, with a pronounced cheek line, swans heads are simply tapered. Using a small hand plane I define the flat sides of the head.

More about this later.










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Just finished these two pieces before they go out. Commissions cost no more than stock pieces and are usually turned around in under two weeks.



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