Saturday, November 24, 2007

War Bonnet!! - Part 2-Carving the Face

With the head and headress pretty well roughed out I'll devote this post to carving the face. I want this warrior to really have a stern or threatening look to him so I set up my little mirror on the workbench so I can see that type of expression as I go along. So in a way this will be a self portrait. As you can see by the end result I'm not a fella to be messed with!!
To do the face I will bring in Old Reliable to do the cleanup work. As this piece is a lot larger than my normal size it's just too big for him to work on large surfaces. But around the eyes, mouth and nose he's my numero uno! No matter what type of knife you use make sure it's sharp.
I really like working on faces as you can literally watch the piece come to life with each chip. One thing that I would like you to notice is how I use the underlying skull of the head to help establish the features. To me this is the most important rule to follow when doing any part of a figure whether human or animal. If you don't know what's inside you'll never fully understand how to do the outside.
So grab those paddles Nurse.....let's bring this guy to life!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

War Bonnet!! - Part 1 - The Headress & Head

All that Thanksgiving Turkey got me to thinking I should carve something with feathers so how about a War Bonnet? Of course I'll put a head in there to make it more interesting. One thing for sure though, as this piece will be a little larger than I normally carve it will tax my 6" bandsaw to it's limits.
A Native American plains headress is one of the most beautiful pieces of costume from any race in my opinion and being as I carve figures from the old west it's a good project for me. The feathers, the plumes, the beadwork and hanging attachments will really present a challenge. But hey! I'm up for about you. I haven't really decided on what will happen beyond the War Bonnet and head...maybe a bust....maybe a full body. We'll face that decision once we get this part of the job completed.
Before you start please take a moment and do the necessary research to learn as much about this piece of headgear as possible. I did a quick search on the web and there is tons of good information free for the taken. Do an image search and you'll find hundreds of photos of this feathered article of clothing. Want to make a real bonnet for yourself? Go to and ask for a free catalog. There are kits you can buy to construct one. Also, that catalog is a goldmine of info, books and photos of various Native American gear. As a favor to me, do your search from the little Google search window to the right on this page. You will enrich me by a couple of pennies if you do. Thanks!

Now let's get to work!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unnamed Cowboy And His Pal Squint!

While I was painting the fella on the right his Bunkhouse buddy Squint dropped by so I thought I'd just put them together to wrap up this post. You're might be wondering why I always seem to have a tailor-made dangling off the lower lip? Well, remember that my Cowboy characters are set in the period of about 1860-1930. I would venture to say that most if not all members of a cattle crew lit up back then. That, plus the fact that it gives a lot of "character" to the character even though it might be a bad habit are two good reasons to do that little detail. You will also note that those cigarellos have a slight bent look to them. If you've ever rolled your own you'll recognize that no matter how hard you try you'll never get that "factory" look to your product.

I mounted these two wranglers on oak bases with a pony shoe. That's a perfect size for the scale I work in. If I had carved an entire body a full sized shoe would work. For the larger shoe I like to use the shoes the Farrier removes from our horses when he gives them a retread. Funny, up in Dayton there was a guy eyeballing one of my figures mounted this way but he said he didn't like the "used" shoe on the piece. I told him it was from my horse Boomer and that that worn look was from the good times the two of us had had roaming around the hills of Oklahoma. I thought it added a much more personal touch than if I'd tacked on a new one. Evidently he didn't agree as he looked a little longer and then wandered off. His loss not mine!

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow and we hope you all have a good one. It will be a quiet one for us with just my Mom coming over. But, as she just turned 92 that's probably the best thing we could be thankful for. Our two sons will be home for Christmas this year so we're thankful for that too.

Lots of photos after the jump to the Gallery. Don't overload on the Turkey!!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Carving A Cowboy's Horse-Part 8-Wrapping it up!

We're done!!! In this post we'll paint the horse and put him all together. I've made him a "Strawberry Roan" in color, sort of a pinkish brown. I've always wondered how this color would look as a woodcarving and I think he turned out pretty good. For a color guide I went to the Rio Rondo website at Scroll down to the bottom of the first page and click on "Site Index". Now scroll down to "Books" and under "Reference Pics" you find just about all the colors of a horse you can imagine. If you want more you can scroll further down to the galleries. This is a terrific reference site for horses. I also buy my little buckles here.
I think this project turned out pretty well. Should you be in Dayton, Ohio this coming weekend you can check out my pony at the Artistry in Wood show. I'll also be giving a talk on carving horses. If you can't make it but still have a question just drop me a comment and I'll try to give you an answer.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Carving A Cowboy's Horse-Part 7 - Some Final Details!

With this post we'll wrap up the carving of the horse and add some final details to make him ready for any ranch work that might need to be done.
First we'll carve a cowboy's rain slicker which we'll tie on the back of the saddle in case those thunderheads off to the east happen to head in our direction. We'll make a lasso that we'll tie onto the front of the saddle so he can rope a few strays. Finally, we'll make a metal bit for the horses mouth. Here's where that Metal Shop experience from your Highschool days finally pays off!!
This has been a long project and you're probably really glad to see this part of it come to and end. I hope you enjoyed it and if you're headed for this year's Dayton, Ohio woodcarving show you'll be able to see my result in person. Hopefully, I can get it painted before then.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Carving A Cowboy's Horse-Part 6-Attaching The Horses's Head!

We've reached the most critical point of this operation. It's time to scub up and head to the operating table. We've got some sewing to do!
My horses head is ready and there is plenty of wood on the body and neck to play with until I get the look I'm after. The important thing here is not to take off too much or you'll end up with a short-necked horse and that wouldn't look very good. Also, remember that the high point on a horse is the withers or shoulders. The neck drops from that point. Like our own neck, the horses neck flows gracefully out from where it meets the main part of the body. The mane will hide most of this on the right side in this case but on the left you'll have to carve this feature. Just look at your reference photos and you'll have no trouble.
Once you glue and push the two pieces together you'll have lots of squeezed out glue. You can carefully wipe this away to keep it from dripping but try to keep it from getting on any finished part of the horse as paint won't adhere there later. If you do just leave it and lightly carve it off once it's dry.
Good luck!!