Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas From Out West!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from the two of us here at the Out West homestead. Believe it or not we got a nice dusting of snow yesterday to make a pretty photo of the Out West shop and Gallery. You can see that I have a fire going in the shop but come Friday all work will stop as our time will be devoted to teasing Grandkids and celebrating the many joys of the season.
Merry Christmas!!

War Bonnet - Part 7 - Adding Some Color

With the carving finished it's time to get the paints out. It's hard to put into words how to do a visual medium so I'll take as many photos as I can as I work my way through these next steps. Just remember, it's not too easy to paint "wet" while also stopping occasionally to take a photo.

First, let me talk a moment about my views of flesh paint as I think a lot of carvers just destroy their work by applying the wrong skin colors. Take a moment and look at the skin on your hands. Do you see any white? If you do then it's time you got up from that computer to go outside and get some sun! However, if you spend a lot of time outdoors like I do you'll probably see the same colors that I do and there is no white in that mix except maybe on my backside but we're not going to talk about that area. The best flesh to me is just a mixture of Red Iron Oxide and Yellow Ochre, at least for the techniques I use. For Native Americans I mix in more of the red. For us white folks I use a little more yellow and thin things down a bit. The important thing to remember is that the wood you're applying the paint to also has a color that works to balance out those other two colors. If you put white in the mix then your figure will take on a pinkish appearance. Well, I've never seen a pink Indian or a pink Cowboy so let's save the white for the feathers and the beadwork.

If you're just beginning to use this "wet" technique of painting use thin washes at first and practice on a piece of scrapwood. You can always add more color as long as you keep your surface damp and those burn lines will keep the colors from crawling in the other areas and that's a big help when your first starting out and working wet.

So....get your brushes, mix up some paint and have some fun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

War Bonnet-Part 6 Tassels & Feathers

Okay...before you fellas out there get excited thinking that Tassels & Feathers might mean a gallery of photos of Dita Von Teese, get your mind out of the gutter.......we're still working on this Indian bust!
Getting back to serious things, this post will outline how I add the tassels to the headress and also how to make the feathers. The tassels on a headress can be just about anything....animal tails, ribbons, feathers. In this case we're going to simulate Ermine skins. They will be painted white with black tips. It might take you a while to get everything to line up correctly, it took me a whole day to do this part. But I enjoy setting there whittling a bit, testing the fit, whittling some more, testing some more, whittling a bit more, and so on and on. Eventually, things will fit together but it will take a while. The important thing on this part is that the pieces will be firmly anchored and look natural hanging from the headband and resting against the body.
The feathers are much easier to make and after you make a couple you will probably be adding them to everything as they really make a piece "snap"! The little wire loop at the end of the quill and the associated loop on the piece will let them dangle and move which really creates interest to the viewer. Besides the two feathers on the shield and the two on the lance there are three more that will go on the back of the skullcap once the piece is painted. Don't glue the attaching loops to the lance or shield, we'll do that once the piece is painted.
So, now that the carving part is finished it's time to set down at the computer and do some googling for reference beadwork patterns, shield designs, Dita von Teese...............Opps! Here comes the wife!!!!!

Lots of photos in the gallery.

Monday, December 10, 2007

War Bonnet-Part 5 The Braids

As everything outside is frozen solid with an ongoing ice storm I thought I'd go ahead and post the work I finished today. As you can see I've added the two braids and burnt in a lot of the detail. The reason for burning now instead of waiting until everything is finished is that when I add the decorative tassels to the headress a lot of the areas will be impossible to reach with the burning pen.
You might find adding the braids difficult but it is doable so just take your time and have fun. Just remember you want them to look natural, they have weight so they have to hang and lay across the shoulders and droop straight down. Where the lower part of the braid hangs over the shoulder I hollowed out the sleeve of the warshirt so the braid dips a little inside. This helps to get things to fit snuggly. Also, do only one braid at a time and when you're ready to glue them in place do one side and let it dry completely before proceeding to glue the other. You will see in the photos where I used those innertube strips to lock the braids tight against the body so there is no space showing.
In burning the beaded areas just use a crosshatch pattern with your burner. I realize that beads are round where the crosshatches are square but what we're after here is the texture not necessarily exact detail. Once it's painted it will look good. Trust me! Once I can decide on a pattern for the shield I'll burn that detail in.
We're beyond the hard part now. Ahead lies only fun!!!
Photos in the gallery!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

War Bonnet-Part 4 The Shield & Lance

While before we had just a figure, now, with the addition of the shield and lance we have a figure doing something. To me that's what makes a really interesting carving. Also, with the design we'll paint on the shield and the feathers hanging from both the shield and lance it will knock the viewers socks off!!
First, to help you do your research go over to that search bar on the right and search out some photos of shields and lances. I like the trade cloth draped look. That cloth will be painted red which is a great background to the black and white feathers that will come later. For the lance I'm going to repeat a technique I tried on a smaller bust to indicate fur so I've put a fur wrap on there. Feathers will be hanging from there too. Another great source for reference is to go to This is one of the most fantastic stores I've ever been in. It's in Rapid City, South Dakota. If you're ever in that area take my advice and stop in. It's right in the middle of downtown. While you're on their site request a catalog. It's free and filled with great photos of native american dress, weapons, just about anything associated with plains indians. It's also a great source for books and costume supplies.
In the next post we'll add the braids and the bonnet tassels.

Lots of photos after the jump to the gallery.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Warbonnet-Part 3

That's not the best photo but it should give you an idea of my progress so far. With this post I start to get into the detail of the figure. I've decided to due a bust vs. a complete figure. I've also decided to make this my last large figure as it is too big to comfortably carve with the knives I use. It's chisel territory and I'm no chiseler!

I really hope that before you start any of the details of the various pieces of costume on this piece you will take a moment and do the research to learn just what they're about.

Lots of photos after the jump to the gallery.