Friday, July 25, 2008

Santiago...Up For Auction!!!

I just knew it was going to happen. Santiago was picked up by the Border Patrol just west of El Paso while trying to
smuggle over another dozen undocumented aliens. The Judge says if he can round up some dinero by next Friday he'll release him under house arrest so here's your chance to help this poor unfortunate and at the same time add a nice little carving to your collection.
The Auction is over with a winning bid of $200.00. I appreciate all the interest this little experiment generated and down the line just might do it again.
Since I posted the photo above I added a little more value to the piece by giving the fella a gold earring and a nameplate.
Thanks again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photographing Your Carvings

I've been asked on a number of occasions what type of set-up I use when photographing my carvings so here are my secrets and what you'll need to do something similar.
As you can see by the photo I use three lights which I can move around for the best effects. These lights are just the common clip-on reflectors you can pick up at WalMart for a few bucks. I mounted them on 1-1/2" PVC pipe stuck in some flat plywood squares. You'll note if you enlarge the photo the two front lights are labeled "Warm" and "Cool" This helps me balance the lighting. That third light in the back is also a "Warm" light and is used to give the piece being photographed some backlighting. The backgrounds I use are usually just a piece of colored Posterboard, in this case Forest Green. There is a roll of Studio Paper behind the posterboard in case I have to photograph something too large for the smaller board. Another thing that is critical is the tripod. You just have to have one of these to get good clear photos.
In this photo is the 10" cloth diffuser I put over each reflector. These are available at a photo shop for around $10. They break up the light so most of the shadows are eliminated. To keep them away from the bulb I made a 3" extension ring out of some aluminum flashing. The large light is also available at a photo shop. It costs about $25 and is really worth the cost as it's your main light. It's the one labeled "Cool" as it gives a nice cold light. The smaller one is just a 60 watt bulb I picked up from WalMart. This is also the bulb used in the third light.
Here's a photo of the extension ring. I just cut a strip of flashing about 4" wide, folded over the edges, bent it around the light and then use some screws to hold it together.
Finally, I made some stands to set the piece on when it's being photographed. The large one is just a piece of paneling with a 1-1/2" wooden dowel painted flat black and a small circle of paneling with a piece of inner-tube glued on to keep the piece from slipping. The coffee can just raised this platform up to where the table is hidden. The little ring is a piece of PVC pipe painted flat black that I use for my Bottle Stoppers. I set it on top of the larger platform.
When taking a photo make sure you position your carving at least a couple of feet from the background. This makes the background out of focus when you take your picture. I turn off my flash as it's not needed with the lights. Move your front lights far enough back from your carving so you don't get too much light. After you take a few you'll figure out just where to put the lights for the best effects. Once the photo is taken you can photoshop the stand out of the picture and you carving will look like it's floating in space.
My camera is a Nikon D70 with a 18-70mm lens. I've used my wife's Canon Powershot A80 with good results so you should get some nice photos no matter what camera you use.
I hope this answers your questions. If not just drop me a note.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I carved this one yesterday at our weekly carving session down at the Community Center. I had started him as a demonstration piece during my short seminar at the Tulsa show.
His name is Santiago. He's the worthless brother of Pancho who, when not running illegals across the border, spends his time hanging out at the local Cantina downing shots of Pulque, sucking on cheap cheroots while planning his next unlawful escapade. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will meet a sad and probably violent end.
I carved Pancho's sombrero with the front turned up so I thought I'd do Santiago's with the back turned up and tipped toward the front to give him more of a "up to no good" look. I think it accomplishes that. Anyway, I hope you like him even though he's probably planning on a way to cheat you out of a few more pesos.

Several more photos in the gallery and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Indian Bottle Stopper - Finished

Finally got this warrior painted this morning. Turned out real well. I just love painting these guys. I have a habit of repeating beading patterns but thats okay. I tried to be a little more creative on his shirt by using a few other colors to make the buckskin a little more colorful. The background color is ....Buckskin! I then used Yellow Ochre and some Red Iron Oxide to highlight it. Finally, I used Midnight Blue to paint the top half of the shirt.
If you want to know why I think my colors flow together so well is that I paint the figure just as it would be painted in real life. By that I mean I paint the entire face or shirt with the correct colors as though I wasn't going to add any additional colors. By painting the Blue over the top of the Buckskin it allows that lower color to influence the upper ones just as it would in real life. Same goes for the face. A good example of that is when I paint a Negro. I paint him as a white person so he has the same colors and then color over that with dark umber. If I had only painted the umber the flesh would look flat and lifeless.
Anyway, hope you like him!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indian Bottle Stopper

Here's a new bottle stopper I just finish carving this morning. I'm doing a little extra on this one to hopefully cover for a mistake I made at a recent carving show. Seems when I came back to my table from the Whittling Contest I found that my wife had sold a stopper I had promised to someone else. hopefully make up for it I'm making this one a little more involved than normal. I think it looks pretty neat.
More photos in the blog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Patriot

I thought I had posted this carving earlier but after checking I found I haven't. I did this a couple years ago for the Daughter's of the American Revolution. It was raffled off at the end of the conference year. I think it was one of the best I've ever done.
Anyway, here her is ready to protect our country.

Carving A Relaxed Hand

A lot of carvers have ask me to demonstrate how to carve hands so I thought we'd start with a simple relaxed one that comes in handy for all sorts of applications. As you can see by the photo he's holding a pot of beans in one hand and a spoon in the other. He could just as well be holding a lasso or his hat, an ax, a shovel, a branding iron, you name it this hand will do it.
When I carve hands I think of the hand's shape as a series of interlocking planes, i.e., the first set of knuckles, the second set and then the last set. The thumb, while seperate from the others is still made up from three joints and in this example rests on top of the first finger. The palm of the hand can be defined with just three surfaces, i.e., the thumbs first joint, the pad of the hand and the soft area directly below the fingers. Just flex you palm a bit and you'll see those three forms.

Now here is a picture of those same hands in another situation. Same hands just holding different objects, in this case a powder horn and a flintlock rifle. Like I said earlier, learn to carve this one and you'll be using it over and over.
When laying out the hand make sure you orient the grain with the direction of the thumb. If that means doing the hand as an attachment that's okay, the important thing is to make sure that the hand is as strong as possible. The ends of the fingers will be supported by each other and normally turned inward toward the body for protection. That thumb though is out there on it's own and can easily snap off if not done correctly.
So, let me show you how easy it is to carve one of these.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tulsa Show Report

Just returned home from the Tulsa Woodcarving Show and thought I'd give a short report on how my carvings did in the competition. "Granny Gets A Tattoo" took First in the Caricature Group category, "Warbonnet" a First in Realistic Bust, and "The Rough Rider" a First in Single Figure Caricature. My short seminar on carving a Bottle Stopper went off well, and I even managed a 3rd place showing in thewhittling contest. They had precut dog blanks which unfortunately had the grain orientated the wrong way which made it extremely difficult to carve. Also, for some reason, they seemed to be a little too insistant requiring that the dog be a male with anatomically correct features!!! Poor me....I concentrated on carving the overall dog more than I did the animals genitalia so was penalized(?) by it's absence. Oh well......I guess I can be thankful that we didn't carve a human!
The show was a little down from last year and attendance seemed off too. Even with that it was good to see old friends make some new ones. Now, as our next show is not until the one in Dayton in November we have the whole summer off to mow grass, clear brush, ride horses, spoil Grandkids and maybe even carve a few new figures.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Now I'd say this guy was the ultimate Flip-Flopper! I just figured the way he's been flopping around the floor like a fish out of water by the time November rolls around he'll be turned so far that he will no doubt vote Republican! Now, that's my kind of Democrat!
This was a real quicky .... having whipped him out in two hours at last Tuesday's carve-in with the fellas down at the community center. The hardest part was coming up with something to make it really funny. Hopefully the botton will do that.
There are some other views in the Gallery. As always, vote Republican and comments are welcome too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


You're probably sick of looking at Batman and want to get back to the really important stuff like Gus from Lonesome Dove. This guy has been staring at me every day for the past two months so I thought I'd better finish him before he slams my head into the bartop like he did that sassy barkeep. I had hoped to do him as a complete figure but just couldn't get that interested. Maybe someday. Anyway, hope you like him. More photos in the Gallery section.