I was driving to Greenville,SC Friday morning to teach a beginning class at the Woodcraft store there, when I had an “aha” inspiration. As I was leaving my house, my sweet husband, Stephen, handed me a Camelia off our tree that is in our yard. This Camelia was sitting on the dashboard of the car, and I was admiring this stunning work of God’s creation. About an hour into my drive, I thought “what a wonderful thing to carve”. So I decided to completely change my plans and make carving the Camelia flower the project for the class.
It was a wonderful project, and everyone did great – as you can see by the photograph of the happy smiling faces of accomplishment! Many of the students had never picked up a carving chisel before. The really neat thing about this project is that it really is pretty complex, with the overlapping petals and leaves, etc. But by going at it in a methodical process, it really makes a lot of sense. And once you can carve this, you can carve roses, or any other more detailed flower. It is just understanding the step-by-step process. Here is a very quick synopsis. It is so difficult to show by words – much easier to show by example.
Transfer all lines (even shading lines) onto wood with carbon paper
#1: Carve around the outside of the design (leaving the line) with a v-chisel to the depth you are going with the background.
#2: With curved gouges that fit the outside edges of the design, make vertical stop cuts along the line.
#3: With a #3, 14mm lower down the background down to a flat surface, up to the edge of the design. Get the edge of the flower as clean as possible.
NOTE: if you want to make the depth lower, just go through this process again
#4: With a v-chisel, cut on the outside of the flower (area where the leaf and flower meet) to separate the leaf and flower. Make a vertical cut along the edge of the flower at this point to create a clean edge on the outside of the flower
#5: With a #3, 14mm, round over the leaf so that it appears to go under the flower. Round over the outside of the leaf so it gives the entire leaf a gentle curved appearance.
#6: With a v-chisel, make a curved line down the center of the leaf (the more curved this line is, the more of a 3-dimensional appearance).
#7: With a #3, 6mm round over the leaf towards this center vein to give it a little more shape. Make smaller v-cuts to make the smaller vein lines
#8: With a #3, 6mm soften and clean up the outside edges of the leaf
#9: With a v-chisel, make a cut around the outside edges of all of the interior flower petals, starting from the center of the flower. It would be a good time here to make sure you are understanding what petals are going under what by shading the areas that are tucking under (these lines should have been transfered when copying the original drawing).
#10 With curved gouges that fit the profiles of the individual petals, make vertical cuts along all edges
#11: With curved gouges, start to carve down the petals that tuck under, starting from the center of the flower
#12: With #3, 12mm and #3, 6mm round over outside edges of petals to give each of the petals a gentle curve
NOTE: it is a good idea to go around all edges with the #3,6mm to just make a very slight 45 degree angle just to clean up any rough edges, and also to remove any marks from the carbon paper. It creates a nice shadow edge.
#13: Last, but not least, at the outside edges of the petals carve a few little v-notches that show a little extra wrinkle at the edge