A question has come to me:
“What is the key to not breaking off sensitive parts to a carving?
I am carving an acanthus leaf and have had some trouble w/ the small tips of the foliage.
It seems to me that if you set in 1/16″ – 1/8″ from the design completely down to the ground, a less likely chance of breakage occurrs.
If you try to follow the design too high up & exactly along the penciled lines w/o (1) leaving the area around the design and (2) going to the ground, that is where your problems occur.”
That wonderful v-chisel! I would say that in 90% of my relief carving I first go around the design (just outside the acanthus edge) with a v-chisel – nearly to the depth that you will be carving the background to.
Next, I would take whatever gouges fit the outside edge of the leaf and make a vertical edge cut to define this edge (setting in). By making the v-cut first, it relieves a lot of the pressure on the wood when those vertical cuts are made. The wood gives towards the v-cut and does not put pressure on the leaf part – the part where you want to save those fragile little leaf corners.
I know a lot of people – professional carvers – go right into making these stop cuts (setting in cuts), but I have broken off too many pieces that are pretty critical in the design. I’d rather be safe than sorry, and an extra step of a v-cut is well worth it.
If all else fails, GLUE!