I have a very interesting job that I am working on now. There is a marble statue of the Virgin Mary with her right hand missing at the wrist. My job is to carve a hand in marble to make it look natural. Well, there are a few difficulties with this (besides the fact that carving a hand is really difficult!). I don’t have the statue at my shop. I took very rough measurements such as the shape of the wrist, and estimated the size of the hand to not make it look like a boxer’s hand.
I have decided to carve one in basswood to make sure the proportions and shape are good, and then I’ll have something exact to copy for the marble hand.
One thing that is nice about carving hands is that you have a model right in front of you. My difficulty was that the hand I am carving is a right hand and every time I tried to use my hand as a model and draw on the wood with my left hand, I got some interesting out-of-control drawings. It’s funny that I can carve with my left hand, but when I put a pencil in my left hand, it’s always a mystery what will come out.
The main thing to think about with carving hands is to not carve the details until you have all the general “planes” of the hand located. So it sort of ends up looking like a hand with a mitten on it before carving the individual fingers.
You can see the piece of marble in the photos. I have the base of the wrist shape drawn, and then a basic shape of the hand – pretty much all I had to go on. Another difficulty is that this carving is about 3/4 size of a real hand. If it were full size, I could just simply transfer sizes from my hand. Just to add a little more to the challenge!
I left the long piece of wood because clamping a small hand would have been very frustrating. I could have screwed into the bottom of the hand and held it that way, but this way was so much more convenient and strong enough to use a mallet with.
So, now I’ve carved faces & hands – now I’m ready to do a full size human!