I still continue to learn every time I pick up a carving gouge … and this time is no exception.
I recently made another video lesson for my online school. It is a much simpler Fleur-de-Lis. What is interesting about this lesson is that I ended up carving 2 of them – with the grain going in different directions in each carving. It may seem like a minor thing, but carving these 2 really shows the importance of considering grain direction before venturing into a new carving project.
As I was carving the first one (the one on the right in the photograph), the grain was going along the length of the wood. I really wasn’t thinking much about it as I was preparing the blank from a piece of basswood – simply cutting a square piece of wood. I positioned the design so the points would fit into the corners – therefore the grain is running at a 45 degree angle to the design. Well, I discovered (while I was filming the video) that there were some real frustrating sections in working with the grain – mostly because with a symmetrical design, you SHOULD be able to carve symmetrically also. In other words, when I make a cut on one side, I should simply be able to make the same cut on the other side, only in reverse movements. Not so with the way it was positioned on the wood. I was having to really think through the grain direction on each individual cut – nothing was obvious.
So I decided to carve a second one to show how much easier it would be if the grain was better positioned so that it went at a diagonal along the edge of the wood, but symmetrical to the design (in the photograph above, the carving on the left has the grain going vertical). Every cut could be repeated on the other side – in reverse. SO much easier, SO much cleaner, SO much more predictable.
Now, after carving for nearly 23 years, this should have been automatic, correct? Well, it was simply something I didn’t really consider until I started carving this. The wood was convenient (square piece of wood), I wanted to carve a fleur-de-lis, so just start carving… right?
As I think about this, most of the time when I carve symmetrical designs, they are automatically positioned along the grain. With this design being fitted so the points meet in the corner of the wood, it turned the carving at a 45 degree angle and really caused my brain to turn inside out for a while.
So this video shows both techniques. It shows how to carve it if you don’t plan ahead (like me) and how to make life much simpler by considering the position of the carving in relation to the grain.
Like I said – I learn every day. When I stop learning, I think I’ll stop carving…