Day 1 of carving the shell niche. The inside edge of the molding that will be surrounding this shell is 24″ wide x 12″ tall. The shell will be carved 9″ deep. The difficulty here is that it is not a perfect quarter round – it is more of an elipse. There will be a center scroll design also, so as I hog out the wood at this point, I am leaving a section of wood in the center to be able to carve this detail later.
I hope to finish carving the 3 capitals tonight because tomorrow I will be starting on a new project – and a very time sensitive one. I will be carving 2 large shell niches for 2 cabinets that will be built into a wall. This is for a house in St. Louis, and I will need to complete it by September 13 – that is 3 weeks from today!
The most complex part of this project is preparing and building the dome – before any carving is done. The carving is easy compared to some of the processes of engineering that are needed to put this together. If I can figure out how, I will attach some magazine articles on several processes of how to prepare this wood. It is truly surprising how complex it is.
Because this is so time sensitive, we are going to go the simplest and quickiest route – just gluing 10 – 2 inch thick blocks together and cut out of 3 of them half circles increasing in size – just to get as much of the bulk away as possible. And then… get a 4-1/2 inch chain saw blade and hog as much out as I can. Then when it gets closer to the final size, I will start working it with gouges. I am actually going to buy some specialty gouges for this to save my nuckles from getting scratched and cut. They will be long bent and spoon bent and probably 20 to 30 mm wide, if I can find the tools. They are so large, that they will be scarce. I guess I had better get looking…
Once I get the inside of the shell smooth, and the shape of the shell accurate (it is actually an oval shape – 24″ wide x 12″ high x 9″ deep), then I can lay out the shell ribs and start carving. The bottom rib will be a beautiful scroll design – with a lovely center scroll.
Then, for the outside – just because there will be so much excess wood, I will have my wonderful husband chain saw the bulk of the wood off.
I will be picking up the first block of wood from The Mill tomorrow. John Cook at The Mill is building it, and when I asked him how much it weighed, he just laughed.
What I am working on now is carving 3 Corinthian Capitals (simplified) in mahogany. They are 1/2 capitals and they will be going on a picture frame. This is a massive frame that is being re-created by Belinda McLain of Savannah, GA. She and several team members are building and finishing this frame, and I am carving 3 capitals. I don’t know the final size, but I think I remember her saying it was 26 ft wide x 9 ft tall.
Norman Landry, a dear friend, passed away yesterday, August 20, 2011. Norman had a passion for building reproduction furniture and was deeply involved in the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (www.sapfm.org). I am not sure how far back he goes in the group, but I know that he was one of the founding members of the Houston SAPFM, and was on the executive committee for several years for the national chapter.
On a personal note, Norman was a great friend and encourager. I have to say that if it weren’t for Norman, I would not be where I am today in my teaching career. So many times Norman would just start talking to people – sometimes people he didn’t even know – and that is how I got connected to a variety of people and groups. He introduced me to Roy Underhill, helped me get my instructional DVDs on the SAPFM web site, brought me down to Houston, TX to teach several classes to the SAPFM group, and many other situations that I will probably never even know about.
Norman had an energy and an enthusiasm about life that was contagious. He was no-nonsense, down-to-earth, and a very real person. With Norman, what you see is what you get – no masks. That is very refreshing.
I remember visiting him at his workshop in Houston – a 2 car garage where he had his workbench on wheels that he rolls out into his driveway whenever he wanted to use it. One thing that really amazed me was that he had a Shopsmith – and he actually used everything on it! The shop was absolutely spotless – every tool had its own place, and was probably well oiled before it was put away. He must have cringed when he saw my shop.
Norman, we will miss you with your overalls, blue denim SAPFM shirt, and Ben Franklin pony tail and glasses.
Norman, we will miss you.