WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

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WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:22 am

There have been so many questions and comments on carving spirit faces recently, that I thought I'd have a go at posting a WIP on how I do it. I remember from when I was learning how a lot of WIP's were more frustrating than helpful because they didn't include all the relevant steps so I couldn't follow the project on my own. I hope I've managed to show enough steps for this to be helpful to somebody. In looking back at it I realise there could have been more steps included but there are over 30 photos in this series already! Consequently I'll probably have to do this on a few separate postings as I don't think this site will take that many photos... even when they are only links to PhotoBucket.

Ok... here we go. First photo is the polar stick I started with. Side branches have been trimmed off with a saw. The stick was cut about 2 weeks prior to carving so its still green. Can't always get away with this, but poplar seems to be pretty good at not splitting as it dries. Image

Next step is to shave the bark off. With green poplar, this is pretty easy. You could do it with a pocket knife, but I've used a drawknife here with one end of the stick in a vice.Image
ImageLots of shavings!Image

The next photo shows the shaved stick with the relative positions of the handle and the spirit face marked with a geen felt pen.
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:38 am

Next step is cutting the face planes or the angles on which the face will be carved. Image

This is probaly the MOST IMPORTANT aspect to getting a realistic looking face. You need to have the angle between the two planes at 90 degrees or less. If you don't have this angle you won't have enough mass out the front of the carving for a realistic looking nose. The larger this angle is the flatter and less dynamic the face will be. The following two shots show this finished angle from front on and from top down.
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Next we draw the rough outline of the face. Again, I've used a green marker to make it easy to see. The area above the nose I'll call the 'brow' and the area below the nose is the 'mouth area'. Both are clearly visible in the photo.
Image

The next two photos show the brow area cut out, front and side aspects are shown.
ImageImage
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:59 am

The next two photos show the top edge of the brow area refined. This is giving shape to what will eventually become the hair of our spirit face. Note the hair 'part' on the right side as you look at it. When you are carving on a stick face like this you can't part the hair in the middle as you need to run it off the side somehow to let it blend in with the stick. Centre parts are ok if you carve at the end of the stick but part way down the shaft, they don't work.
ImageImage

Next remove the material under the nose. You will note that the bottom of the nose has the nostril planes elevated a little. This is in preparation of cutting the nostrils later. You need to have the sides of the nose higher than the center of the nose. If you don't believe me... look in the mirror. :D The next three photos show this from 3 different directions.
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Now we're ready to draw the outline of our spirit face on the 'platform' we have just created for it. I'll say it again... creating this deep 3 dimentional platform is essential to getting a realistic looking face. Too many beginners try to carve the face straight onto a flat or only slightly rounded surface and the results are always less than they could be in my opinion. The next photo shows the spirit face outlines drawn on in black ink for easy visibility.
Image
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:38 am

The next photo shows the eye sockets. I used a 11/10 gouge for this. Up to now all I've used is a pocket knife (except a draw knife to strip the bark). I use a knife about 90% of the time. I'll tell you if I use a chisel... otherwise take it for granted that its a knife.
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The next couple of photos show the face outline cut out.
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This photo shows further face outline refinement. Note the nose is now shaped and the nostrils are cut. The forehead has more shape and the cheeks have been 'hollowed' a bit to make him look a bit more 'worn'. The outline for the eyes has been drawn in.
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I was hoping to document more detail on how the eye is carved. Unfortunately, I didn't have anyone to take the photos for me, and trying to hold onto the stick, the knife and take a photo all at once, proved a bit beyond me. After almost dropping the stick, knife and camera, I had to settle for photographing the result of each step. The next 3 photos show the left (as you look at it) eye being cut.
ImageImageImage
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:48 am

And now the other eye...
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And finally some eye refinement. The lower lid, eye brows and bags under the eyes were cut with a 12/6 V tool.
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Here we can see more progress. The irises have been cut, the stick has been sanded, including shaping the handle which is partially visible above the carving. The cutting of the hair has begun. The hair and beard were cut with a 11/4 gouge. The irises were drilled with a 2.5mm twist drill.
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These next two photos show the carving complete including the beard which curls down the shaft for about 30 cm.
ImageImage
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:58 am

We're getting near the end now... Still with me? :D These last shots show the stick completed. The whole stick, including the carving was rubbed down with 0000 steel wool and then a clean cloth, then oiled. I used grape seed oil because it has no smell and doesn't 'clag' up over time. There are other oils which probably work better but due to some alergys in the family, they are not available to me. After hanging overnight, I rubbed the stick down again with steel wool and a clean rag and then applied a coat of bees wax mixed with olive oil, alowed it to dry and buffed it off.

Finally the end of the handle was bored out with a 25mm Forstner bit and a compass fitted. Then the handle was wrapped with Kagaroo leather thong. The wrapping technique leaves a bit hanging down the bottom of the handle at the back. You can cut this off or, as I did in this case, thread some beads or other ornaments and leave them hanging.
ImageImageImage

Well, thats it. Hope you liked it. It was a lot of work getting it all photographed, written up etc. but if it helps people learn stuff its worth it. How about a few more of you experienced guys doing a WIP or two each? That way we all get a chance to learn a bit from each other.
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Claude » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:30 am

Nice set of step-by-step photos and comments! Thanks for showing it.

Claude
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Ron T » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:49 pm

Where were you when I was struggling to learn. Oh well, this is really going to help the new carvers. Thank you for doing this tutorial.
"Just do the best you can everyday." Ron T.
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby ltldragn » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:33 am

Great tutorial, Love the face and the step by step photos. I really like the compass at the top also , nice touch.
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby JoeB » Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:17 pm

This is great, I'm curious, is the leather attached to the stick like a hangman's noose is tied. . .JoeB
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:41 pm

The leather thong is wrapped around a trailing loop until the end can be pushed into the loop and the whole thing pulled tight from the bottom. It is similar to hangman's knot except there is a piece of wood in the middle of the wrap where the hangman's noose has no center wood shaft. I've done a tutorial on wrapping handles. I can't remember if it was on this site or not but look through the articles in the past and I'm sure there will be something. If all else fails, I'll post one.
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby JoeB » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:20 pm

Thank you Sir···I use to sit (set) in English class a tie hangman's nooses with the curtain cords :wink: good student. . .JoeB
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Tupelo » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:28 am

That is a mighty handsome walking stick you made. I've never carved Poplar, I don't think i have ever seen one growing in my neck of the woods.

Great job on the tutorial!

Roy
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Re: WIP carving a spirit face in a walking stick

Postby Whittling » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:34 pm

Thanks Roy. Poplar is limited in the amount of fine detail you can get into it. It can tend to be a bit fragile with fine detail like eyelids etc. but if you learn to stay within its scope and pick suitable pattens, it is a good wood for carving. Another reason I use it for staves is it's weight... very light weight means easier to carry. They are quite strong if you stay at 2 1/2 inches or more in diameter. Finally, even though they are not native to Australia, there are plenty of them around here. In fact local council authorities regard them as a weed so cutting them is almost never an issue. Lots of free material... :D
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