A block of basswood awaits the sharp cutting edge of carving tools to open its potential of a carving project. A New Year awaits with untold carving potential for any carver to put carving tools to the wood to carve new projects. A block of wood holds a secret awaiting to be revealed by carving away wood surrounding the secret. The carver’s mind holds a secret of creativity that awaits being revealed during the carving process. The only way each secret will come to life is for the carver to carve rather than just dreaming of carving. A Carveful New Year is to look to the new year as an invitation and opportunity to experience a year FULL of Carving.
Long it has been my philosophy that “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.” This means that the only way we learn to carve is by carving, the only way we improve in carving is to carve and the only way we become carvers is by carving. Thus carvers are always learning, growing, becoming and most especially, discovering the secret with themselves.
“The hardest part of any project is getting started,” is what all carvers experience. Yet in that experience once the carving process begins one is amazed with the partnership of creativity and ability joining together to guide the carving idea through the hand guiding the carving tool. The key is to simply “get started” to experience again the wonder of carving and revealing a secret.
As an aid to the “getting started” process I have suggested that carvers consider the Twenty Minute Workout each day. The more one carves the better one becomes and the more one carves new opportunities take the carver beyond what one expected possible. The Twenty Minute Workout of simply putting the carving tool to a piece of wood to get the feel of the actual carving process and become familiar with what all a particular carving tool can do. The dexterity of mind, heart and hand working together makes the carver comfortable for entering into a full blown carving project. The more one does something the better one should become at doing it. Carving eyes is made easier by practice carving eyes over and over again until it becomes second nature. A Twenty Minute Workout of carving eyes would be beneficial. Sharpening is made a little easier by the same kind of practice if only for twenty minutes at a time. The same can be said for any other aspect of the carving experience by investing twenty minutes a day to any knotty carving activity. Once begun, many a twenty minutes will become a longer period of enjoyable time at learning to do what one has wanted to do all along but just could not get started. Many a carver has lamented, “I wish I had started carving earlier in life.” Well, “today is the first day of the rest of your life,” so get started.
Every carving project is a learning experience. Even though so called “mistakes” happen, yet mistakes are really learning experiences. Every piece of wood is a practice block that often becomes better than what it first appeared during the carving process. At some point in almost every carving project there is a feeling that the carving project will not amount to anything. Continuing to carve beyond that feeling results in a better than expected project – so keep carving.
Relax enough during the carving and learning experiences to allow the secret of creativity within one’s subconscious to lead the way. Like the saying from Star Wars movies, “May the force be with you, “ let the “force of creative subconsciousness” lead into serendipity learning experience. As an example, the carving project is carving a Santa ornament and while carving one learns that by making a particular cut one particular way, the carving looks better. Remember that cut and procedure and instead of being satisfied with the one completed Santa ornament, carve another and then another. With each new Santa ornament the same learning experience will take place in a different way resulting in improved Santa carvings and an improved carver.
Carving the familiar over and over improves each carving but do not be content with just carving Santa ornaments. Carve a different subject that presents a challenge and a stretch to one’s carving ability. Relax and remember that each carving project is a practice piece, a learning experience and an exercise of letting creativity guide ability into a place one has never been to before but always wanted to visit. Don’t stop there with one accomplishment for the whole joy of carving is beginning a new, challenging and growing project. As I have often said, “Woodcarving is more the journey than the destination,” in that it is what we experience while carving on the journey that is the fun part. A completed carving is nice, but it is the journey that we want to embark upon again and again.
Along this Journey of Woodcarving we meet and learn from fellow travelers. Besides books, magazines and Internet sites dedicated to woodcarving, the better part of the journey is to associate with other wood carvers. Participating in a woodcarving club, be it a formal gathering or a few fellow carvers carving together, is a good way to grow in the carving experience. Taking a woodcarving class or seminar provides an opportunity to learn from a respected instructor as well as from fellow students. Attending woodcarving shows is a great way to expand one’s horizon of the carving world. But an even greater way is to be a participant in a carving show by displaying one’s carvings and by entering into competition. The interaction of show exhibitors and visitors alike becomes the icing on the cake of the carving experience. Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot just by watching,” but any carver can “observe a lot more by participating.”
One carver and good friend I met along the journey of Woodcarving is Michael Keller of White Eagle Studios in Washington State. We have never met face to face, only through the Internet and yet there is a bond of kinship discovered in our common experience of woodcarving. He is an accomplished carver and a polished wordsmith who has a way with words as is evidenced by visiting his web log http://whiteeaglestudios.wordpress.com/ . He coined the word “CARVEFUL” with such sayings as “Stay Sharp and Be Carveful” and “Carvefully yours.” To which I add “HAVE A CARVEFUL NEW YEAR!”