Hobos have a nostalgic appeal of an earlier time when itinerant labors traveled the country looking for work. Their clothes were torn, tattered and well worn while their faces were road mapped with heavy road weary lines of a hard way of life. The Four Hobos in the picture on the left are carved caricatures whose names are left to right: Suds Larry, Soup Bone, Gunny Sack and Sulky Sal.
In spite of it all there was something romantic about these knights of the road that gave a wanderlust appearance of an easy go lucky way of life while there was none in reality.
A Hobo would travel looking for work while a Tramp simply traveled not looking for work and a Bum would neither travel nor look for work possessing only a hard luck story to con easy money. The Hobo was the “common stiff” who was somebody’s friend, acquaintance or relative who showed up from time to time of itinerant travels following news of the next job.
These four photographs are of four views of the tell tale characteristics that indicate through the condition of the clothing that these carved caricatures are hobos. Notice that toes are sticking out of the front of a shoe and that there are patches on the knees and elbows along with torn clothing at the shoulders, knees and elbows. Clothing is also dishelved revealing that hobos slept in their clothes. Each hobo is carrying a “bindle” bag either as a red bandanna or a gunny sack to carry their “goods and necessities.”
The photograph journal that follows that will feature each hobo in an unpainted and then painted version of these carved caricatures. Soup Bone and Gunny Sack were carved out of a four inch tall by and inch and half square block of basswood. Sulky Sal is four and half inches tall while Suds Larry is five inches tall. All demonstrate how the Rule of Three for body proportions can fit any size block of wood. All were carved using only a knife in the Whittle-Carving style and painted using artist oil paints and boiled linseed oil followed by a coat of Deft brushing lacquer. Study and compare each hobo with the others to imagine how each was carved to showcase the characteristics of a hobo.