Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects, Tutorials

Gandalf , the wizard of Lord of the Rings  fame, was carved using a Signature Series knife made by Helvie Knives   as per my design.  This particular knife is called a Universal Scimitar or U-2 in the Helvie Signature Series  catalog of knives (click on “Helvie Knives” under “Cool Links” to get to their web site catalog).  It is called “Universal” in that it can be used for all types of “Whittle-Carving” as both a roughing out blade (full length of blade)  and a detail blade (quarter inch of tip of blade).   The convex curve of the cutting edge allows for a slicing cut as it is pushed or pulled through the wood.  The concave shape of the back of the blade in the Scimitar blade shape allows for reaching in areas where other blade shapes cannot reach as well as provide an easy roll out of slicing cuts. The handle is a fat cigar shape that fits the palm of the hand comfortably allowing for the knife to be rotated easily so that the blade can cut upside down, right side up, sideways and in any direction needed to make a slicing cut.  The tang portion of the blade between the handle and where the cutting edge begins is extended to allow for reaching across a large area without being impeded by the end of the handle.  Also this design allows for the index finger to wrap around the tang portion of the blade when choking up on the blade for precise slicing and detail cuts. Gandalf was carved out of an inch and half square by seven inch tall block of basswood.  The finish is a combination of artist oil paints and boiled linseed oil followed with an application of Deft as a brushed on lacquer once the oil finish has dried. The design of Gandalf follows the normal images of this wizard with his grey hat, grey robe and root twisted staff with crystal ball imbedded within the roots.   A lantern was added to imply the seeking for truth and justice to balance out the magic of the crystal ball.  The head is turned towards the hand holding the lantern while the other hand holds the twisted root staff.  The robe is textured with flowing drapery folds and wrinkles to depict a sense of movement.  A portion of the hem of the robe wraps about the staff in an exaggerated manner for artist purposes more than reality. (click on photographs to enlarge) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~             The hat is carved first to its approximate size and shape to allow for the head to be carved appearing to fit into the hat.  Once the rough form of the hat and head are carved the rest of the wood and body is divided using the Rule of Three for Body Proportions:  Shoulder to Waist; Waist to Mid Knees; Mid Knees to Bottom of Feet.  Within these three divisions, guidelines are drawn for the arms, hands, lantern and staff.  These guidelines are used in carving to the basic form which is continuing to be refined as the flow of the slicing cuts adds definition of design. Once the basic form is established the refinement continues with detail carving of individual area.  For example the lantern is carved to form as a boxy form, or the hands are boxy with angled planes for where the finger will be, or the root section of the staff is a bulky mass of wood awaiting the roots to be carved with crystal ball inside the root system.                                   The waves in the hair and beard along with the flowing drapery valleys of the robe are carved using the curved cutting edge of the blade with an “ice skate cut”.  The “ice skate cut” is setting the cutting edge on the wood almost straight up while resting on the curvature of the cutting edge.  As the “ice skate cut” is skated forward at a skewed angel, twist the knife as if twisting the ankle while ice skating which will result in the small portion of the cutting edge slicing out a “gouged trough” in the wood.  This cut takes some practice which when perfected is an efficient way to add soft texture simulating a gouge cut.  See the picture of the knife blade standing upright in a drapery valley of the robe. The quarter inch tip of the Scimitar blade is used for detail carving of the roots on the staff, texturing of the hair and beard and the facial details of the eyes, nose, and wrinkles in the face.  All cuts are always in a slicing action for the most efficient use of the knife as well as creating and leaving clean cuts and burnished facets on the carved surface. The Helvie Wizard of Gandalf is a commission carving for Rich, Holli and Skylar Smithson who are owners and manufacturers of Helvie Knives  (click on “Helvie Knives” under “Cool Links to reach their web site catalog).  Rich is also the artist who wood burns and paints the Signature Series knife handles. Thanks to the Smithsons for their dedication to the carving community by providing quality carving knives as well as their generosity and friendship.


This entry was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Carving Projects, Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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