Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects

Carving “LOU” the Cat was an exercise in carving outside the comfort zone. Woodcarving is a learn by doing process making every carving project a learning experience and a practice carving. Carving a project that is outside the carver’s comfort zone is especially a stretch in the learning process.

The WOOD BEE CARVER is primarily a knife carver who normally carves human faces and figures in the caricature style of Whittle-Carving.  However, on occasion a project will be chosen that utilizes traditional carving gouges as well as knives along with a subject that is outside the comfort zone of carving the familiar. Carving LOU, the cat for a great niece’s 16th birthday was the occasion to launch into to unknown of carving an animal in the form of a cat.  This required studying various photos of cats to create a mental picture that would help in the carving process.

The photos below are the before and after progressive development of the basic form through the completed detailed carving.

A basswood block (nine inches by six inches by four inches) was chosen upon which a sketch of a sitting cat was drawn on the sides of the block to guide the beginning stages of shaping the basic form.  Using the age-old simple explanation for carving from a block that says, “Carve away all the wood that does not look like a cat.”  This method allows for a slow and deliberate removing of wood to allow the basic form of the cat to begin to take shape.  This slow method allows for the form to develop as the mental picture in the mind guides the carving tools (gouges and knives) to gradually allow the form to take shape. 

The photos below are of the unstained and stained coloration of the same poses of LOU.

The next series of photographs are of the finished carving at various angles for a visual tour of LOU.

Carving is at its best when and while the contemplative imagination guides the shaping of the subject to come into view.  It may be slow but “haste makes waste” and rushing the creative process while it is being developed often will create a less than desired result.  And, after all, every carving project is a learning process, so allow the learning to learn at a learn-able pace.

The final two photographs show three of the knives and three of the Everett Cutsinger gouges that were used in the final shaping and detailing of LOU.

LOU was colored in a two-part staining process that used artist old paint Raw Sienna for the overall coloring and artist oil White for the chest, paws and tip of tail. The oil paint was thinned with boiled linseed oil with the finish topical application of Deft brushing lacquer.

Lessons were learned in carving a cat for the first time in the challenge of carving outside the comfort zone of the familiar.  The main lesson is the advantage of stretching one’s imagination and ability to try something new because in the end it still boils down to “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 29th, 2018 at 10:02 am and is filed under Carving Projects. 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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