PIRATE First Mate

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects, Tutorials


The Pirate First Mate is carved in the Half Pint size of three inches tall with a one inch square base. The First Mate is wearing a bandana head wrap rather than the officer’s hat even though he is wearing an officer’s coat captured as a spoil of a sea battle.

Half Pint carved figures refer to the use of a half inch equals a foot scale to keep a carving in perspective with the average heights of a male figure as being six feet. Most of the Whittle-Carved figures carved by the Wood Bee Carver are carved out of a block of basswood six inches tall and an inch and half square or two inch square.  Thus, when carving a Half Pint, the basswood block is three inches tall by an inch square.  The Half Pint figure tends to be squatted and compressed when compared with a six inch tall figure.

This first photo gallery is of the finished carving colored with artist oil paint thinned with boiled linseed oil. Each photo will show a different angle which when combined with all the other photos will present a panoramic overall view of the pirate.





The next series of photos are progressive steps illustrating the stages of development of the First Mate Pirate. The illustration on the left of each photo is the proportional divisions divided based upon the Rule of three.  The red horizontal lines drawn at the shoulder, the waist, the knees, and the bottom of feet at the base line.  Within these horizontal lines on all four sides of the next three illustrations the major landmarks of the pirate’s body will be drawn to guide for shaping during the carving to basic form stage of the progression.  The opening cuts in illustration two is the carving of the head area into a dowel shape saving a back corner of the block for the knot and ties of the bandana to be shaped later as seen in the third illustration. A center line is drawn on top of the dowel shape to indicate the direction the head will be turned (as seen in the sixth photo in this series).  Illustration three shows the basic form of the head carved and the rest of the body major landmarks are drawn within the horizontal lines on all four sides of the block.  Illustration four shows the progression of the pirate carved to basic form that awaits the final detail carving process.  The last illustration is of the detailed and painted pirate. The sixth photo gives a top view of the top of the turned head and also the two knives used to carve the First Mate.



Progressive Steps of a carving subject are a visual aid to visualize the development from the opening cuts through steps towards a completed carving. The examples used in this tutorial also contain the proportional divisions as a guide for laying out the major landmarks of the subject.  With each Progressive Step illustration, the viewer is to study the progression of development to imagine what cuts were necessary to accomplish each step.  While being a helpful reference tool, the greater function of the Progressive Steps illustration is to help the carver to develop the ability to see a carving develop in one’s imagination. Studying a Progressive Steps illustrations, the viewer realizes that one has to read between the lines, so to speak, when following each step and allow imagination to fill in the blanks in between each step.  While these illustrations are of three inch tall figures, the same concept would apply to any size coupled with imagination.

The final series of photos are of the progressive carving the Basic Form of the First Mate using the guidelines to guide where to open up the areas to remove wood while shaping towards what will remain as the Basic Form.  The guidelines will be carved away but will guide for the general area of where the body landmarks are to be shaped by using the carver’s inner eye guiding the slicing knife to do the necessary shaping.  Study each photo with imagination of what is being done as if the views is the carver making the necessary cuts. During this “carving to basic form” one rule stands out that says, “One cut is not a cut to end all cuts, but is a beginning for more cuts to continue the shaping process.”  It is during the carving to basic form that imagination will guides in refining the design while the carving is happening. Said another way, it is “design by carving” as wood being removed will cause a shape to appear that will enhance the imagined design right before the carver’s eyes.

The last four photos are getting close to having the Basic Form ready for detail carving to finish up the process.  Ninety percent of the carving process is “carving the Basic Form” and ten percent is “carving in the final details.”



The key is to learn not to rush the process because to carve in the details before there is a proper foundation to receive the detail would be like trying to put icing on a half-baked cake. Carving in the details is the reward the carver receives for having prepared a proper foundation to receive the details. “Carving is the journey of carving more than the destination of what was carved.” Enjoy the Journey.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2023 at 2:42 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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