Survivor Students – Ashland, Kentucky

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Survivor Students

ASHLAND AREA WOODCARVERSA two day class in Whittle-Carving was held August 7 and 8, 2010 at the Ashland Area Woodcarvers meeting location in the Steelworkers Hall.  Twelve members of the club participated in the class of learning to carve using only a knife.  Pictured in the photographs are left of  club sign, Gina Woods and right of the  club sign is Jeff Reihs.  In the middle row are left to right: Pat Ramey, Allen Woods, Rick Eskins and Henry Ramey.  In the back row are left to right: Roy Prince, Ed Brown, Jerry Prince, Guy Purcell, Butch Myers and Charlie Brown.

A class in Whittle-Carving stresses using a “slicing cut” as being the most efficient and cleanest cut in the carving process by using as much of the cutting edge of the knife blade whenever possible.  In order to introduce this concept the first exercise is to carve a round ball on the end of a square block of basswood.  The emphasis stresses to begin “thinking inside the block,” of envisioning a ball within a square and with a combination of slicing notch cuts begin to shape the square into a ball.  The simplest definition for carving is to shape a piece of wood with a cutting tool by rounding square corners and  flattening round surfaces.


Removing the corners of the four sides of a square block creates an octagon shape on each side of the square.  Continuing to slice off the corners of the octagons and subsequent corners a round ball will be carved.  This round ball exercise not only teaches slicing cuts, notch cuts, cutting with the grain but also becomes a demonstration for learning to position the direction and motion of the human head to be carved within a larger mass of wood. Center lines are drawn indicating the direction in which the head will be looking when it is to be carved as well as looking up or down.  The sides of the ball are sliced thinner to visualize that the human face is two thirds the width of the head’s length.

CHARLIE BROWN Next the angles and planes of the face are sliced off the ball to create a shadow form of the human face.  Using the Rule of Three for Facial Proportions, the face is divided into:  hairline to eyebrow is a third, eyebrow to bottom of nose is a third and bottom of nose to bottom of chin is a third. These three divisions were drawn  on the basic form of a face newly carved on the ball.

The next exercise considered opening up a block for a human figure by first removing the corners into a dowel shape and then carving a hat to basic form.  Then the form of a head was carved as going up into the hat.  This exercise was followed by using a pyramid shaped block of wood to carve the ball of the nose, nostrils, smile line and then a mouth following the ninety degree angle of the pyramid.  Notch cuts were made under the eyebrow so that later eyes could b added to this pyramid practice block.


“Thinking in the block” stresses carving to basic form to lay a good foundation to receive the carving of the details.  It is like baking a cake in that icing is placed on the cake after it has been fully baked and cooled enough to receive the icing.  Carving in the details is putting icing on the carved form.  Putting icing on a half baked cake ruins both cake and icing and carving details before the proper form is established ruins the carving.


The purpose of the Whittle-Carving class is to teach the “how-to methods”so that each student can create their own style rather than trying to emulate the teacher’s style.  The teacher’s carvings were used as go-bys and examples for each student to begin a project of carving a three inch tall bust and a six inch tall human figure.  The student learned that after the hat and head are carved to basic form for the full figure, then the rest of the block of wood was divided using the Rule of Three of Body Proportions to lay in the design of the figure.  Rule of Three for Body Proportions are: shoulders to waist is a third, waist to mid-knees is a third and mid-knees to bottom of feet is a third.


Students learned that if one learns the basics of facial and body proportions and  to carve to the basic form or shadow shape that these lessons can be applied to any figure.  All figures start out the same while it is the outfit and accessories that gives the carving its character as in “clothes do  make the man” saying.

Survivor students learned several new approaches to carving being encouraged to relax, enjoy the journey of carving and practice every day with a twenty minute workout.  The hardest part of any project is getting started, but once begun creative imagination takes over and the joy of carving begins again.

The Ashland Area Woodcarvers meet every Thursday 5:00 to 7:00 at the Ashland Steelworkers Hall in Ashland, Kentucky.  www.aawc.net is their web site for more information as they welcome any interested in carving to visit one of their meetings.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 8:15 pm and is filed under Survivor Students. 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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