SURVIVOR STUDENTS ~ International Woodcarvers Congress

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Survivor Students


Twelve students gathered together on June 9, 2014 to begin a five day class in Whittle-Carving at Maquoketa, Iowa during the International Woodcarvers Congress competition and show. The students pictured above are (left to right – first row) Laura Reich, Don Mertz, Diane Guntzel, Charlie Arnold; (second row) Jim Hecker, Marc Featherly, Martin Linzy, Ted Lauf, Fritz Seybold, (third row) David Abler, Elmer Marting, Rodney Manthey, and David Meyer

The class centered on the A, B, C’s of Face Carving using only a knife.  Various exercises began the first day of learning the basic slicing cuts to carve notched troughs, three cut triangular openings and slice and roll cuts to shape a block of basswood in opening up the basic landmarks of the human face. One exercise carved a ball out of square by rounding the corners of each square into a stop sign shape on each side and top of the one inch square area.  This was followed by continuing to remove the corners of the stop sign until a ball was formed.


( photos left to right: Mertz with Hecker, Mertz with Linzy, Mertz with Lauf, Mertz with Marting)

The second exercise consisted of shaping an inch and half tall by inch square block of basswood into the facial proportions of a face with angles and planes of the face for each of the three proportional area of the face.  The Rule of Three of Facial Proportions were followed with the three divisions of the length of the face being Hairline to Eyebrows; Eyebrows to Bottom of Nose; and Bottom of Nose to Bottom of Chin. The width of the face is two thirds wide while the length of face is three thirds.  Within  this good foundation of proper form of face carved, the details of the eyes, nose, mouth and ears can be carved.


(photos left to right: Mertz with Reich, Mertz with Guntzel, Mertz with Arnold, Mertz with Abler)

The next exercise consisted of carving a thin rectangular block into an oval into which the major landmarks of the face were opened up with the aid of utilizing the various slicing cuts used in carving a flower in relief. The practice face carved in the oval was a relief face to continue to learn facial carving in various formats.


(photos left to right: Mertz with Manthey, Mertz with Seybold, Mertz with Meyer, and Featherly)

All of the first day exercises prepared each student for the actual carving of faces in a variety of formats. The second day students carved a face using a basswood hen egg using the instructors carved go-by examples as a guide for their own project.  The instructor carved on an egg with each student to demonstrate the progressive steps for their own individual project.  The third day the project was to carve a bust or shelf squatter out of a three inch tall by inch and half square block of basswood using a go-by example provided by instructor as an example with the guidance of the instructor’s demonstrations for each student in one-to-one sessions.  The fourth and fifth days the project was to carve a five or six inch tall full figure using go-by examples. (Readers of this blog may want to read the postings under the heading BEE HIVE in the box to the right of this posting which contain the instructional material covered in the class.)


Student Diane Guntzel shows an object lesson she used with her fifth grade students that amazed us all as she showed how to balance a dozen nails on the head of a spike nail.  Student Jim Hecker showed his creation of “Whittling a Shorty” for the class to see another style of carving only with a knife.

The relaxed camaraderie of friendly conversations aided in the learning process even though the carving activity was intense because of learning to carve only with a knife.  Each student learned a new appreciation for being able to see in one’s imagination a face taking shape within a block of wood as well as appreciating that one can carve using only a knife to carve a face in wood.   After five days of Whittle-Carving  each student survived to carve another day on the journey of carving.

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