Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Survivor Students

Paris class

Nine carving students survived a three-day class on the “A – B – C’s of Face Carving” in the wood shop of Ken Taylor in Paris, KY., on April 26, 27 and 28. Pictured in the photo above are (left to right on first row) Don Powell, Joan Whitman, Randy Whisman and Jim Bounds; (second row) Harold Polus, Kenneth Taylor, Ray Copenhaver, Dick Mathy and Bryan Taylor.

Each student received a folder containing instructional material and a variety of photographic progressive steps for many of the projects.  This “knife only” class is learning to open up a block of basswood or a basswood hen egg beginning with instructional exercises on the basic slicing cuts to carve each project.  The basic slicing cuts include the “notch cut” which is two angled cuts that form a “ditch” or “trough” that will allow an opening in order to continue the shaping of the project as if doing “excavation” of the various levels of the banks of the ditch.  The next basic cut is the “three cut triangular chip cut”  to create a hole in which to continue to do excavation of the removal of wood chips in the shaping and roughing out phase of the carving project.


The exercise to illustrate and practice these two basic cuts is pictured above that include a relief carving of holly berries and holly leaves.  Berries are carved first in the shape of a square or diamond by outlining between the berries with the triangular chip cuts and notch cuts.  When the background surrounding the berries is at the desired depth, the berries are shaped by rounding off the corners of the square and diamond shapes of the berries.  The holly leaves are outlined by carving away from the outer edge of the leaves with the first slice of the first notch cut followed by the second notch slicing cut. The shaping of each holly leaf with a dished-out effect is slicing a very shallow and wide ditch type notch cut of two angled slicing cuts meeting gently in the middle of the leaf.

The second exercise is pictured in the same photo as a carving a flower in relief.  On either side of the carved flower is the numbered sequence: # 1 ~ is a diamond drawn in the center of a circle; # 2 ~ is lines drawn out from the points of the diamond and in-between the points out to the outer circle;# 3 ~ triangles are drawn where each line meets the circle; # 4 ~ notch cuts produce a ditch outlining the diamond center while three cut triangular cuts are made in each triangle; # 5 ~  each line receives the notch cuts forming a ditch  going out from the center to the outer circle; # 6 ~  has three procedures with the first being in the bottom of each ditch of the lines going out from the center to the circle a perpendicular stop cut is made followed by a slicing  concave cut along the side of the petal towards the stop cut to reduce the bank of the ditch making each petal appear to be resting under the edge of the petal next to it.  The second procedure is to form the outer edge of each petal by making a notch cutout from each triangle opening and then rounding of the petal where the two notch cuts formed a point on the end of the petal.  The final step is to round off the corners of the diamond shape in the middle to form the round center of the flower.


The next exercise expands upon the use of the notch cuts and the triangular three cuts as they relate to opening up the major landmark of the human face. An inch square by three-inch-long basswood block is marked with an inch square at the top of block and two vertical lines marked on the bottom half of the block as in first illustration.  The second illustration shows the square being rounded by first making notch cuts in the bottom corners of the square and connecting the corner notches with a notch cut across and between the corner notches.  The top of the square received slicing cuts that remove the corners and then the top edge between the corners followed by slicing off the side corners so that each face of the square and the top begin to take the shape of a stop sign.  Slicing off each of the corners of the octagon shape on each octagon will begin to round what was once a square into a ball shape.

Follow the ball illustration across to the other illustrations to see that the ball shape will have its sides  sliced away to create the basic shape of the human skull noting that the skull is turned slightly to its left.  The ball illustrates that the head acts like a ball joint in that the head can rotate from side to side, up and down, tilt to an angle, in other words it has movement.  Notice the short horizontal line at cross roads to the center line  indicates the tip of the nose. The head angles from the tip of the nose up and back toward the hair line at the top of the forehead. Likewise, the head angles down from tip of nose towards the chin as is viewed in last two heads in the progress development of these illustrations.

The bottom half of the block that begins with the two vertical lines dividing the face of the block into three equal proportions is followed by the second illustration that shows the outside proportions have been sliced away to demonstrate that the face is two thirds wide to its three thirds of length. The third illustration demonstrates the Rule of Three of facial proportions as the face has been shaped with its angles and planes with one third from Hairline to Eyebrow; one third from Eyebrow to Tip of Nose and one third from Tip of Nose to Bottom of Chin.  Notice the result of the notch cuts to form the hairline and forehead and the notch cuts under the eyebrows.

The fourth illustration shows a capital A as a visual point of reference for the angle from the bridge of the nose, down along the side of the nose to join up with the smile line which borders the barrel shape of the dental curve and the cross bar of the A being at the ridge of the mouth mound.  Above the mouth mound the denture curve angles up towards the bottom of the nose and below the mouth mound the mouth angles down towards the chin. This capital A become an imaginary guide for carving the basic shape of the face.  Notice that the eye mound has been opened up with a three-cut triangle chip on the inside corner of each eye as well as the nose nostril and smile line has been established with a three-cut triangle chip cut on either side of the nose.  The last two illustrations continue the progression of carving the face.


The next exercise to reinforce what was learned in the previous exercise was to carve a face as a relief on an oval as illustrated in the photo above.  Once again notch cuts to form a ditch were utilized to open up areas of the face along with the three cut triangles and the scooping slice cut under the eye was comparable to shaping the flower petals in a stair stepping arrangement.


The Eye Study exercise in the photo above utilizes both the three cut triangular chip cuts and the notch cuts as one way to carve an eye. This process is simple but does require the deftness of practice and so the block with the ten slanting lines are used to make a notch cut to open up each line with the right and left notch lines represent bottom of eyebrow with right and left lines to be practiced five times using the steps in the Eye Study board. Step 1 ~ Three cut Triangular cut in the inside corner of the eye mound. Step 2 ~ first cut of the notch cut under the eye angles up into the eye mound with second cut of notch angles down on face of eye mound towards the bottom of the first cut.  The result will show a ridge that looks like the upper eye lid. Step 3 ~ A small three cut triangular chip cut is made in the bottom inside corner of the eye to form the tear duct which is followed by making a light slicing stop cut under the eye lid ridge and an angled cut to the bottom of that stop cut.  A very small three cut triangular cut is made at the outside corner of the eye followed by shallow slicing or shaving cuts to round the eye ball.  Step ~ 4 is to carve a small davit for the pupil and refined shaping under the eye with small wrinkles.


These exercises prepared each student to choose carving a variety of subjects either in a basswood hen egg or a three-inch-tall basswood block.  The subjects included sea captain, troll wizard, Civil war soldier, Indian, gnome wizard, spud character, Santa Claus and Viking (to name a few) of which there were finished go-by subjects along with progressive steps of the subject and photographic example to visually study and compare while carving the project.  Next the students chose a five inch or six-inch subject to carve with subjects like a farmer holding an ear of corn, a hillbilly holding a jug of corn squeezing, a fisherman holding a big fish, a musician holding a dulcimer, a sea captain, a cowboy and a Gandalf wizard.  Each of these carving projects were “learning projects” as the instructor made repeated rounds to each student through the class periods to offer guidance, answer questions and give instructional demonstrations.

Lunch was served each day by Ken and Beverly Taylor and Bryan and Andrea Lynne Taylor along with donuts and coffee  provided each morning.  Needless to say, everyone had an enjoyable three days of carving friendship, laughter and humor shared in a relaxing atmosphere while being very serious to learn as much as possible at learning to carve using only a knife.  The instructor repeated often his instructional mantra of “Slice with the cutting edge,” ~ “One cut is not a cut to end all cuts, it is only the beginning with more cuts to follow,” ~ “Slice the baloney,” ~ “There are no mistakes, only learning experiences,” ~ “Carving is learning by doing and the more one carves the better one carves,” ~ “The hardest part of any project is getting started and once begun the creative juices will flow with a new carving project, ~ “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.”

Thanks for a good time shared carving and in carving friendship.




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