Posted by: woodbeecarver   in BEE Buzz

THINK INSIDE THE BLOCK can be taken one of two ways.  One is to “think inside the block HEAD,”  as in using one’s head in the carving process.  One can not carve what one does not see inside their head, inside imagination and inside creative dreaming.  The other “think inside the block,”  is to look deep into a block of wood with imagination to see the carving to be set free during the carving process.

That which is in one’s “Block Head” is all of  one’s carving experiences and desire to carve an idea that awaits to be set free.  Each carver builds upon what one has already experienced while at the same time allowing the carving process to lead into new experiences of creativity.  But that will never happen unless the carver puts the carving tool into the block of wood to begin the process of removing excess wood to set free the carving inside the block. 

A New Year is like a block of wood in that both await what we will do with what is hiding within each.  Carvers experience over and over again an undeniable law that states, “The more one carves the better one carves.”  None of us are getting any younger so if we are going to carve our niche we need to carve more often even if we do not always know what we are doing.  The magic of carving is that we learn while carving which is another way of saying,  “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.” 

“Think inside the block,”    is to carve a project inside the “block head”  by mentally carving a project by using imagination to imagine how one is going to shape a block of wood into that creative idea awaiting to be dressed up in a carved piece of wood.  Carving inside the block head is to also look at a finished carving by imagining how it was carved and what tools were used and how they were used.  Carving insdie the block head is to study photographs and images of a project to be carved so that the studying will be incised upon one’s brain so that the subject is so familiar that when the block of wood is opened up in the carving process the mental image will guide the carving process.

Thinking and carving inside the block is to learn to envision what is to be carved with the freedom of creativity to make adjustments of refinement during the carving process.  Sawed out blanks and rough outs have their place in speeding up the carving time but they  also rob the carver of seeing within the wood by being guided by imaginative thinking.   The method used for taking the initial carving idea through the various stages towards a completed carving is called, “Thinking Inside the Block.”   It is more envisioning the completed carving inside a block of wood even though this is part of thinking inside the block. 

 The carving idea is turned around and around in the mind getting a mental picture engrained in the creative process of the mind. Often this process of incubation or hatching an idea is imaging how to carve the idea out of a block of wood by removing the wood that imprisons the idea.


The carving idea has been turned over so many times in the mental carving room that it becomes a pattern within the sub conscious that will guide the carving process.

Sometimes the idea will be drawn on paper but most of the time a rough sketch of guidelines will be drawn on an appropriate size of a block of wood. Carving tools are used to gradually open up the block of wood and remove wood by working towards the basic form or shadow image. It is during this process that all the mental imagining of the incubating process guides the removal of wood and makes subtle design changes.

As the large masses of the rough form are whittled down to size, the basic form begins to take on distinct features and characteristics that give the carving character.

The various parts of the overall design of the project become a carving within the carving by carving each part in detail. For example the blocky form of a foot becomes a shoe carved in detail as is the same for each blocky hand receives the details of fingers. As every individual part receives detail carving the carving idea finally matches as close as possible the mental image that guided the entire process.

THINK INSIDE THE BLOCK  is a good way to begin the New Year with a steady resolve to carve more often, be it imagination carving or carving a block of wood.  Every carving completed will be a sign post left on the carving road to indicate that the journey has led to magical places while pointing on down the road to those yet to be discovered wonders of carving discoveries.  “Woodcarving is more the journey than the destination,”  so enjoy the journey into a New Year, a CARVEFUL  New Year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 at 8:27 pm and is filed under BEE Buzz. 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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