Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects



The “Destination” of the journey of carving a mountain man is the finished carving that is displayed in this beginning photographic gallery.  After this first photo display the “Journey” portion of the mountain man project will be explained in written explanations and photos of the progressive carving steps towards to finished mountain man.








“Woodcarving is a journey more than the destination,” is the observation concluded in every carving project.  The completion of a carving project would appear to be the “destination,” but the real experience of the joy of carving is the journey that begins with a block of wood and continues with the shaping and refining of the project until it is completed.  The “destination” of the project has come to an end but the carver is ready to begin another journey by carving another project where the creative imagination and energy realizes the joy in the doing. The destination is a goal but the journey is the real prize in the creative process of carving the project.

In this “journey” phase of every carving project is where learning to trust the creative process guides the carver throughout this journey.  The journey teaches the lesson that “the more one carves the better one carves” because every carving project is a “practice and learning experience” that is filed away in the creative imagination to guide the carver along the journey.  Even when a new carving project is a challenge, yet “Challenge is a teacher of unknown lessons” that are learned in the doing. The journey reminds the carver to trust what has been learned in previous journeys by doing the basics to sneak up on the complicated by doing the basics of whittling down the complicated to the size that can be accomplished.  Previous journeys have taught the carver to begins by carving the project to its basic form as a silhouette of the form of its various parts before attempting to refine with detail carving.  Ninety percent of any carving project is carving the basic form and ten percent is the detail carving that comes as the final phase of the journey.

Trust the journey process by what has been the guiding force in previous carving journeys.  For example, begin with the research of the subject that is to be carved with a mental imagination image of the subject. Add research of pictures/images of subject to guide the outfitting elements to the subject to modify the mental image of choices to consider during the “design my carving stage.”  Select the appropriate size of wood and then begin to open up that block of wood by removing wood to begin the “carving to the basic form or silhouette image.”

 Carving the parts will eventually end were the whole is completed. Carving to basic form is to carve the parts of the mountain man in increments beginning with the head covering and head and then moving down the form of the body ~ shoulder, arms, waist, legs, knees and feet standing on a base carved at bottom of block.  This basic form of these parts will be larger in the beginning phase as well as keeping in mind elements of the outfit and accessorizes that will also be roughed into the basic form.  The first two photos below begin the journey with a basswood block measuring nine inches tall by two and half inches by three inches. The second photos show the corners of the top of the block removed to begin the form of the head and cap.  Notice also the study images behind the block of mountain men.  Note also that this is a Whittle-Carving project which means that only knives were used in the carving process.


The next series of photos begin to show the progress of removing wood towards a basic form. The first photo on the left shows the basic form of the animal skin cap with feather on the side and the form of the head carved as going up into the cap. Notice also the horizontal lines drawn around the block at the top of shoulder, the waist and the mid knees to indicate the Rule of Three for body proportions and as a guide from the drawing in of guidelines as the process continues. The second photo shows a drawing of the hands-on top of the rifle and vertical lines representing the rifle. Notice also that the angle of the arms is beginning to take shape. The third and fourth photos are views of the shaping process at this stage.



The next series of progressive photos are of shaping the aera for the rifle using a serpentine scimitar blade shape to make a controlled stop cut using the cutting edge of the belly of the serpentine blade followed by a second angled slicing cut to begin removing wood from the side of the rifle area.  At the same time wood is removed from the front and side of the long coat.



The photos below will show the progress of the rifle area established, the powder horn and necessary bag established and the beginning the of legs and feet established. Continuing with the rifle area separated from the body with a series of repetitive slicing cuts carefully and slowly creating the opening behind the rifle area.




The next series of photos show the progressive and repetitive slicing cuts for the inside back side of the legs with the same process done on the front side.  The knives pictured are Side Winder blade shapes.  Notice that the carve to form is being refined as the process goes along.




The Side Winder small blades are being put to use in a tight area between the powder horn and elbow and the inside corner of the bend of the elbow and the chest area. The smaller Side Winder was used to shape the angles and planes of the hands and carve around the knife handle up under the arm.



Carving to form has progressed to the stage where detail carving can be employed.  In these photos the rifle has been detailed along with the fringe trimming on the coat, necessary bag, knife scabbard, and the boot shafts.



The final four photos are of the detailing of the face, hair and beard along with the racoon cap, feather and the bag and powder horn straps.



The mountain man was finished using artist oil paints thinned with boiled linseed oil and final application of Deft, a brushing lacquer.

This journey has ended while awaiting another journey to begin and so it continues on the Journey of woodcarving.  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is an ancient Chinese Proverb and adapted to woodcarving it would say, “Woodcarving journey begins with a single slicing cut and continues with each new carving project.”  “One cut is not a cut to end all cuts, it is simply the beginning of more cuts to follow.”  Enjoy the Journey.



This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022 at 2:30 pm and is filed under Carving Projects. 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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