Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects

PROFILE OF ABE LINCOLNWhittle Folk Relief carving has been done as the handle of letter openers and as jewelry pins.

The strip of wood used is bass wood a little thicker than the proverbial yard stick and about as wide.  Quarter inch thick basswood an inch and a quarter wide  and eight inches long is the actual size cut. A letter opener can be carved out of the eight inch long blank with the head carved on one end and the letter opener blade carved on the other end. 

If one is carving jewelry pins, the eight inch blank is still used in order to have something to hold onto while carving the relief head which is separated during the final carving process.   Sometimes a paint paddle has been used providing it is made of basswood.  Relief heads have also been carved into “Whittle Doodles” as seen in another post under “Navigation.”

Relief carving with only a knife is a challenge but the big thing about relief carving is utilizing perspective to create the illusion of being carved in the round.  Guidelines are drawn  outlining the basic shape of the face.

As with all my carving of faces I carve first the head covering because the head always goes up into the head covering rather than the head covering sitting on top of the head.  The head  covering is carved to its basic form showing a rounding toward the back along the side to give the appearance of being  carved in the round.  Next the hair line is established with a stop cut and then angled cut to the stop cut which is giving the appearance of the face rounding into the hair.

At either side of the bridge of the nose where the bridge and eye brow meet, a pie shaped triangle chip of three cuts is made to deepen the face at the inside corners of the eyes.  Notch cuts are made from the inside corner of the eye underneath the eye area over to the outside corner of the eye to establish an eye mound along with a notch cut just under the eye brow to establish the upper eye mound.

The keystone area of the nose where the bridge and two eye brows meet is sliced down toward the depth of the inner eye mound.  A stop cut underneath the nose and around the nostril wings outline the nose while angled cuts to those stop cuts make the nose stand out a little so that additional wood can be removed gradually to give shape to the nose and mouth area.

The eye is formed by making a tear duct in the bottom half of the inside corner of the eye mound by making a three cut narrow pie shaped triangle chip opening and then with the tip of the knife blade in the tear duct triangle chip, draw a stop cut in the shape of an open eye lid and then slice from the bottom of the eye mound up to the upper eye lid to make the eye ball to be inside the eye lid.  Bottom eye lid is made with a stop cut line from the bottom of the tear duct to the outside corner of the eye and then slicing the eye ball down with an angled slicing cut down to the bottom eye lid stop cut.

The triangle chip cut, or pie shaped cut-out is used any time the carver wants to make an opening or to shape contours.  Eye pupils, nose nostrils, corners of mouth, mouth opening, ear orifice openings or any other opening that needs to be lower than the surface is done with a three cut, pie shaped triangle cuts.

It is very much like digging a hole in the soil, in that it takes at least three cuts of the shovel in order to get a hole stared.  Where ever then there is a hole or a hard edge or a square edge, slicing and rounding off the hard edge rounds out the carving to a please shape.

As Dave Sabol likes to say, “When is doubt curve it out,” be it design or in sculpting the carving to its final shape and detail.  And that is what relief carving is all about by carving a flat surface utilizing perspective to guide the shaping of the wood into stair stepped depths while rounding all levels around to the side to give the appearance of being carved in the round.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 at 11:46 am 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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