Today I took an introduction to relief carving class at the local Woodcraft store. The class was focused on carving an oak leaf and acorns using a piece of Basswood. This was my first experience at relief carving. I am an absolute beginner. I have to say I really enjoyed this and will be setting time aside to carve as much as I can. I would also say I have extreamly happy with the Ashley Iles carving chisels. They arrived sharp, are very substantal and they cut basswood like a hot knive through butter. I am really glad I started with quality tools.
The work piece was secured to a simple jig using double sided tape. The jig is made from a 2×4, a 2×2, and a piece of plywood screwed together. This is then mounted in a bench vice. The bottom part of the 2×4 is cut away to fit around the screw in the bench vice.
The next step was to trace the pattern onto the work piece. This was done by going over the lines using a ball point pen and making indentations onto the surface of the work piece.
Then I used a straight chisel to outline the shape of the pattern. The intent is to establish a boarder between the item being carved and the background. Once you have an area outlined, we used a gouge to remove material up to the edge of the carving.
Once you have the carving outlined, you need to decide if your going to have a boarder or not. I chose to add a boarder using a viener tool. You then remove material from the boarder into the carving.
You start the process with a deeper gouge (higher sweep) and move to a shallow gouge to smooth out the background
I basically got through carving parts of all leaves when we reached the end of the class. I would say that it was a lot of fun, though I was pretty beat. I spent most of the day alternating between standing on one leg and sitting in the wheelchair.
Here is a photo of an acorn carved on one of the other students carvings. I need to build myself something to hold the work and then complete the carving.
This is where I ended the day.
Things I learned
- Sharp quality tools are a joy to carve with
- I want more tools. I can see why you would want more to get into specific places and make specific cuts
- Relief carving is something I really enjoy
- Proper work holding and work height is very important
-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov