I didn’t get started on the birdhouse contest until after it had already begun, so I haven’t had much time to post anything. I was really concerned that I wouldn’t get it finished in time, so my plan was to work on critical areas, so that at least I would have something to enter, if I got delayed or didn’t get the sides or back or roof finished. So I started carving the front first. I cut out all the basic shapes for the front, back, and sides. Then I used tracing paper to get my designs properly sized and placed within the constraints of those pieces.
After I got the front finished, I did the sides, reversing the pattern on one side. I didn’t carve the sides all the way to the top because the roof would over-hang and hide that area.
Then I did the back. I received some sample copies of a European carving magazine that had this wonderful pattern.
Their carving was a larger, pierced and high relief carving with a slightly different face. I changed it up a bit and gave the dragon more of a beaked, almost griffin-like face, that I thought went better with the bird theme.
When I finally got all these carved, I started the burning and shading. I did the sides and dragon first, before doing the front, so I would get in lots of practice before doing it!. I really liked the relief carvings without the burning, but I was afraid the details might not show up well. I’m not real confident in my relief carving and feel that I need more depth or something, compared to other carvings I’ve seen. Finally, with everything burned, I was able to glue the sides to the front and back with simple butt joints. I ended up needing to put little glue strips inside the front and back to hold the side pieces in. I also did this so that I would have something to screw the bottom to. I just cut the bottom to size, after I had the rest glued up.
So by the 23rd, I had a birdhouse of sorts, and I could always just enter it with a plain roof. I started measuring and cutting out the roof. I didn’t get both sides carved and burned until late at night on the 29th. I had to glue both pieces of the roof together and let them dry over-night before I could glue it to the rest of the house.
Saturday morning, the day before the contest ended, I carefully glued the roof on and help it in place with rubber bands. While it was drying, I turned the base mounting pedestal out of a piece of 4×4 post. I decided it needed some leaves, so I started carving and burning those to see how it would look. Once the roof had dried, I needed to carve and burn the small area at the top where the two pieces butted together. This let me continue the shapes of the leaves onto the end-grain and make it look like they flowed together. I finally completed the pedestal and cut out the base from a piece of cherry, which got a little routed edge for decoration. While all this was going on, I applied several coats of BLO to the house and then finally wiped on some satin polyurethane right at midnight.
I finally got the pictures taken and submitted after church the next day. Whew! I need a vacation! Thanks for looking and listening to my rambling.
-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com