|Project by Mark A. DeCou||posted 03-17-2015 01:29 PM||2132 views||2 times favorited||12 comments|
Over the years I have been asked to carve a lot of walking canes with faces on them, as they’ve been a popular theme with my commissioned work. I haven’t posted photos of a walking cane for awhile, so this is the latest one, #2015-01, 36” Tall, American Black Walnut wood, with a touch of Ambrosia Maple on the handle.
I was up late last night typing a long story for another project posting, so I’m sort of shot this morning, out of words, and need to get back to my shop work this morning…..so I’ll keep this one short.
The customer on this cane waited a long time for me to get to her on the list, and she could not have been a sweeter person to deal with. Down the shaft of the cane with the beard twisted, she requested her name and the names of her grandchildren be carved.
Unfortunately, I spelled one of the grandkid’s name wrong, the “MARK” should have been a “MARC”. I looked at that list of names about a 100 times before I carved it to make sure I had it right.
But, I was working off the first list of names she sent me, and she had caught her error and emailed about the spelling change later. I got that communication, but when I took the list to the shop to carve it, I used the original list by mistake…..UGH!
The process of carving a cane in this style starts with a 2”x2”x38” blank of walnut. I look for wood that has straight grain, and one where the grain does not run-out the side of the shaft, as that would weaken the wood.
I then draw on the blank with a Sharpee marker the outline of the face and the twisting beard. I then remove everything that doesn’t look like what I see in my mind for the cane to be. It’s a lot of chips, and I’m nervous all the way from the start to the finish.
Several years ago I showed a walking cane in this style at a multi-State regional carving show, and I listened puzzled to one of my competitors arguing with the Judges that I had carved this out of one stick of wood.
The competitor and I had met several months before at a woodworking show in Kansas City, and so he defended my honor to the Judge. The Judge was convinced that I glued the face to the shaft of the wood.
The competitor deservedly won the competition, and I took 2nd, but I couldn’t have lost to a nicer guy. And and his carving was indeed better than mine, his animal’s fur looked like real fur, amazing.
Normally, I’m not content with 2nd place – 1st Loser, but that time I was happy, and I learned a lot about competitions….I haven’t been back to that since then.
My dad is quite an accomplished carver, and so I grew up with his sculpture pieces and furniture filling our house. Carving always seemed to come so easily for him, the chips just easily lifted just where he wanted. And, I see others that it comes easy for…..but I have to really work at it, and I’m still trying to improve.
Right now my 13 year old Son has decided he wants to learn to carve. I found a Cottonwood Tree down our road that the County Crew had cut down to protect the water drainage. So, we drove down and loaded up a few pieces of the Cottonwood, looking for something he could carve.
Sitting in my shop is an unfinished carving of a Native American Indian Chief’s face. So my Son decided he wanted to also carve and Indian’s Face in his new Cottonwood Chunk.
I watched him for three afternoons sit on a stool and just mess around, trying to figure out how to start.
That’s always my problem….how to start.
Well, that’s not my only problem…..finishing is also a struggle, but this story is about him.
For the first three days, I kept watching him sit on a stool in front of his “Carving”, just looking frustrated.
I’d ask, ”...do you need me to help you?”
He’d reply, “No, I can do it!”
I’m the same way, stubborn to a flaw.
By the Fourth afternoon, he had stopped.
Realizing how he was struggling with visualizing the carving inside the wood, I offered to help again.
This time, he accepted some advice.
So, I took a Red Sharpee Marker and drew a rough face on the place where he skinned off the bark for the past three afternoons.
I said, “now, just carve off the Red marker, and let me know when it’s gone.”
I went back to my bench and did my own work, and tried to not get caught peeking at his work.
He happily and quickly removed the red marked wood, and said, “I’m done, but it doesn’t look like a face?”
So, I returned and red marked again, and said, “Now, remove the red.”
Back and forth we went for three more afternoons, and slowly, layer by layer a face with nose and eye sockets, and chin started appear.
“I’m really doing it, can I take it to church and show the kids there?” was his excited question.
My suggestion was to wait on showing others until it was finished, so his “face” hasn’t gone to church yet.
I’m hopeful he’ll stick to it until he finishes up his carving.
He has a character struggle of working hard to the end of something, he tends to get about 3/4ths of the way and calls it “done”, and moves onto a new project.
I struggle with the same thing, so I understand the burden it is, and how difficult it is to get paid for projects that are only 3/4ths complete.
I do think that if it wasn’t for having to make a living with my tools, I’d never really complete any project to the end.
My shop is filled with the musings of my creativity, all about 3/4ths complete….too far along to toss out, too much left to take time and finish, and so they gather dust.
Maybe you have the same struggle?
So, my Son and I work on this character issue together, and hopefully the world will someday see another face emerge from a chunk of wood by his hands.
Thanks for reading along,
Mark A. DeCou
More Walking Sticks & Canes:
If you go to my Mark DeCou Website you won’t find very many canes pictured there. I do realize that I need to invest in improving my website, but until that is accomplished, here are few more of my canes posted at lumberjocks, thanks for your patience.
Handmade Finished Canes For Sale, Ready to Ship Now:
ETSY.com Online Shop Inventory: Click Here to Visit my Cane Inventory Page
- List of Other Canes I’ve built:-Folk Art & Pop-Art Carved Canes
- Bear Head Dressy Cane
- Horse Head Dressy Cane
- African Safari and Elephant Cane
- 50th Wedding Anniversary Staff
- Carved Face Life-Story Cane
- Motorcycle Biker's Walking Cane, Carved Flames
- Elk Antler Handle, Carved Twisting Oak Leaves
- Bishop’s Carved Walnut Crosier
- Nascar’s Jimmie Johnson Themed Walking Cane
- Carved Oak Leaf Walking Stick
- Folk-Art Smiling Wood Spirit Face Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle
- Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
- Folk-Art Pirate Carved Face Cane w/ Deer Antler Handle
- Cartoon Character Taz, Folk Art One-of-a-kind Art Cane
- Sculpted Wood Spirit Face Cane
- Folk-Art Wood Spirit Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle & Scrimshaw
- Folk Art Mountain Man Face Cane
- Shamrock Wood Spirit Irish-Theme Face Cane
- Walnut Wood Spirit Face Cane with Antler & Turquoise
- Collection of Face Carved Canes
- Moses-Inspired Face Carved Cane w/ Antler & Turquoise
- Shepherd's Stick, Carved Border Collie Welsh-Style Dog Show Trial Stick
- Carved Oak Leaf Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Artwork
- Amazing Grace Music Notes Carved Cane
- A Lady’s Elegant Red Long-Stem Rose Carved Cane
- Prairie Fire Hand-Carved Hiking Thumb Sticks
- A Folk-Art Carved Albatross Head & Snake Walnut Cane
- Carved Folk-Art Walking Cane; 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' Story Stick with Scrimshaw Artwork-
- Apache Chief Geronimo Folk-Art Face Cane
- Folk Art Native American Face Cane Set
- Apache Chief Cochise Folk-Art Face Cane
- Folk Art Carved Cane of Shoshone Chief
- Indian Guides Chief Big-Red-Cloud Hiking Stick
- Apache Chief Cochise #2 Folk-Art Face Cane
- Scrimshaw Quail and Bubinga Spiral Dress Cane
- Scrimshaw Art Trophy Buck Deer Head
- Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Praying Mantis Insect
- Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Floppy Eared Bunny Face & Walnut Barley Twist
- Big & Tall Barley Twisted Oak with Scrimshawn Handle
- Walnut & Curly Maple Cane with Scrimshaw
- Scrimshaw Art Walnut Cane
- Fancy Barley Twist with Scrimshaw Cane
- Lady's Dress Cane, Red Oak, Walnut, Black Lacquer, & Scrimshaw Artwork of a Purple Cone Flower
- Ash Sapling with Elk Antler and Inlays of Crushed Turquoise
- Knarly Cedar Driftwood Topped Sapling Stick
- Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
- Nanny McPhee Movie-Inspired Crooked Walking Stick
- Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Cane
- Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Walking Stick
- Shepherd's Crook Hiking Stick
- Black Locust Tree Sapling Walking Stick
- Red BirchTree Sapling Hiking Stick
- Fancy Barley Twisted Ebonized Oak & Elk Antler Cane, Serial No. 2009-05
- Big & Tall Walnut & Maple Barley Twist Custom Cane
- Big & Tall Red Oak and Antler with Scrimshaw Monogram
- White Oak Barley Twist Cane
- Osage Orange Barley Twist Cane
- Walnut & Figured Maple Barley Twist cane
- Black Walnut and Spalted Sycamore Barley Twist
- Red Oak Barley Twist with Black Lacquer
- Red Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Handle
- Dress Cane, Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Ring
- Bryan's Cane, The Start of my Cane Journey
- Ribbed Walnut Cane with Camphor Burl Derby Handle
- African Blackwood and Lapis Lazuli Ball Walking Stick
- Pink Ivory and Elk Antler Dress Walking Stick
- Coiled Ribbon Twisted Spalted White Oak with Walnut Handle
- Polished Black Steer Horn Upright Walking Stick
- Mexican Bocote Wood, Elk Antler Handle with Hand-Wrought Fine Silver End Caps
- Fancy Walking Cane, Camphor Burl, Maple, Bubinga, Whitetail Deer Antler, Inlays & Silver End Caps
- Custom Dress-Up Walking Cane, Walnut shaft with a Camphor Burl Handle
- Walnut & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
- White Birch & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
- Walnut Bamboo-Style Cane with Chrome Ball Top
- Walnut & Buffalo Horn Dress Cane
- Bird's Eye Maple Cane
- Spalted Sycamore Walking Cane
- Walnut Tall Knob Top Opera Cane
- Zebrawood & Walnut Knob Top Opera Cane
- Dress Cane Set, with several Material Options Shown
What is Scrimshaw Artwork?:
A Scrimshaw Art Journey: What it is & How to Do it; Five Simple Steps to Success
Click here to go to My Website page with Walking Canes
- Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works in Wichita, Kansas
- Prairie Past Times Antiques & Crafts in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
You can contact these gallery stores directly and see what they still have in stock. They will ship to you if you buy something. If you prefer, you can also email me, as I keep fairly current on what is “unsold.”
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Background: My Cane Making Story:
I enjoy sculpting walking canes. Some folks call them Folk-Art Canes, while others call them Artisan Canes, some call them Carved Canes, while others call them Walking Sticks. There is quite a bit of argument about whether something should be called Sculpture or Carving. They could be considered Functional-Art, which is the type of work that I am usually drawn to. No matter what these canes are called, they seem to bring joy to the owners, and I have been asked to make quite a few of them in the past 5-6 years.
I started making canes on the request of a nice married couple I met on a church-building short-term mission trip to Mexico City in the early 1990’s. Several years after our trip, their son-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer, and so they wanted to get him a specially made cane that he would enjoy using. They had heard from others that I had quit my corporate office job and started doing woodworking full-time. So, they contacted me to make his cane.
Sadly, I also built him a casket, another first for me, about a year later
Since the time I did that first Cane for Bryan, I have enjoyed the work on the canes that I have been able to make, but more importantly, the people that I have been able to meet and help along the journey. I do make a bunch of unique items and furniture, but without a doubt, I receive more correspondence and thank-you cards from cane customers than any of the other items I make, combined. So, they are fun for me to build, and I look forward to each new person and situation.
To keep a handle on all of the memories, I engrave a small serial number on each brass cane tip, and then I keep a detailed database log of each cane, customer, and situation. The list always brings me warm memories each time I scan it and remember the folks that have supported my work over the years, and vice versa.
Still Want to See more of my work?
Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:
(This text, all photos, project design, are protected by copyright 2015, M.A.DeCou, all rights reserved and protected, ask permission first! Weblinks to this page are permitted)
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com