Wood Carving – American Heroes

Working the face

On the face the side areas of the cheeks tuck back deeply against the coat collar.  The inside of the collar has a very steep slope.  This makes the face tuck into the coat.

The tip of the nose is slightly behind the front of the dust mask, the mask being the highest point in the facial features.

After the face has some general shape move on to the outer areas of the design.  I am using the small round gouge and bullnose chisel for the basic sculpturing.  The v-gouge laid on it’s side so that you use the tips of the “v” instead of the point is excellent for walking into the deep edges.

Here the stars are defined by lightly deepening the flag around them.  The stripes are denoted with the v-gouge.  I have done a little more work on the face at this stage.

Shaping the Hat

I have moved into the hat area.  Here the hat rounds over to the sides with the badge area the highest.  The brim also is round so that the highest edge of the brim is directly over the Fireman’s nose, the rest of the brim falls away from this point.  Once again I return to the face for refining.

The depth of the inside corner of the eye has been dropped slightly, the mustache corrected, and the cheek better defined.

Working the hands and arms

The hand and arm are finally roughed in by tapering this unit toward his body at the elbow.  His hand is the highest area for this level.  There is a deep cut area on the inside of the coat cuff to visually allow room for the arm to enter the coat.

Back to the face area one more time. The eyes have been softened so they no longer have that ‘Egyptian look’.  The wrinkles in the face have been rounded over for a softer look.

Redefine the detail lines

Once the rough out sculpturing is completed I return to each area and redefine the detailing.  Undercuts have been added along the collar areas where the face comes in contact with the coat, along the shoulder area where the flag folds over the body, and along the wires that hold the flag to the iron rod.

At this time I will lightly sand the work to remove any “dust bunnies” or fine fibers that have not been teased out of the work.

You will note that I have left the work fairly coarse, many of my chisel and gouge lines remain.  Because of the topic and theme of this carving the roughness, I believe,  adds to the design.  The chiseled edges and hardness of the look of the carving adds to the intensity of the moment captured by the pattern.  Even if this design have been carved in a much larger size, I would chose to leave the work with many of the chisel strokes showing.

You can, of course, continue with the work at this point for a smoother, more finished look if you chose.  Simply begin again with your chisels and gouges.  This time use them with a very light touch to shave over the rough areas.  Lightly sand a second time.

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  1. Pingback: Wood Carving Techniques | LSIrish.com

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