Our family is sitting in the living room, huddled around the TV for the latest news and I needed something to do. So, I grabbed a copy of American Heroes and decided I would carve. Not wanting to wait till morning to go to the shop and properly prepare a large basswood board (and not wanting to leave the TV set for fear I would miss something) I grabbed a pre-made 3/4″ thick, 6″ x 8″ basswood blank that I had thrown into my carving tool kit.
I was well into the work before I realized what I type of commitment I had made, a head the size of a postage stamp.
Next time, I will plan a head … That is a head that is at least 2″ x 2″ to provide a nice wide space for working!
Establishing the layers
Begin this design by breaking the pattern into layers of carving work. I have chosen five levels total, counting the background as one of the levels.
The first level from the background contains the flag, iron rod, and the Fireman’s arm. Level two is his shirt and belly area. The next layer up will be the face and the bowl of the hat. This makes the final level, or highest area of the carving, the flag over his shoulder and the hat brim.
By breaking a pattern down into levels you are able to establish the general depth of an area before the detail carving is added. This both speeds up the carving process and eliminates guessing over the depth of any individual item in the pattern.
Using carbon paper trace just the outline areas of each level to your blank. Mark each area with a pencil as to it’s respective level.