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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Carving Cranes and Stitching Carter

For the past few weeks, my crafting area seems more like a wood shop than a sewing room.  It is littered with tools, sandpaper and wood chips. I have completed five new wood carvings, each a little more advanced than the previous.  The learning curve continues to be very steep forcing flexibility and imagination to make up for skill.

As much as I am enjoying carving wood, my sewing machine was haunting me.  A birthday wish for our grandson was a good excuse to try a different technique in thread sketching.

#3 wood carving- Small Crane

My third carving is a small crane measuring about five inches tall.  It is carved in basswood and mounted on a small wood thread spool.  After hours of whittling, applying paint seemed intimidating.  Instead, I applied a bit of blue chalk to darken some of the feathered areas.  I tried white chalk in other areas, but it dissipated with the linseed oil.  The spool was an easy way to make the crane stand, but the spool deserves more attention. Long wood shavings were used around the legs to decorate and steady the mount.  

Challenges faced include how to keep the carving tools sharp and eliminate the "fuzzy" basswood finish. Frequent stropping has helped both of these issues, but there is also skill I have yet to acquire to determine the direction of cuts and what the wood will tolerate. I have learned that if there is fuzziness when the carving is complete, applying the linseed oil and letting it dry before sanding helps remove the fuzzies.  Extra care is required, as the sandpaper will remove detail along with the fuzzies.  

#5 wood carving - Oregon Coast Crane on Lake Erie

About 15 inches tall
This crane is carved from driftwood found on the Oregon Coast many years ago. The driftwood sat in a drawer waiting for a project.  As soon as I started carving wood, I pulled it out and began looking for clues of what it should be.  It took two weeks before the crane appeared in the wood.  

Care had to be taken when planning what I would do with the driftwood.  The part that became the head was very hard, almost like rock.  The other end was soft, like charcoal.  

The cattails were carved from pieces removed from the body of the bird.  The reeds are made from handmade Black Ink Egyptian Papyrus paper, purchased at our local Dick Blick Art store.  

Natural wood anomalies on
the wing area were left undisturbed. 
Linseed oil was applied to the entire piece. The oil darkened the driftwood considerably. Fortunately, I had treated the crane with oil before mounting it on the base, allowing a little sanding and additional carving to recreate detail.  

The crane and the reeds are mounted on a piece of driftwood purchased on eBay.  The dealer said the driftwood had been gathered from the shores of Lake Erie. Why purchase driftwood when we live only two hours from an endless supply at our beautiful Oregon coast?  The short answer is that I was anxious to complete the piece, but could not see myself foraging for just the right driftwood in the cold, wind and rain.  I am, however, looking forward to our next trip.  Gathering driftwood will be on my short list of things to do while there.  

The eye is a knot that runs
through the wood.
The back side is uncarved

Talented athlete #16

This birthday card for our grandson, Carter, was inspired by a photo of him taken by his mother.   Because his uniform pants would stand out better on a colorful background, I decided to try stitching on a layered background rather than the osnaburg cotton.  Incorporating colorful fabrics into my thread sketches would broaden the possibilities, but it takes practice to achieve balance.  The simple background depicting the ball field was a good place to start.  The fabric edge would have been better finished with a turned edge or binding.  The torn edge stretched the fabric more than expected and made it difficult to apply the fabric to the card. 

Coming Up!

There are a few more cards and small wood carvings in the works.  I also have a larger thread sketch in mind incorporating a variety of fabrics into the sketch.  The idea is still developing.  

Thank you for visiting.   I hope you will come back.