|In the last lesson I finished the basic exercises of a flower, reported to Chris Pye and started the next project which was a bull from the Woodcarving Course book. because I didn't have a good way of enlarging the plan in the book I did it about 3/4 size. It came out okay (see picture) but I did have issues around tight curves and around the eye. According to the lesson I was supposed to use a stabbing cut when the arc of the curve got tight but I didn't. In practice I could not make the stabbing cut work so I used a low angle cut. After finishing the bull I knew I had screwed it up. The tight curves are muddy and uneven, and the eye is a disaster area. Otherwise, the low angle cuts which I had practiced extensively were fine.|
According to the instruction I need to carve another bull and do some different effects. I didn't want to repeat the same errors but I could not make the stabbing cuts with any confidence and I did not understand how you keep the line quality of a small 1/16" x 11 gouge which was used to carve the rest of the body, consistent when you change to a stabbing cut.
I thought about photographing the bull, sending it to Chris, and letting him tell me what was wrong but being in the Xmas rush I procrastinated on that. And then it hit me that what was wrong is that I could not do a stabbing cut properly and consistently. Actually when I thought about it the practice piece I had done to show grips really only had a few stabbing cuts in it and I was so thrilled about getting the low angle grip down pat I never really studied the right way to do a stabbing cut.
So before I call Chris I figured I should reread and watch him do the stabbing cut demo.
I did and I am doing it all wrong. Somewhere between my initial lesson and practice I lost the proper grip, I wasn't holding the tool correctly, I wasn't following the cut correctly, and needless to say I have to go back and start learning the stabbing cut correctly once and for all. As I have mentioned before I mostly learn from books, but the videos on Chris's carving TV were perfect in this case. my next step in learning to carve is watching the stabbing videos again, with my workbench right there, and practicing the cuts properly. If need be I will talk to Chris about matching the character of the different cuts in the bull, but first I need to see what happens when you do it correctly.
So I will be carving the bull again soon, but not before more reading and video lessons.
Note: In case you are curious, I know I mention many times the many books we sell by Chris, and his woodcarving TV website. While we do make revenue when we sell a book, we do not get any sort of commission on his website. The main reasons I am writing this series of blogs on carving are: Between work and parenthood my time and commitment to any hobby activity is tough and by blogging about my carving lessons I can justify more time at work spent in what is basically a hobby activity for me.
The process of how people learn is interesting to me. Most of what I write about is trying to teach or at least inform people. Most blogs are like that too. I thought writing about the learning process an interesting subject. Most students writing about their classes write about their progress, what it's like working and studying with others. I'm trying to write about the thought process and experiments and learning epiphanies needed to make my carving progress. I can't draw or sculpt so if at the end of this I can make a nice natural carving of something I will be extremely proud of myself. My wife says I need a hobby and furniture making is no longer a hobby for me. Carving on the other hand is totally out of the left field of my experience and I would guess that how I am learning and how I am acquiring tools and equipment is pretty typical of a lot of people who have learned to carve and can be a typical path of those who want to learn. Carving, for those living in an apartment, does not take up much space, so I hope I can get good enough so what excites me is the project I am working on, not my learning process.
Finally we stock and sell lots of carving tools and accessories. My blog is mostly on the history of woodworking and furniture-making. Adding in this storyline of learning to carve gives me a wider range of things to write on and I am hopeful that maybe a few carvers, beginners and more advanced, will find the inclusion of carving topics in my blog a reason to read it.
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