Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celtic Relief Carving part II

Well, here we are, and I've been through the second half of my Celtic Relief Carving class, where I was making a Lazy Susan. This week, we did the over-unders, and the stain. (well, some of us did. ;) ) I realized we could have done the over-unders during the week in-between so we could be closer to ready to stain them, but he hadn't given us his tips on that part yet, and I wanted to see what good tips he might have. So, here's where I left off before going to the second class session, having finished up all the negative space, including a space around the design to a circle I drew inside the edge of the board.

And he DID have some good tips! Some of what he was suggesting for the over-unders (well, I suppose it was really the "unders" that we were carving) was stuff with which I was familiar, about using a flat chisel (or skew) that wasn't too narrow or too wide so you didn't leave lines or make nicks in the sides of ribbons where you don't intend to, and part was about working with the grain. Now, I knew how the wood reacts when you go the wrong direction across (especially diagonally across) the grain, so that rather than closing upon itself like you want, it tears itself apart as you slice. But I still get mixed up sometimes and choose the wrong direction. It's probably just me, but in case anyone else has this little mental block, here you go...

Well, Wayne, being the excellent teacher that he is, shared this pearl of wisdom with us, which I'd somehow never paid close enough attention to figure out for myself: You cut from the shorter grains to the longer grains. A little part of me said, "duh" but really - I'd just never thought of it that way before - but that's exactly the right way to think about it. Unmistakeable. Thanks, Wayne!

So, I got started on my over-unders, being as careful and clean as I could.... but even though I was pretty clean, I found I like my ribbons to curve under, rather than just being an angle, so I ended up making lots of facets, which were clean, but not very regular or interesting. I could see some sanding in my future. Here's how they were coming out...

Then, for those ready to finish, they cleaned up their pencil marks with some 220 sandpaper, and then Wayne brought his wife to show us their finishing process. To my surprise, it was just one coat of colored wax. a series of applications and removals with rags, brushes and more brushes, all a section at a time and very quickly, until it was all covered and buffed up. Really a beautiful finish, and a remarkably simple process! I think I'll probably try it on  mine, too - though, I wasn't as far along with my carving, so I haven't done that yet.

After considering it just carved, with all the tool marks, I thought, I think I'd like the ribbons to be smoother, and I have a lot of pencil marks to remove anyway, so maybe I'll just sand the ribbons, but leave the negative spaces "off the tool." So - I did - I went over all the ribbons & outside part of the board with 220, and then, because I apparently just can't stop myself, went over them again with 400. Probably unnecessary, although they did say that the pencil marks don't matter much if you're using a darker wax color. But - I hadn't decided yet.

So - here's how far I am now. I think I do want the darker color, so I'll have to go get some. This sure was a fun project, and if anyone has the chance to try something like this. It probably took a similar amount of time as a simpler spoon, too, so that was good to know, too.

Maybe some day,  I'll try a chip carving class. :) But for now - it's back to spoons! I have a lot of spoons to finish in the next few months! And to all of you, happy Easter and happy carving!


  1. Nice work! I think leaving the background textured was the right thing to do. The contrast is very attractive. Having spent a lot of time as a flat-plane carver I like seeing the tool marks. And I hate having to use the Devil's Paper!

  2. Looking really good so far. I'm looking forward to seeing the effect of the final finish. As for tool marks vs smooth polished surfaces, I like both ways of finishing and as Mack has said the contrast between the two is very attractive. Sand paper is a necessary evil when a polished surface is necessary and it very often does seem necessary on spoons for some reason.