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In over my head......

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  • In over my head......

    I ordered a couple of 1# pieces of cottonwood bark online (no preview). One is for my brother for carving a wood spirit, so he gets the even-ish one. I wanted to carve a little house, maybe with stairs, so I'm taking this irregular one. This is my second time carving cottonwood, and the first time was just some that fell off a tree in somebody's yard -- just a little sliver, but enough to make me want to try a real piece. Yeah, the 'cottonwood bug' bit me!! I'm trying to accept the challenge here, but the grooves are so deep that I can't even imagine a design to go with this piece ..... except for maybe a turret-like part on the top right. I feel like it has potential for an experienced carver, which I'm not. 11" high, 3.5-4" wide, 3" deep. Any suggestions? Leave it for the future? Scroll saw it into smaller pieces for Christmas ornaments?

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    Attached Files
    Last edited by WI Carver; 07-26-2018, 06:34 PM.

  • #2
    This is one of those situation where you need to study the piece of bark and let your imagination point the way. In the right photo a steep stairway could follow the angle from the right edge to the center groove, ending at a landing and doorway into the turret. Oh, I'm sorry. I let my own imagination take over. . .

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    • #3
      G'day WI
      I also am fairly new to bark carving and have problems with coming up with a starting point. but I have found that if I decide on which end is to be the top and then start carving the roof, my imagination seems to kick into gear and I then start to see strangely shaped windows and doors as I work my way down the bark. Don't worry about entries etc. These homes are for fairies, they can fly! I have explained this idea to friends that are new carvers and they agree that it definitely helps kick start the imagination.
      Hope this helps you to "get into" bark carving, it's really enjoyable once you do.
      Regards

      John

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      • #4
        Thank you both for the suggestions! I have both pieces set up to look at every day, hoping they speak to me. Pallin, I even thought of doing a little rope bridge to cross the crevasse -- my skills are definitely not up to it right now, though. Maybe if I sketch out the shape, it'll spur my imagination.

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        • #5
          Sometimes useful to have more than just a few pieces to study.
          You might see something in the wood/bark in a day, a week, a month, a year or two.
          That allows you to have a flow of carvings to mess with.

          For me, it has meant piles of good carving wood, indoors and out.
          Was a piece in my garden shed that looked like a turtle shell after a few years. It happens.
          Brian T

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          • #6
            I can see a gnome home on the right and tree on the left.... ?? See it?

            Here is a Halloween theme carving I did a few years ago. The piece also had a deep crevice but had a bad crack in the middle, with some rot. My carving buddies told me to throw it away and get a good piece. Now they're looking for "bad" pieces "with character".

            Attached Files
            ....Dave
            Old carvers never die... they just whittle away.
            www.shellknobwoodcarvers.weebly.com

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            • #7
              WI, I live in an "over my head" world, that's where interest, fun, creativity and growth are! Upside is that I'm always learning new things, never get bored...downside is that I end up with more things that I want to do than I will ever master.

              Point is, just dive into that bark and do something, anything, with it, that's how to grow your imagination and your skills...remember, wood burns, so if you screw it up, barbeque with it! It doesn't have to end up a masterpiece, just enjoy the journey.
              Arthur

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              • #8
                looks to me like a house with two gables, and a gothic-arched facade. work with what you got, I'd consider a minimalist approach- suggest windows, door, roof- rather than try to impose your will on such a piece.

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                • #9
                  Sketch the shape onto a piece of paper and then tinker with it. You don't have to be Michelangelo to do this, rough shape, rough doodles, pink eraser, soon something will pop into your head and once you scribble it onto your page, you just might like what you see. To me, looks like a big old lonely pine tree on the left side nestled up with the structure on the right side. Have a go!

                  Tinwood.

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                  • #10
                    You might make the big gouge into an entrance way with a turret above, then the castle to the right of the entrance.. Like Joh says, once you get into it, the bark may begin to talk to you
                    . . .JoeB

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dave.keele View Post
                      I can see a gnome home on the right and tree on the left.... ?? See it?
                      Originally posted by Tinwood View Post
                      To me, looks like a big old lonely pine tree on the left side nestled up with the structure on the right side. Have a go!
                      I do now! But it never occurred to me to carve a tree in there. You all know this stuff is expensive, but I'm just going to dig in this weekend -- after a few sketches.

                      Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I'll post pics of what I carve from this -- even if it's a flop. Everybody has to start somewhere!
                      Last edited by WI Carver; 07-27-2018, 07:57 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Jeez, I can see an awesome dragon in that already, just hollerin' to be released! Get to it and keep us posted with progress pics.

                        Bob
                        Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by squbrigg View Post
                          Jeez, I can see an awesome dragon in that already, just hollerin' to be released!
                          Maybe I should just save this piece for when I have more skill, because the more comments I read, the more I see the potential here. Maybe I'll carve the 'easier' piece and tell my brother that it .... got lost..... Then get him some for Christmas instead.

                          Today I'm playing with some de-waxed shellac before using it on the curly maple handle of an Ulu knife (class at Woodcraft), but I'll keep you all posted!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by WI Carver View Post

                            Maybe I should just save this piece for when I have more skill, because the more comments I read, the more I see the potential here. Maybe I'll carve the 'easier' piece and tell my brother that it .... got lost..... Then get him some for Christmas instead.

                            Today I'm playing with some de-waxed shellac before using it on the curly maple handle of an Ulu knife (class at Woodcraft), but I'll keep you all posted!
                            It’s just a piece of wood, that stuff grows on trees, go for it and have a learning experience. You’ll learn way more challenging yourself.

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                            • #15
                              Getter done
                              . . .JoeB

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