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My First (ALMOST) Completed Carving (And My First Post)

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  • My First (ALMOST) Completed Carving (And My First Post)

    Hello everyone! This is my first post so I figured I would introduce myself and share the adventure of my first (almost) completed carving.

    My name is Chris. I'm a Virgo and like long walks on the beach. Wait, wrong site. I'm 36, from Kansas City, MO and have wanted to start carving for several years now. I actually started a project several years ago using a really crappy set of gouges I found in my grandfather's basement but it was WAY too ambitious for a new carver so I got discouraged and stopped for quite a while. A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to get into it again so I purchased a Flexcut deluxe palm set, got several 2" thick boards of basswood, and set about another ambitious project I found in a book of patterns. Yeah, that turned out about as well as my first project so I quit for another couple years (I'm noticing a disturbing trend...).

    Flash forward to July, 2015. My father-in-law (Chuck) found out he had a golf-ball sized mass in his brain. It was a scary time for everyone, especially Chuck. During the next few months he went through chemo, radiation, and a lot of uncertainty. In looking for comfort he decided to go to church (for the first time in 30+ years) with my wife and I and I don't think he has missed more than a couple of Sunday's since. So to get back into carving I went online and found an image of a cross I liked and decided to carve them a gift. Here is my journey. As you will see at the end I still have some work to do thanks to some stupidity on my part.

    Here is the first picture I took after starting the roughing out process. Not a bad start. And I stuck with it for more than a couple of days!

    A little further in. I removed the termination from the bottom of the ribbon because my wife didn't like how it was turning out (and my gouge slipped).

    Almost there! Really pleased with how it is going so far. Just some final cleaning up and a bit more sanding on the ribbon and I'll be ready for stain.

    And here's where I cried a bit. Finished the carving process and decided to go to Home Depot with the wife and pick out a stain. Saw several samples there and we decided on Minwax Early American. It didn't seem too dark and was a pleasing color on the sample (with "on the sample" being the key phrase). Tested it on a scrap piece of bass wood and it looked good! On to the carving. I knew I had made a BAD mistake the instant the stain touched it. The wood almost DRANK the stain. Sucked it right up. And turned BROWN! At that point I had committed and finished staining the piece hoping it would mellow out some as it dried. It didn't. So I cursed and threw things and woke up the wife and kids with my little temper tantrum (not really true, the kids slept through it and the wife was still awake, but I digress). Here is the damage.

    I have since learned that I should have sealed it first so it didn't soak up the stain quite so fast and that bass tends to stain blotchy. Guess I should have done more research on it. After some careful thought and a few more tears I THINK I have figured out a way to salvage the piece. I am going to carve off the stain on the background and leave it on the cross portion (I think it looks pretty cool there). That way it'll have a nice contrast between foreground and background. And the ribbon I am going to paint purple (traditionally the color of royalty and I believe what the cloth normally would be in a piece like this). Not what I envisioned when I started but it is what it is. Lemons and lemonade and all that.

    Anway. Thanks for sticking with me in my long, drawn out first post. I look forward to being here and honing my skills in the hobby.

  • #2
    Sucked it right up. And turned BROWN! At that point I had committed and finished staining the piece hoping it would mellow out some as it dried. It didn't. So I cursed and threw things and woke up the wife and kids
    I have done this, think I woke up the whole neighborhood. I have carved off and sanded out mistakes like this....although it is noted you will do your research before you put stain on wood and will not do this one again. Each kind of wood has its own best methods of finishing....always get on here and ask tons of questions. There are also books and of coarse the internet search, and even videos on you tube. Remember test your wood on your throw away wood or section of back that people can not see.... always before adding finishes, not always take word of advice to heart until you see the results yourself.
    . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


    • #3
      Oh yea great carving......I like the design and the way you did this.
      . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


      • #4
        I'm sitting here wondering····can you seal your carving, which is quite nice, over the stain, then paint it to something more to your liking? I'm sure some oft the better painter here can come to your aid
        . . .JoeB


        • #5
          For a first attempt, or rather, your third, you have stuck with it this time, have learned a great deal already and are making your father-in-law a piece he will treasure, as well as your wife too I have been carving for much longer than you and still learn from each piece that I carve. Carving is a passion, not everyone has it or the skill to go with it, so over the coming months or years, you will learn if you have the passion and skills, and determination to stick with it.

          Good job, good save and enjoy the journey.

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


          • #6
            Hi Chris
            Nice carving, we have all made a few boo boos as we enjoy our carving sessions my 8 year old Grandson comes to visit he always asks, did you make any boo boos today Pop, that makes my day.


            • #7
              Great carving! Bummer about the stain though. I did the same thing this summer with a gunstock. I was able to remove most of the stain though, using a solvent. I forget what worked best though. I tried mineral spirits, terpentine and acetone. One of them worked really well but I'm old so I can't be responsible for the things that I forget.


              • #8
                Welcome to the forum, Chris! You will get a lot of expert advice here!
                Keep On Carvin'
                Bob K.

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                • #9
                  Welcome Chris,

                  So this is a sort of ex-voto, isn't it ?
                  you're off to a really good start.
                  I think many carvers (including me) have an apprehension when it comes to the finishing part.
                  I think you're going to find your best solution and save it !

                  If you intend to paint the ribbon, I would take a little more time sanding these last tool marks.

                  keep us in touch !


                  • #10
                    Welcome to the forum, Chris! I'm sorry to see what the stain did to your great carving. I don't know if it would help or not, but you might take a piece of scrap, put some of the stain on it, then see if a wood bleach could reduce the darkness. Please don't try this on the carving, but on a piece of scrap first.
                    Here's an example of a bleach:

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                    • #11
                      One thing I've learned over the years, when carving something that the finish is questionable, use a piece of the same wood that the piece is carved from, and experiment with it. Do some of the same carving on the scrap that you did on the carving, then try the finishes on it before going to your carving.

                      Sometimes on a carving that is primarily stained, but I want a color to stand out in a particular area, I will apply a base layer of white paint on that spot first. Let it dry thoroughly. Then apply the layer of color. For instance, on your carving, if you wanted it all stained, but the draped part you wanted to be a more vivid blue. If you are using oils, to get it lighter, use an extender or flow medium with the oil--not turp.

                      Good luck. The carving is beautiful.

                      From Missouri


                      • #12
                        Thank you for the kind words everyone. Nice to know that even veteran carvers screw up once in a while. I think this was actually a blessing in disguise. All my life I've been afraid to try new things because I might not be good at them. It feels good to start something new and royally mess up. And it allowed me to think outside the box to fix the problem. So here is the (almost) final product. I will probably go over it with a coat or three of poly but I'm quite happy with how it turned out.


                        • #13
                          That's a carving you can be very proud of.


                          • #14
                            Yessiree, that's a mighty fine job you did there, you have to be happy with the turnout. I hope you're not like me and be your worst critic, that is looking good I say.


                            • #15
                              Great save cwazzy! Beautiful carving and I LOVE the contrast between the cross and the ribbon and the background. You my friend are off to a great start.