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What is "Whittling"

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  • #31
    Originally posted by honketyhank View Post
    I call myself a whittler. To me, the phrase "wood carver" implies an artist, or at least someone who is quite serious about his or her carving skills and results. "Whittler", on the other hand, implies to me a person who just enjoys entertaining himself or herself with a knife and a piece of wood. I, as a whittler, don't really care a lot about others' opinions of my whimsies. I suspect a "wood carver" probably does care, at least to some degree. ( But I do admit that I enjoy praise for one of my funny little chunks of wood.)
    i agree 100%......mack


    • #32
      AFAIK most things hand carved in Europe are done with gouges, not knives. It's mostly America where knives somehow became the carving tool of choice for many. In Europe the gouge rules. In fact if you look, Stubai and Pfeil both have lines of tools marketed here as Eurotools or a line of smaller "mallet tools". Woodcarver Ivan Whillock, whose son Chris is the importer for Stubai in the US, talked about the differences between the full size and smaller Eurotools and mentioned that the smaller l tools are sometimes used with light malleting, but we're really the tools of choice on smaller figures where one might want to hold the tool with one hand like a pencil grip.


      • #33
        Had the good fortune to spend about an hour with a carver in Austria, watching him work and occasionally asking questions. One of the questions I asked him concerned the use of a knife. He sort of chuckled and said "Woodcarvers don't use knives, we use skews".
        As a side note, the rec center at the base where I was stationed, asked me to teach a beginning woodcarving class. I had to order the tools from the US, as I was not a member of the Guild, and therefor was not a woodcarver. Got the same response from a local sawmill operator. I asked to purchase some "Linden Holz" (Basswood). He asked me why and I told him I had a carving commission. Same thing, he wanted to see my Guild credentials. I finally got the wood with the help of my German Landlord, and made the piece. In contrast, a German friend of mine restored old carriages. Periodically he would bring me a piece and would ask if I could make one to match. He laughed when I told him I was not a Guild member. I ended making quite a few pieces for him.

        After all this, I have mixed feelings about the European Guild system. It takes years and years to become a Master Carver in Europe, and comes with a degree from an institute such as the one mentioned in Oberammergau. In the US, anyone can label themselves a "Master Carver", and need not have any credentials. I teach locally, and I kind of bristle when asked am I a Master Carver. My typical response is NO. I have won many ribbons, prizes etc. for my work, but do not consider myself a Master. I do know a few, and the moniker is well deserved.
        Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. MODS, please move if you need to.
        Last edited by Steve Reed; 10-11-2018, 09:17 PM. Reason: punctuation
        Steve Reed - Carvin' in the flatlands!

        My fb page: 683&type=3


        • #34
          You make a good point, Steve. Different cultures, different memes. I think a lot of the American tradition of using knives began with people sitting by a fireplace or campfire, bored, and picked up a piece of kindling and using the knife to whittle a bit. The knife was used as it was a convenient tool that everyone had, and needed, back in those days.

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          • #35
            I was reminded of this topic while carving at the clinic last Thursday. I always have a carving to work on and was carving a comfort bird out of a cedar block. A lady approached and asked, "Are you a whittler?" The answer I gave is in agreement with Claude's post ~

            "A rose by any other word..."
            Cutting wood with a sharp metal tool can be
            1. Whittling
            2. Woodcarving
            3. Sculpting

            It all depends on what you want to call it...

            ~ "Yes ma'am, I am." She meant no disrespect to my ability and it was all a matter of semantics anyway. I have been identified as an ~ artist ~ sculptor ~ woodcarver ~ whittler ~ gifted ~ master carver. It all came to the same thing. The folks approaching me were appreciative of the work I was doing and what they called it was of little consequence. In fact, it looks as if I might get a commission from the lady admiring my "whittling". Her husband collects leopards and she is interested in having me do a detailed carving.


            • #36
              Interesting Steve. Suspect that is one reason Americans are so innovative and have a lot of "Yankee Ingenuity."

              I think it all comes down to the end product and the eye of the beholder. Heck, engineers, today can be "sanitary engineers," or Ph.D. EEs. I never was a fan of labels.

              A wood butcher is probably a good monicker also.
              Living among knives and fire.



              • #37
                All I know is I lived 100 years too late and on the wrong continent I feel like a European carver transplanted in America. Though I don't think guild membership or the like should be any sort of requirement in the US or maybe anywhere in 2018, it is a way to be assured you have found a qualified carver for a project in certain countries. In other countries you just have to look at their work and go by that. Had I discovered wood carving at age 15, I would have packed my bags and went to Europe to apprentice ASAP.