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Relief Carving Escher's "Bond of Union"

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  • #16
    Man, you are making us think deeper than we're used to...well, me anyway. I don't get to carve much, but I would be thinking of the fine incised line to allow me not to forget the positioning. But what do I know about this deep thinking relief carving. Your work amazes me!!!

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    • #17
      There are many forms of woodcarving that seem beyond our ability at first glance. For me that feeling may apply to caricatures or realistic birds. But as I analyze it or break it down to simple parts, it becomes doable. That's why I share this process, so that other carvers will discover that relief carvings, even complex ones, are quite doable.

      Here's where we are today: Contrary to the photo, most of the work has been done with a #3 - 16mm fishtail, and a #5 - 12mm straight gouge.

      Bond5b.jpg
      Last edited by pallin; 04-26-2017, 01:20 PM. Reason: spelling

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      • #18
        All your teasing, It just heightens the final project
        . . .JoeB

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        • #19
          Originally posted by pallin View Post
          First cuts! The first step is to outline the two heads so they can be shaped with their eventual contours. Some of the floating spheres will be left, and may be changed to hearts. The edge will bleed off, that is, no frame. So I started with some stop cuts just outside the man's head, then some slanting gouge cuts to meet the stop cuts. This will be repeated down to 1/2" or 3/4" around both heads. The floating figures will be at varying depths, but for now will be left at the surface level.

          Question - How should I retain the edge lines of the ribbons when shaping the relief contours of the two heads? Ignore them, and redraw after the heads are shaped. Or, incise fine lines to mark their positions even while shaping the contours. Your comments are invited.

          Bond4a.jpgBond4b.jpg
          What I'm thinking = I would completely ignore the ribbon edge lines until the heads and proportions, eyes ,nose, lips etc. are just right and then do the layout of the ribbons and the open space...taking it to 3d can easily raise and lower the lines to make it look right...and all the ribbon lines would mess with getting the depth and proportions right.
          Greg

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          • #20
            Thanks GregGerard, for your comments. It is important to get the facial features right before cutting the ribbons. Escher centered the eyes on a ribbon, and angled the ribbons to correspond to the tilt of the heads. We will see if the ribbon edges shift as it goes from two dimensions to some depth.

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            • #21
              This is pretty amazing Phil, considering it is all one piece of ribbon. I am feeling a little corss-eyed right now.

              Tom
              If I took the time to fix all my mistakes, I wouldn,t have time to make new ones.

              www.spokanecarvers.com

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              • #22
                In its final form the continuous ribbon will not be detached from the background, but will be a raised rib, deeply undercut but still attached. I personally feel that Escher's original lithograph was too busy, cluttered with floating spheres. It should not take minutes of study to get the message of the design. So I intend to eliminate many of the spheres, especially those in front of, and inside the ribbonized busts. Is this cheating on the challenge of rendering this design as a relief carving?

                The depth is now about 3/8 inch. I will reassess how many background spheres (or hearts) to include. Some of the sphere triplets may become spheres morphing into hearts. I plan to take the background further down. Then I'll start shaping the faces.

                Bond6.jpg

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                • #23
                  Wow. Great progress. I like to hear how you are working through the process of making one masterpiece into your own. When you kept mentioning the hearts, my original thought was to hope you wouldn't, but now I like what I see. I think you certainly found the right way to do it by keeping the faces complete and then removing the "not ribbon" parts. Thanks for keeping us involved not only with pictures, but with your artistic process as well.

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                  • #24
                    Phil, I also notice that the width of the ribbon is lost in the shadows on the back, some lines aren't represented in the shadows. Very tricky.

                    Tom
                    If I took the time to fix all my mistakes, I wouldn,t have time to make new ones.

                    www.spokanecarvers.com

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                    • #25
                      Phil, some may say you're a gluten for punishment with the projects you choose, but you're always challenging yourself and your results are always remarkable. I appreciate the WIP photos so we can follow your progress.
                      Keep On Carvin'
                      Bob K.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Tom Ellis View Post
                        Phil, I also notice that the width of the ribbon is lost in the shadows on the back, some lines aren't represented in the shadows. Very tricky.

                        Tom
                        This is one aspect of art that we overlook: where is the focus? Studying Escher's graphics, I realized some areas may be left dark or undefined on purpose. Classic painters would often add light to the parts of a painting to focus the viewer's attention of what the painter felt was important. I often consider how to help the viewer discover that this relief of a graphic design has actual depth.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by pallin View Post

                          This is one aspect of art that we overlook: where is the focus? Studying Escher's graphics, I realized some areas may be left dark or undefined on purpose. Classic painters would often add light to the parts of a painting to focus the viewer's attention of what the painter felt was important. I often consider how to help the viewer discover that this relief of a graphic design has actual depth.
                          My painting instructor would tell us that in a painting there should only be one star and the rest are supporting actor's.

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                          • #28
                            The discussion of focus is especially pertinent right now. As I carve away the background to raise the two head shapes, it is the time to decide how many of the floating objects (spheres or hearts) will be included. Later, when I shape the heads, I can still leave or remove the objects floating in front of the faces. The objects inside the ribbonized heads can be decided much later.

                            Consider, for example, the large sphere floating in front of the woman's forehead. Can I get the facial shape I want if I leave it there? It is often amazing how much definition is allowed by a little bit of depth. Obviously that sphere will not require as much depth as you see in the width. Will the sphere and her nose actually be at the same (surface) level?

                            Bond7.jpg

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                            • #29
                              This is the beginning of shaping the woman's head. As stated before, the heads will be contoured as complete faces, and then reduced to ribbons. Also, more of the spheres will be changed to hearts. This is a romantic image, even though a bit strange.

                              Bond8a.jpgBond8b.jpg

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                              • #30
                                One might wonder "Were these self portraits?" Did Escher use his wife and himself in this design? Probably not. Below are some graphic illustrations he did of his wife and self at about the same age as the figures in "Bond of Union."

                                Bond9a.jpgBond9b.jpgBond9c.jpg

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