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African Mask Low Relief Carving

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  • #16
    Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

    Step 10: Working in levels in relief carvings


    Before I start the level work on the face I want to take a moment and discuss the idea of levels in a relief carving.

    If you are an intermediate or advanced carver you may now need to use levels as by this time you are thinking and seeing line art patterns in dimension. However, if you are just starting relief carving establishing levels in your pattern then working them through your carving simplifies the idea of dimension in a "flat" work.

    Whether you are working a low relief carving or high relief, a complicated landscape or a simple cameo design every pattern has a background, middle ground and foreground area to it.

    The background contains those elements that lie behind everything else in the design. The mid-ground has some elements behind it but it lies behind the foreground. The foreground contains those elements that lie at the front of the design with no other element overlying. I often add to these three a sky level. This is the background area that surrounds the design - it's the very area that I have just carved away from the board.

    Example: Let's say we have a simple landscape pattern that shows a picture of a barn complex settled in front of a small mountain range and pine tree line. In the yard beside the barn is a series of fences fields. The barn has a driveway that leads to the road where a mail box stands.

    In this sample the mountains and tree line would be my background, all of these elements lie behind the barn, the fences, the drive and the mail box. The barn complex, fields and fences are my middle ground. They lie in front of the mountains but have elements - the drive and mail box - in front of them. The driveway and mail box become my foreground area, they are the closest elements to me.

    The sky area of this sample is the actual sky and clouds that would be in the far distance behind the mountains.

    I now have three levels - the mountain area, the barn area, the mail box area - that will have the detail carving plus I have the deepest area of the pattern, the sky area, that will have just a small bit of detailing for the clouds.

    I number my levels from the foreground to the background with #1 being the highest and in our sample for this discussion #3 the lowest and the sky level marked as "sky".

    During the rough out stage of carving I can drop an entire levels area to one depth without regard to the elements that it contains. I can drop the sky area to my deepest carving point, then the background level to a little higher depth, my middle ground area runs around the center point of the carving with my foreground area usually left uncarved.

    This makes the early rough out very easy and insures that every element within a level is down to the same starting depth in the work.

    As I begin shaping each level and establishing the different elements within it I can redivide each level. In our sample the background level contains some mountains that are in the far distance, some mountains in the near distance, then there is a line of trees in front of those mountains with pines in the foreground.

    By the time I am finished the shaping stage you will nolonger be able to see the original levels rough out work yet every element in the pattern will be at it's correct depth in relationship to every other element.

    I divide my designs into an odd number of levels - 3, 5, 7. For a complex landscape I will ususally use only three levels knowing that I will subdivide later.

    For our low relief pattern it is just as easy to do the sub-division right at the start. This is why our design is marked with eight.



    • #17
      Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

      Step 11: Beginning the rough out of ear accents.


      My deepest level in this low relief is the accent grass behind the ears. So I want that area dropped to just above the design background that we just carved. In the image in the posting above for the ear accents you can see that this area curves with the background curve.

      I have finished one side and have the other marked in red pen so that you can see where I am working.

      Just as I did to free the background I am using the wide stop cut to free the accent area from the ear line.



      • #18
        Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

        Step 12: Dropping the ear accents to level


        To clear the wood away from the wide spot cut I have switched to my large round gouge. When I had completed my left side ear accent I marked my depth gauge and am now using it to check that the right ear accents are at the same depth.



        • #19
          Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

          Step 13: Inside the earrings and the collar area


          I want to leave the earrings extra wide at this point ... don't want to accidentally loss them as I shape the ears, collar and chin. So I am simply cutting the open collar space inside of them to depth using a chip carving triangle along the sides. Eventually I will hit a mid-point of depth, which is enough for now.

          After the collar area has been dropped to a depth just above the ear accents I marked my depth gauge. I will use this same measurement for the head dress area. In a while we will be retracing each area of the pattern back to the cut levels so I am taking a moment to lightly smooth both the ear accents and collar with a chisel.

          This is usually where I grab my bull nose chisel but since the Flex Cut set does not have one I am using the straight.



          • #20
            Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

            Ouch...I've been there before! See if you can talk Michael into getting you one of the new Nvidia cards that allow you to hook up two monitors...I couldn't live without two monitors now (when I'm working on articles and the corresponding photos).



            • #21
              Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

              Step 16: Beginning the face


              I have changed over to my veining gouge, which is a very tight small round gouge. This tool is great for working in very tight areas as the deepest point inside of the ear rings.

              When I began working down the face into it's levels I seemed to go directly to the shaping. These next steps will be very general shaping work and can - probably will - be adjusted as the face carving developes.

              The chin is the lowest area of the face with the dip between the chin and lower lip almost as deep as his collar.

              The cheeks fall from a circular point that is to the side of the lower eye lid. If you place your finger at the lower edge of your lower eye lid you can feel the eye socket bone structure. As you follow that bone towards your ear you will feel the bone area widen. That cheek bone area of the eye socket is a ball shape about the same size as the eye ball area. This is my high point in the cheek and jaw areas.

              From that cheek bone point I have begun tapering the face down towards the lower corner of the upper lip, towards the side of the nose and to a line at the corner of the eye.

              The area surrounding the eyes has been dropped dramatically. All of this area tapers towards the eye.

              From the corner of the eye area above the cheeks I am working the forehead area. This is begin tapered from the center vertical line through the nose towards the edge of the face level.

              When I am fairly satisfied with an areas general shaping I am using a straight chisel up side down ... cutting profile placed face down to the wood ... to carefully shave the rough ridges.



              • #22
                Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                Wow...did you salvage any carving wood? I'm glad the video card has arrived!!!!



                • #23
                  Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                  Step 17: Working the other side of the face


                  As I began working the second side of the face I began adjusting the all of the work in this area. The edges of the face have been rounded over to flow into the ear area, the sides of the chin have been dropped to make the center of the chin proud and the inside - nose side - of the area surrounding the eyes has been lowered.

                  The area above the upper lip to the nose rolls away and down from the center dip. The dip was carved with a medium round gouge with the cuts deepest point at the tip of the nose. I have run a simple stop cut - a one cut stroke along the pattern line - at the edge of the upper lip so that I could drop this entire area slightly below the lip level. I have left a small edge on the outer side.

                  My large round sweep worked nicely for the dip along the upper lip line. I have angled the corner of the gouge into the simple stop cut then run the tool's edge along the full length of that stop cut.

                  I stop cut along the bottom edge of the nose so that I could tuck this area above the lip into or under the tip of the nose.



                  • #24
                    Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                    Just stopping in to see if anything more has been done to the mask. I've been watching this tuturial with great interest.


                    • #25
                      Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                      wow! That is fabulous!! We (I'm sure everyone including Marci ;-) ) are really happy for you!
                      Good Luck moving your stuff. Shouldn't there be a bbq afterwards where we are all invited? know we'd come help if we were closer.


                      • #26
                        Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                        Congratulations on the new "digs"! Plenty of room now! Can't wait to see the rest of the tutorial, great beginning.

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


                        • #27
                          Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving

                          Geez, Susan, why don't you have a little excitement in your life? I love the progressing tutorial, as well as the update on your impending move. After all you've been through this year, I think new digs are the perfect answer. Now you'll have room to spread out and enjoy your many activities. And now you'll have room for when pa and me and the 10 kids and their various pets load up and travel through your neighborhood on our way to see our youngins in VT. Just kidding--you know we fly there now to save time and wear and tear!

                          Good luck with the computer challenge. You and hubby can weather anything!

                          Donna T
                          From Missouri


                          • #28
                            Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving



                            • #29
                              Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving



                              • #30
                                Re: African Mask Low Relief Carving


                                It has been so long since I have had a chance to carve I am going to start this session by taking time to check my knives.

                                As a habit I try and do a quick sharpening after I finish the day's carving and before I store my knives for the evening. Still, it's been three months or more so I want to look for any signs of rust or tarnishing that might come from improperly storing the tools. I am also checking the edges.

                                A few moments with my strop and rouge will make this mornings carving go so much easier.

                                As a general rule of thumb I seldom find that I need to work my tools on my rough (800 grit) ceramic stone. This stone is used to create the general bevel of the tool's edge - it's the bevel shaping stone.

                                If I check my tools often, about every half hour, and if I check them before I store them away for the night I should not have any tools that have been so abused as to need to return to that coarse stone.

                                If I have worked a tool hard I may need a few pulls across my fine sharpening stone (8000 grit). This fine stone creates the cutting edge. I use ceramic stones that can be used dry, with water or with oil. So a few drops of water and a few long pull strokes (10 to 20) on each side brings the edge back to a crisp clean sharp finish.

                                Most of the time just a few minutes on my strop is all I need. I am working my bench knife in the photos. I keep this knife very low to the strop. You can slide about 5 or 6 sheets of printer paper between the back edge of the knive's blade and the strop. I have red oxide rouge on my strop and am doing a long pull stroke with some downward pressure to the pull.

                                After one pull stroke I lift then lay my knive back on the strop to pull the other side. This is not a 'flip' motion as that can round over the knive's edge ... Lift it up, turn it over, lay it down then pull.

                                I can tell when I am working the strop well as the rouge becomes shiny and discustingly black. After a few minutes on the cured leather side I flip the strop over and finish the stroping on the raw side.

                                How do you know when it's sharp ... ? Put your knife under a strong light and look to see if you can see the cutting edge. If you can your tool is not sharp! On a well sharpened tool the edge is so thin that the light has no place to catch and shine. On the dark handle Moor large chip knive (my bench knive) you can see no edge.

                                On the light colored handled bench knife you can not only see an edge you can see a monstrous ding! I think someone got ahold of that knife during our moving, perhaps to open cardboard boxes ... AH!

                                The edge is dull and so flattened and therefore the light can catch that edge. The ding is big enough that I really didn't need to put it under the lamp to see the dent area. This tool will need a little time on my coarse stone to reestablished the bevel, removing the ding.