Year 16, Week 02, Day One (week 747)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
60 degrees early morning 75 high at about eleven, 70 degrees around two. Heavy high clouds early morning that lead a front that was slowly passing across the state. Misty Liquid Sunshine started coming down around eleven, by three, sky was clear and nothing was on the radar over land. The wind in the morning was strong enough to blow my hat off once. It was lighter in the afternoon. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Department Of Tourism.
I went to the Gold Coast Wood Turning Club meeting. There was a problem where it was not the normal night, many of the people were at a symposium or convention somewhere, and The normal access door was not available. I think I saw someone pull out when I came in that may have thought it was not meeting night.
I could not figure out how to get in. I had to search for and find the calendar on my phone to make sure I had the right night. I then used my cane to reach through the chain link enclosure that is around the normal door entry and tap on the door, and then had to go around to the side of the building, not far and on pavement, to get in.
The demonstration was on sharpening tools. It reminded me that all my tools need to be sharpened, and cleaned up quite a bit. I also saw I have not quite sharpened my tools properly. There is a technique to it. I don’t think my sharpest tools were as sharp as his. Now all I have to do is to take the time to sharpen tools. It is that old problem, Do I take the time to sharpen tools or do I use the time to just do the project that needs to be done? Decisions, Decisions.......
The club has what is called the Instant Gallery. This is where you place your pieces on display. People can look the pieces over, examine them, develop questions about them. Later in the meeting, we then have a show-and-tell about what the piece is, how we made it and what treatments we did on them. The work, even by beginners, is excellent. Many times, you would not know they were beginners.
We had some wood carvers who just joined the club. Their carving work was excellent. I showed off my ducking bowl. It was something anyway. I did not hear any comments about it, but did not care. Was happy to show off something done since the last meeting I attended.
The weather reports I read said rain in the morning, and more possible rain in the afternoon. I saw a heavy front crossing the state. It was slow and wide, but I figured it would come by noon and later.
The sky was covered with heavy clouds. It was not uplifting weather.
After Breakfast, we headed out to see if anybody had yard sales. We did find a few. One was a couple where they were moving back to Germany where the wife’s Mother is. They had beautiful furniture of the light yellow wood I like. I don’t have any place for it so I just enjoyed looking at it only there. Another yard sale was people who have had a yard sale before. I saw a clothes hamper that was interesting and forced myself to walk away. Later in the day, I was going for gas and drove by to see if the hamper was there, but they had already packed up. It is where, this is something you don’t really need it but could use it, but not exactly sure when. At least I am not kicking myself for not getting it.
After Mom had gassed up, we checked the nearby area that sometimes have yard sales. One was at a home where a man had regular tool yard-sales. This time, his daughter was having a yard sale. She had moved from a house with a garage to a house without it. She brought a bunch of her stuff down to her father’s house for the sale. I saw several things that would be nice to have but I would never ever use. I did see something first off that was interesting to get, but walked around the sale to see everything else. When I got back to where I saw the interesting item, I had forgotten what it was and could not find it. I didn’t get anything.
Later in the morning, when I was coming home from the gas station, the front arrived with a light mist. I got home and took a nap to wait out the storm. The weather outside matched my mood.
I woke for lunch and then later went out side to pet the cat. The storm was over and the temps had dropped already. The cat ate a whole lot simply because I took the time to pet her the entire time she was eating. We both had enough, me giving her attention and her eating and getting attention, about the same time.
It was late enough to where I decided to go in and watch TV and crochet and basically call it a day.
Year 16, Week 02, Day \two (week 747)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
46 degrees early morning. It was so far below the 56 degree tropical frost temperature of South Florida that I had to put a heater at the door to thaw it since it was frozen shut. Luckily the place was warm enough that the pipes didn’t threaten to freeze. It rose to about 60 degrees at about ten and 65 about one. The sky was as blue as I have seen it in a long time. There was no haze of any kind so the blue was richer than I remember seeing. There was a light breeze but not bad. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Department Of Tourism.
I got to Mom’s house. It was brisk, at least for me. I fed and petted the cat a little bit, then remembered a project someone suggested to me this week, which was to do a carving of his cat. His cat is a calico cat, with splotches of many colors. Considering how cool it was, I decided to take a chair out by the sheds with my carving basket and sit in the sun and enjoy the deep and rich blue skies. In the sun, I didn’t need my sweater.
I cut two pieces of that really soft whitewood at the bandsaw and started carving. After several cuts, I glanced at the edge of my knife and noticed there were a few tiny points of light when looking at the edge of the knife. Those were nicks or chips. They make carving a bit harder and leave fine lines in the wood where you cut. These were not bad. I usually don’t grab a sharpening stone as that mainly is for removing metal. That is not actually sharpening. Grind stones are to shape the blades. Honing like with a leather stop, polishes the edge and straightens the “wire” or Burr, on the edge and that is actually what sharpening is. Because of the nicks, I grabbed the stone. It took me a bit to remember that with a sharpening stone, you move the knife edge as if you are trying to shave the stone. You do a few strokes, then flip the knife and do a few strokes. Part of what you are doing, is building the wire or bur edge. When you have removed any signs of the chips in the edge, then you do single stroke on each side a few times so the burr is as straight as possible.
The next stage is to go to the strop. A few years ago, I glued a piece of leather belt to a block of wood with a handle I had made. When you drag the knife on the leather with the back of the knife leading you start the process of honing. The idea is to polish the surface of the knife and to polish that burr, straightening it out to a fine wire that can shave hair. Once I had the knife where I wanted it, I started carving again.
The rule of thumb is that any time you stop carving for any reason, even if it is to get a little better view of what you are doing, you take a moment to strop the knife and it will stay sharp for several carvings as long as the edge does not get chipped.
Now there is a problem when carving any animal. What makes a figure a cat, rather than a dog, a bear, a cow, or a mouse? That is sometimes a hard thing to figure out. It is where some skill appears for the artist. My luck would have it that Momma kitty stayed away for much of the time I was carving, and when she did get near, she was always in the wrong position to give me a clear look at her for comparison. I had to go by memory and guess. It is not always easy to know what very slight changes to body shape dictates what animal is which at a glance.
My first carving was just the head of the cat. As I carved, I found myself getting closer and closer to what a cat looked like. There were several cuts I could not do because of my left wrist. I had to change the work’s position because the wrist could not take the pressure. I was able to get the cuts but not as easy as I would have liked.
I had the head and face quite close to what a cat looks like (a bit long) and had to do a little bit more on the ears. I accidentally popped off the tip of the ear. I found the tip among the wood chips (I was lucky to see where it went, along with the three times I did not get a good grip on it and dropped it again) and glued it on (Whitewood is prone to splitting easier than Basswood which is the preferred carving wood). I decided to leave the head as it was and let the glue dry over the weekend.
I took another block I had cut, and started the process of hogging off wood on it. I had only a slight concept of what this was to look like and developed an image as wood came off. This was a reclining cat. Part of the problem I ran into was with the sides of the head that was end-grain. It would have been nice to use the bandsaw to remove a bunch of the excess wood but I was not sure exactly what I wanted when I started and it is always worse to remove more wood than you intended with the saw, then to leave less.
The grain of a wood is in some ways like glued-together straws. Cut along the direction of the straws will split them apart. Cutting them on an angle will slice them easier, but is a bit tougher. It is when you cut across the ends that it is much tougher to cut. Much of the wood above where I wanted the body to start split off, using a deep slice across the piece ( a stop cut) to stop the splitting. The head, though, is facing the side of the wood. This means that the sides of the head (which was too wide at the start) is end grain and tough to cut. The muzzle, which is facing to the side, and can easily split off.
These pieces of wood were a two by two by about four or five inches. It is small so any mistakes add up quickly. When I stopped, from being sore of sitting and carving, I had the basic shape done. I have a long ways to go and do see some mistakes in the design. They are correctable.
I showed the cat head to my mom and brother and they thought it was pretty good. But. I got “is that a bear?” on the reclining cat. I have a ways to go on that, especially the head.
After dinner, I had to leave and visit a friend in the hospital. She was at a hospital I never knew was there, even though I had driven by there many times. I parked near an entrance and found I had to walk around the corner of the building to get to the emergency entrance. I then had to walk to her room with an elevator ride in between. This is a small hospital so that made it nicer. Some hospitals are humongous. Also she had been moved to another room as her neighbor was screaming and my friend could not sleep.
We uplifted each other’s spirits for a short time, while which I sat and rested, then had to walk back to the truck. Have you ever noticed that the trip back is always twice as far as the trip there? The knowledge that once at the truck, I could sit and rest, kept me going.
I have no idea what I will work on next weekend. I could paint the cat head during the week, but might wait for the weekend and work on it more. I might work on the other carving also. I could, though come up with something else.
I will see what I actually do next weekend.