(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
67 degrees early morning, 78 degrees afternoon, Mostly cloudy with a few hints of sun, mostly with a string of morse code clouds that need potty training, coming in with dots and dashes of misting, enough to mess up outside activities in this part of the county, and ignoring the southern part. This weather report is brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
Back in the late 90s, My dad had learned carving and was traveling the country, usually going to the WAR EAGLE fair grounds where they had a yearly carving and wood working symposium. My dad would take classes from the masters and developed his skills.
In the late 90s, Dad kept asking me to start carving with him, and I had no interest in carving, I had other activities going at the time. I was writing stories, building stuff for model railroads and otherwise wasting time.
Dad would come inside, spend about fifteen minutes to half an hour sitting near me to rest and cool down, then go back outside. That was about all I saw of him during my visits to mom’s house.
The week leading to January 17, It dawned on me that my Dad was in his 80s, and I realized I did not want that “I wish I had said, I wish I had done” feeling when he finally passed. On January 17, I borrowed one of his knives, picked up a piece of wood, and started carving.
Up to this time, I never looked at his carvings. When Dad started carving, he had difficulty removing the corners of the block of wood he started carving on. It was almost a surface carving on all sides of the blocks. I was going more of what mom said about his early carvings than what I actually saw.
I made a conscious effort to dig into the wood deep with my first carvings. On my first carving, I tried to have a hat that had a brim going all the way around, but it kept breaking on me. When I finally finished, I had a ball cap on an angle. I gave the guy a really big nose and then more surface carved the body as I did not have rook to do more. I sort of call him Charles De Gaul, the French leader near that time. My next two carvings were from flat boards so there was a limit of “movement” in the shape that I could do.
My dad did a popular style of carving where the figures were basically standing straight up and down. I also wanted to get away from that. I wanted my carvings to look like it was doing something, in motion.
In making my fourth carving, I knelt down and put myself in the position I wanted the character to be in and looked how my limbs would fit together. Other than not getting forearms correct, it ended up being a good carving. In that one I also learned I disliked sanding.
I kid people by saying that my dad taught me to carve by patting me on the head and saying “do another one.” Much of what I learned by carving was on my own, trying to avoid the “mistakes” he made. He taught me how to make my own knives, and got me into an art show to get tool money to improve my capability of wood working. He also gave me a place to work.
In July 2003, I started “messing” with wood turning. Mom got me a lathe made of sheet metal in October and have continued wood turning since, getting a better lathe along the way, I swapped between carving and wood turning projects, working on whatever caught my interest at the moment.
I continued my wood working after my Dad’s passing. It was near the end of his life that I actually saw my dad’s skills. He worked in clay along with in wood. He made some plaques of my brother’s kid’s faces when they were just past toddler stage, that are instantly recognizable. His carvings turned out to be of an extremely high quality, that I never noticed before. I was always looking at the style and trying to do something different. With my wood carving, I am lucky that a female figure looks female. His characters had detailed expressions.
Continuing with my carving and turning, I used it an excuse to also be with my mom on weekends. When my mom remarried it became an excuse to be with both of them. It has been a fulfilling hobby and continues to be so.
I needed to drive my new dad to a meeting during the mid morning to early afternoon. The weather was not spectacular for doing anything serious. The shed still has some stuff in it that needs to come out and I didn’t want to get that stuff weathered on so not much happened.
Mom needed a little shelving for small containers in her kitchen. We went to Lowes and found some material that would work. I helped her cut the boards and get them even (can’t cut straight to save the universe) using the disk sander. I took a nap and heard drilling and pounding. Later in the afternoon, I looked and mom had done a very nice job of putting together the shelving. It was made to just fit in the space available. It was also full of light containers. It cleared some of her counter space which was nice. The biggest problem was that her description of what she was doing, was not what she made. Based on her description, I was thinking of ways to improve the design. The results she did was excellent.
There are bins that go across the back of trucks to hold tools. I have one that is filled with mostly Mahogany chunks. I cleared the stuff on top of the lid, good flat area to hold stuff out of the dirt, and opened it. I only pulled out a few pieces of wood, but was able to see that the bugs were not having fun inside the bin. The smell of Camphor poured out of the box. I have several pieces in there and apparently, the Camphor drove the wood eating bugs away. There were, though a lot of broken and whole shells of lizards in the bottom of the box. I left them alone.
I took it easy the rest of the day until it was time to leave.
I have no idea what the weather will be like tomorrow. I do not know if I will accomplish anything more than I did today.
Year 17, Week 01, Day Two (week 887)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
66 degrees early morning 77 in the afternoon. That string of clouds that need potty training moved south a bit. Once or twice one wandered north, but most were nice. The sun was behind clouds most of the day but there was some sunshine in the afternoon.
I want to empty the rest of the shed and check the condition of the shelves, clean the floor really good and then start putting things back in. I walked into the shed and looked around. That looked like a lot of work so I said “NO”. And closed the doors again.
I did decide to get some wood that was out in the weather in where it was safer and not in our way. I am always surprised at how much wood I have. I have two mounded garbage cans full, a heaping storage bin full of wood pieces. The lock bin I mentioned yesterday is likely a good sized storage bin full of wood also. I then have loads of sticks and big chunks, along with boards.
As I have said before, if one chooses a project, then looks for the materials to make it, one does not have any wood to work with. If one, on the other hand, look at the materials on hand and choose the project to make, one has a life-time supply. If I worked 8 hours a day, five days a week, using just the material I have on hand, it would take a few years to use it up.
Some pieces of wood are so good I don’t have a project worthy of the wood. Others are kept simply because I might need them for something, even if it is waste wood used to hold something better on the lathe.
Several weeks back, I rebuilt the base for the lathe and cleaned the surfaces of the lathe bed where the parts slide on. I could not find the cover at the time, so spray from the liquid sunshine, and humidity, has caused the end of the lathe bed to develop a light rust coat. In emptying the shed, I found the cover. I still have to clean the surface again, but now I don’t think it will get much worse.
The past winters have been wetter than normal. Usually at this time, they are talking about conserving water already. This winter, like the past few, have been very wet. It is great for the plants. It is great to keep the water rationing people quiet. It is not great for outside work. A lot of my woodworking has to be planned around the chances of weather. Dry weather tends to breed production as one can get out and work without having to check the sky every few minutes.
I am hoping to actually make some sawdust next week. I also would like to finish cleaning the shed and then start loading it up again. I also have a wood turning club meeting Thursday. I have nothing to show for the past couple months.
I will see what I actually do next weekend.
A bunch of my collected sticks with other stuff
a big load of pieces and chunks to work with
some larger chunks on my lathe bed
My first four carvings I ever did. On the Right is number one. On the left is number 4. The sailor is made from a cedar board.
Another view of the first four carving, especially showing the full shape of number 4 carving