My carving journey . . .


While I have collected a few carving and shaping tools over the years to 'shape' some components of my turned and flat work, it is only now that I have retired that I finally have time to tackle some carved pieces just for the fun of it. Here is the journey so far.




I found it was one thing to have the time and tools to start carving, but another thing entirely to decide on what to carve! At this stage I have no desire to replicate life in sculptures, or try chip carving on flat boards etc, but I think I would rather just create attractive shapes with no real identity that might make people think about what they are looking at. It was only seeing an article on Hape Kiddle and his work with Mobius forms that really triggered my senses and gave me some direction to make a start. The notion of a shape that has only one edge and one surface absolutely does my head in, in the nicest possible way!
Started out with the most basic mobius form using a strip of plastic with the ends stapled together as a model. Decided to use some rubbish timber I won't miss if I botch it and dragged out some Viburnum from a shrub I had to remove at our last place. Turns out it's not such a bad timber after all. The piece is about 190mm long and about 10mm at its thickest. This thing took me about 12 hours to complete while I tried all the different gadgets I've accumulated and got my head around what I was doing . . . but I'm pretty happy with the result and can only get faster . . . right?!?!


For Mobius II, I thought I would stretch the 'strip' a bit to what you might call a 'bib' shape to see how it affected things. Worked out quite nicely in a piece of Southern Silky Oak and only took me about 5 hours this time. It is around 140mm at its widest and 7mm at its thickest point.


With Mobius III, a bit of Orange Boxwood seemed like a good choice to try going thinner for a touch of elegance. At about 4mm at its thickest and roughly 80mm across, I really like the way this one finished.


I wanted Mobius IV to be small enough to manipulate in your hand so its palm-sized and carved from a piece of Yellowberry bush. I went for a concave edge on this one and love the look and feel of it even if it was a lot of extra work (for an amateur).


Curiosity got the better of me for Mobius V and I went for the 'mathematical' version of a mobius. Using physical strips as models doesn't allow you to see this version, which is basically a flat strip that twists 180 degrees as it travels around a full circle. Just leaving it at that would have looked pretty boring so I carved out the middle of the surface to look like it had been pulled apart. Turns out that doing this also accentuates the 'one edge' characteristic of the form. Carving it from White Beech was a delicate task and as the timber is not all that strong in cross-grain, I went with suspending it in a Rose Mahogany frame so it is less likely to be rough-handled.


Just for a change of pace at this point I took on a commission to carve a pair of salad servers to go with a Mallee burl bowl I had turned for the client - not too shabby for my first spoons I reckon! Carved from Scrub Leopardwood.



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Mobius VI

Mobius VI is the biggest to date and far more ambitious than I expected when I started. I went with Hape Kiddles advice and used plasticine to make my model but due to the size of it and our average temperature here, I couldn't stop the plasticine collapsing under its own weight without a wire base to build on. The problem I found with that was that if the wire wasn't quite the shape you wanted, you had to restart from scratch. I eventually got a rough shape I liked and made a start thinking I could refine the shape as I went - not so easy in practice.
From lessons learnt along the way, I left enough wood on one end this time to give me something to secure the work by and then interrupted the flow by taking the time to make a carving seat.
Made the whole thing from offcuts and stuff I had lying around with the only money spent on buying an old stool for $5 from the tip shop. Utilising my chuck holder that normally mounts on the lathe banjo for carving bowl feet means I can set the workpiece at just about any angle I want and slide the seat along to the most comfortable position.
Certainly made roughing out and refining the mobius so much easier. I also made a small work table to fit on the chair for working on anything else that might take too long to do standing up. Very handy while carving away the mounting spigot and refining/finish sanding etc too.
Cast a rod for my own back with the edge design on this one - that 'seam' was sooooo much work - don't know if I'll go down that path again.
Pretty happy with my choice of Jacaranda for Mobius VI as it was good to work with and suited the design.
One surprising thing about the Mobius forms is how difficult it is to choose which photos to publish as the forms look so different from every tiny change of view.
The pics at right and below show how the form also sits happily at an angle as it balances on the 'scutes' (bumps on a crocodiles back).



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