Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wood carving gets under way

I had planned on trying wine cork carving too, but I found some small blocks of cedar from a carpentry project I hired done a while back, in the course of tracking down my tools.  That "hired done" weird construction is, I now realize, exactly like the Greek middle voice.  In classical Greek there's active, passive and middle, in case you were anxious to know this. No? oh well, moving on..

I wasn't able to lay hands on the penknife I'd hoped for, in Handsome Son's "longterm storage" his term, translation: can't find it.  He lent me a couple of small tools instead, and that reminded me that I had a set of them myself.  

I unearthed a cigar box full of useful tools, xacto handles, blades, gouges, and my old engraver, and my beloved old ballpeen hammer.  And some emery boards, just the ticket for sanding in very narrow areas, no need for emery paper.

This wasn't an attempt at an artwork, just practice in carving and a bit of gouging, and some lovely hitting with the hammer.  Very satisfying.  My hands aren't up to doing this for long, but I was happy with what I'd learned anyway.  Corks will be easier, but now I have embarked on this.

Long time since I did any carving, and the old memories came back of how to do it and what might work, and what definitely won't. And just messing about with no particular goal for the piece is a good thing to do.  As you see, I didn't draw a design first or anything like that.  I rarely do, preferring the alla prima approach, posh term meaning you let the materials tell you what to do, instead of telling them what you plan.

Listened to an ancient radio serial on YouTube, a Temple detective series, which would have been better if some of the episodes hadn't been missing, including the last ones!  Probably lost long ago by the BBC.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Loose ends before the new year, mine, that is

I just heard about the snow forecast for Houston, really unusual for them, and it reminded me that I knitted a lot of pieces for use by Warm Up America, which is also based in Texas.  Right, that's been on my mind.  Enough for a small afghan already knitted.  And still sitting in the studio, waiting to go.

So I looked them up here and found that they currently have a need for knitted pieces for Hurricane Harvey survivors.  No sooner said than did.  Found the package of knitted parts, wrapped, trip to PO and now it's on its way to Carrollton, Texas, where they tell me volunteers will assemble the parts into what's needed. Arriving Monday.  If you check on that link, there are other current needs you might want to think about, too.

And while I'm at loose ends, I'm actually the opposite of those people who have many wips at any one time, can't tolerate it for long, where was I, yes,  right next to the Warm Up bag was the first of yet another pair of Aunt Maggie's slippers, which I now realize, has a destination. The yarn is from Shepherd Susie's flock, spun and hand dyed, and knits up a treat. And it now has a deadline.

All this is a way of clearing out a bit before I embark on my winter pursuits.  And my personal new year. The fall pursuit, of the Chinese ink calligraphy, is now a modest skill in my repertoire, and enabled me to do a fleet of cards and envelopes and artists' books for friends for the season.  I  learned what I needed, and now I'm looking at other artforms.

Marbling, which I did, and taught, years ago, is a re emerging interest, and I invested in a set of suitable inks.  That will be useful for art, for images on all sorts of surfaces, including wood.

Which brings me to my next adventure, whittling.  I have done a small amount of this, when I was a miniaturist, creating cabriole legs from solid blogs of balsa wood, for furniture.  But I fancy collecting fallen wild cherry branches from around here, seasoned and dry, and use them for carving with an xacto blade.  And possibly marbling, we'll see.  Always fancied carving myself a spoon, for some reason.  Or other useful objects. I'm aware that cherry is a tricky wood wrt food, though, cyanide, you know. It's why you don't give it to little birds for perches.  Some other wood probably better for a spoon.

But first I have to study a couple of books written for kids, on wood carving and whittling.  I always go first to kids' texts, because they take nothing for granted, and with an adult learner what you take for granted is often what does you in.

So here's to a good winter of content and making stuff. I should stop and give a shoutout to  Cathy Cawley, long gone on her adventures, and not now in touch, a wonderful person I used to work with.  She always liked to have a project for the summer, and I've taken on that great notion. I wonder if she still does it?  If not, she can consider it safely delegated.

Speaking of seasons, I was nabbed to be a presenter at next March's Maker's Day at the library where I had my artist books.  They're hoping for an artist book make and take, so I'll see what's easy enough for all ages, and doable in one session.  I can think back to my Artist in Residence stint last spring, where I did a different artist book every week, and see what went down well.

It's all go around here, even when I mean to just sit with my hands folded.