Allen Stichler – Wood Carving

Bespoke Ornamental Wood Carvings & Tree Sculpture

    Dec 30

Wildlife in Harmony

As I said to the customers, this was pretty much the perfect job ~ relatively local (being about 5 minutes away from home), a nice setting, and regular cups of coffee ~ what more could you want?!

The idea was to incorporate some of the wildlife seen in the garden on a felled sycamore trunk; it was an interesting shape, splitting into two then coming back together at the top, and it was to be concreted in position soon after completion.

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The preliminary sketch above shows how I intended to fit the stylized birds and beasts into the shape of the trunk.

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The picture above shows my trusty rusty adze, which was invaluable in this job. Chipping away large areas with a gouge would be time consuming, but the adze helped me to hack off big sections in next to no time.

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Using the shape and curvature of the split trunk to my advantage with the owl’s wings.

The next stage was the squirrel above the fox’s nose, and just like the other elements I drew him on free-hand with chalk, followed by felt tip.

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Incidentally, this area where the squirrel and dragonfly were to be situated had a fabulous zig-zag pattern on the bare wood once the bark was removed:

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The weather became a bit unpredictable at this point, with several heavy showers cutting the carving day short, so to prevent me exploding with frustration I rigged up our faithful budget-price gazebo, which although reaching the end of its lifespan was slightly better than being exposed to the lashing rain.

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The damp weather meant that I could observe the different stages of a shaggy ink cap toadstool:

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Anyway, the next step was the squirrel’s tail and a dragonfly, which mirrored the fox and the owl somewhat with their over-and-underlapping.

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From this picture you can see that I had to achieve quite a bit of depth around the squirrel’s tail to enable me to give it a sense of dipping under the tail of the dragonfly ~ again, my adze was useful in removing large chunks in a shorter time.

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I had some decisions to make with the underside of the dragonfly’s wing, as I couldn’t go too mad with the undercutting; I couldn’t make it so fragile that it would weather and drop off prematurely, but on the other hand I didn’t want to leave the wing so thick that it looked odd. I had to scoop away with a spoon gouge to ensure that the main front view was good, whilst leaving enough wood to support the wing; I also had to blend in the area next to the squirrel tail and above the dragonfly.

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Once the background was established, I finished off the wings and head/body:

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I started on some acorns and an oak leaf next, under the squirrel.

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After the oak, a horse-chestnut leaf with conkers, and a sycamore leaf.

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After three coats of Danish Oil, the trunk was set in the ground close to the house so it could be viewed from inside.

 

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