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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Roman the Gnome Hits the Road

I told you he was evolved- he left on Mailabout yesterday (he wanted to go Walkabout but his legs are a little short for the distances he had in mind)

His first stop is in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, additional stops at this point are scheduled in Maryland, Connecticut and the Carolinas. He's promised to stay in touch, but did not file a set itinerary- I have no idea how long he will stay at each stop, or how long he will be gone, or even if he will ever make it back. He's traveling light, since he has no possessions. fortunately he's a quiet house guest and rarely makes a mess. Sometimes strange things happen when he is around, for which he takes the blame or credit without comment or apology. Its a gnome thing I think...

He's actually traveling vicariously for me, its a trip I'd love to take myself. most of his stops are with internet friends of mine, people I've gotten to know over the last 3 or 4 years but never met in person. I'm looking forward to the journey, and will post updates here whenever I hear from him.

Check on Roman's progress in his Travel Journal page, the link is on the right side =>
We'll post pics and comments on his trip there as they become available, and you can follow his trip on the push pin map.

Ain't Google cool?

Goodbye, Roman, and good luck.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Particularly the evolution of Gnome, ala BfloBif. So far I have whittled 3 gnomes, they were not on my list of things to do untill I was 'commissioned' to do one. I thought I did not want to do the same thing everybody else is doing, and I had no experience with the biped form. I was especially leery of my ability to whittle a face that did not look like it was inspired by Picasso. Don't get me wrong, he was a great artist and worthy of respect. I like my whittling to require the user to apply their imagination, just not that much...

But I digress.
I whittled the first gnome and concentrated on the facial features- relationship of eyes to nose, eyes to ears, etc. Well, location of eyes, since he does not have any. He turned out OK, avoided the burn barrel, so he was a success of sorts. I ran out of wood by the time I got down to his feet tho, and it shows. Have you ever seen such a short pair of legs? They are barely long enough to reach the ground.

Gnome #2 is a little better, I think the face is
improved, he has a little more detail, still no eyes but he has cheekbones, and that's a start. I left a little more wood for the body and legs, so they look more in proportion. His feet actually look like they can support him, and possibly be capable of locomotion. There is still an issue- his shoulders ended up narrower than his head, I ran out of wood again, just in a different place this time.

While I was whittling these first two I had the beginnings of a picture in my head of what I really wanted. I find that my best whittlings, the ones I am happiest with, all start with a clear picture of where I want to go before I pick up a knife. I got my fat little pot bellied gnome this time, with rudimentary eyes even. I did not run out of wood, he doesn't look like he was made from a square block, his proportions are good, and he's smiling- definitely a success.
He's made of basswood, the first two are made of paulownia. For a finish (the pic shows him stained but not clear coated) he got one coat of Minwax natural, brushed on repeatedly and allowed to drain for a few minutes, I wanted the wood to absorb as much as possible, then a coat of Minwax golden oak, brushed on and rubbed off. I use a paper towel to remove as much stain as I can from the high spots only- don't push down into the cracks and crannys, I tried to leave the stain there to help accent the details. It worked out pretty good, I'm very happy with the result. I'll experiment more with this process, using different materials, the Minwax stains were handy so I tried 'em. They are a good product, and easy to use, widely available; some people will turn their noses up at them, they are wrong. For a top coat hell get a dip in a mix of polyurethane, mineral spirits, and tung oil I think (equal parts of each). Its a nice flat penetrating stain that offers good surface protection.
The point is, the more we whittle the more we improve, evolve, and so do our whittlings. After all, they are part of us, aren't they?

Happy whittling, BfloBif

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding Time to Whittle

As I cruise around the web, reading what other whittlers/carvers post, I'm jealous of the prolific whittlers. I'm not one of them, I'm lucky to create a dozen items a year, some folks out there can turn that out overnight. (Note these are the people who don't necessarily have jobs, doesn't matter I'm still jealous).

Making time to whittle is a problem for me, for a couple of reasons. There are things I should do instead- my job, take care of the house and family....

At the end of the day when I sit down for a couple hours I'm often under motivated to make a mess and then clean it up. TV and a refreshing beverage just seem like the better choice.

So lately I've been whittling over my second cup of coffee in the morning. I always have two, after that I either start my job or get my butt up and get to work on something cosmically more important and less selfish than whittling. I suppose if I was getting paid to whittle it would move up the scale of cosmic importance, but that seems as far out of reach as getting paid to nap. Not gonna happen anytime soon. Like any other project, even a few minutes a day results in progress, and the little things I like to whittle get finished pretty quickly. My office is hardwood floor, and needs to be swept daily anyway, so that all works out pretty well for me.

You don't need a lot of time, there's no need to start and finish something in one sitting. I probably have an hour into the little dog in the photo, over two days, one more day like that and he should be done.

So make the time, one way or another. Leave your knife and a piece of wood where you can see them daily. Carry your knife in your pocket. You may find yourself whittling while hubby goes into Home Depot, or while wifey cruised the mall. I have a friend who whittles every time he finds himself in a line- waiting for dinner reservations or whatever. Make your mess out on the porch, or make your kids sweep up your mess. I actually cheat and dump the chips into the nearest houseplant rather than walk to the garbage can across the room, it hasn't died yet. I know one whittler keeps her knife and wood in a plastic shoe box and keeps all the shavings inside until the project is done (I don't know why).

The more I pick up a knife the easier it is for me to find time to do it again, especially when I have a Work In Progress (WIP).

Chips are not born, they need to be made. Happy Whittling - BfloBif