Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Ornie Exchange

I participated in the Christmas Ornament Exchange on the Woodcarving Illustrated forum again this year.  Last time was in 2010, not sure why I haven't done it more, its a lot of fun.  8 signed up this year, including one we send to the magazine as way of thanks for hosting the forum for us.  I made little elephants with Santa hats, based on the baby elephant in Tom Hindes book 20-Minute Whittling Projects.  They took me more than 20 minutes each, I never am as fast as the authors.  Thanks for a great book, Tom.  Tom's a good whittler, and a good teacher too IMO.  If you get a chance to pick up his book, I recommend it.

I thought I'd run through some of the steps I take on a project like this, starting with a pic of a finished elepehant:



And before paint:


When planning a whittling, I like to think about what makes the subject unique, or what features I need to steer the viewer's imagination in the right direction.  Since I don't 'do' reality, imagination is required when looking at my 'work'.

Thats an easy list to make when the subject is an elephant- trunk of course, big ears (African ears are large, Indian ears not so much), tree trunk legs, big round body & butt, and a ridiculoulsy small tail.  That's a long list, covering the animal from tip to bottom.  jSometimes you only get one thing.

Once I've thought about the features I want, I shoot for a full size sketch/pattern on whatever paper is nearby.  This one was easy-  Tom included a nice little line drawing in his book, an easy starting place.  Had to think a little about what makes a Santa hat too- fur brim, ball on top, red color- easy stuff there too.  The first pattern looked like this:


I started to think about grain direction and actually whittling this little guy, and it didn't ake long to realize the kink in the hat was going to be a nightmare.  Grain had to go the long way along the trunk, making that hook in the hat tough or impossible to complete without breaking.  NOTE: I use a knife only, which imposes restrictions on the work; using a dremel or similar power carver would have make the bent hat possible.

So before I even cut one out of wood I modified the pattern:

Scissor snip

I used this pattern to trace one on wood and started whittling.  I'm likely to make some changes after the first.  That is one reason why I like to do repeats- the whittling evolves as I go, I love that process.
Once I've done the first, and made any changes, the next thing is a more durable pattern:


I use card stock, and include notes on the size blank I need for each.  this pattern will hang out in the shop near the saw.

I actually made another change after this- the space between the front and back legs morphed from a U-shape to a single saw cut.  

I can separate the legs with a few cuts that extend up into the belly.

There's a few things on my elephant that depart from reality.  Elephants actually have quite a long bit of belly between the front & back legs- mine have none. I didn't put eyes on them either.  I made up the transition from face to trunk, and varied it from one to the next.  I found a couple I preferred, but can guarantee none of them are anatomically correct.  I don't mind any of that- none if it detracts from creating the impression of an elephant.

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