Monday, August 31, 2009

Order of the Arrow Ordeal Weekend #2 (and more carving!)

If you ever doubted the future generation of leaders, then you should have seen what I saw at the Order of the Arrow Ordeal #2 last weekend at Camp Raven Knob. In my recent posting of the last Ordeal on the weekend of August 22 found here, I earned my own membership in the Order through a weekend of "scant foot" and "arduous labor". This last weekend I was glad to return and serve as an Elangomat (leader) in a group of about 15 new candidates. I was very proud of the youth (and two adult candidates) in my group who definitely re-newed my faith in the next generation. They worked extremely hard and almost non-stop for more than eight hours then were up past midnight for a full day of work, cheerful service, and sacred ceremonial procedures for membership. They more than passed their test for becoming "Arrowmen" in the Order and I was very proud of them all.
Order of the ArrowImage via Wikipedia

Each year the Order of the Arrow Wahissa Lodge 118 (Boy Scouts of America) holds two Ordeals for new candidates to be considered for membership. This last weekend was the second and final Ordeal for 2009 and there were about 65 candidates who became new members. In another 10 months of continued service in their troop, active participation in the Order, and upon completing several other challenges they (we) will then have the opportunity to bring our membership "full-circle" thus progressing from Arrowmen to the Brotherhood.

Membership in the Order has it's privileges such as being welcomed to all the yearly events which consist of service to others combined with a lot of fun camaraderie among brothers, and probably more fun than anyone could imagine.

During the final ceremonies at this Ordeal I was also proud to wear my first neckerchief slide. I was determined to wear it this week so I started it last Monday and finished it just in time last Thursday.

It is a small totem pole boasting a bear, frog, fox, and a bald eagle towering proudly on top. As you can see in the pictures to the left it is very small at only 3" tall and a wing spread of 2".

When the carving was finished I attached the wings into a carved notch with wood glue and a small dowel rod. As you can imagine it was all very delicate work which required a lot of focus and careful handling but using basswood made the work both enjoyable and successful. The slide got a LOT of compliments at the Ordeal so I'm now working on a lot of other new ideals for neckerchief slides. What a great week!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

WIP- Part 1: Chainsaw Carved Bear

WIP= "work-in-progress"

I know that I've got a lot of "works-in-progress" at the moment but I suppose that having a lot of irons in the fire is just the way that I'm wired. So thus, I now present my latest carving which is a small bear. This little cutie will be up for auction at our camps annual fall fundraiser so I'll probably be positing a lot more projects between now and then if you'd like to see what's "in the fire" from time to time.

This afternoon I had a good full hour to sneak in some carving and as the above pictures indicate I managed to get the bear roughed-out and prepped for further detailing whenever I can get back to him. I used a Husqvarna 16" chainsaw but will scale down to a much smaller saw for the detail, then finish up with my carving knives for the super fine detailing.

I've been chainsawing bears for several years now but this little fellow brings a couple of new challenges. As seen in the pictures above this bear is holding up a sign where I will engrave a cute little message (yet to be revealed). This was actually an idea that I gleaned from one of my students this spring when he requested a rough-out for a small bear holding a sign for one of my afternoon woodcarving sessions. I've chainsawed one bear several years ago where I attached a sign separately but never before have I attempted to carve it from the solid log itself.... until now. I figured out how to do it on a small bear first for my carving student, then cut it out on the bandsaw. This method of bear carving soon became popular with many students requesting the rough-outs so I couldn't see why I couldn't do it with a BIG bear using the chainsaw. Thus far I'm quite satisfied with the results and am anxious to get back to it.

The second challenge that I'm presently contemplating is making this a black bear. Before I've always gone with an oil cedar stain (and I still might again) but I'm kicking the idea around in my head right now. I'll need to do a little further research with my friends in the chainsaw carving chat rooms so I'll let you know what I eventually decide. Black bears are what we have living in the forests of the southern Appalachians so black sounds right to me.

Well, that's it for now and I'll post more progress as the project proceeds, but don't be surprised if a couple more works-in-progress' pop up beforehand. Hey! It's just the way that I'm wired! :) Thanks for browsing around the blog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WIP-Part 2 Sourwood Woodspirit

WIP ="work-in-progress"

Finally it is finished! This carving has been sitting proudly overlooking all who entered my shop for several weeks but I have just got back to finish him today. Although I was pleased with the paint job and finish somehow he ended up with just a bit more of a "surprised" look on his face than I intended. But that's ok because that is the look that I'd expect for him to have upon a stranger entering the room like, "Whooooooa... For whom is this entering my room?" After all he was sitting there on that lonely shelf for quite a while so perhaps he should also be evaluated for therapy too! :)

If you'd like to see the first posting on this "work-in-progress" then simply scroll back to August 16th or just click here. Thanks for checking him out!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Order of the Arrow Ordeal Weekend(and a little carving!)

This last weekend I spent one of the most arduous but tremendously rewarding weekends of my life participating in my Order of the Arrow ordeal at the 3,2oo acre Raven Knob Boy Scout Reservation. I was one of about 163 candidates to participate but I was probably the only one who was actually a candidate in 2008 but it took me a year before I was able to schedule my Ordeal.

Order of the Arrow is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America and is entirely youth led. Adults can also be elected by their troop as candidates but they can't hold elected office however we are encouraged to offer advice. I was greatly humbled and surprised while attending an Order of the Arrow ceremony last summer when with more than a thousand scouters present, my name was announced to come forward for tapping by the lodge Chief. I honestly had no idea nor did I expect such an honor so I hesitated for a few moments until I was convinced that I really did need to step forward. What an honor.

Due to various complications in my schedule I wasn't able to attend an Ordeal last summer but I made sure that I was there this last weekend for the first of two Ordeals offered in 2009. Ceremonies are sacred in the Order so I won't reveal what happened because (1) I can't and, (2) I wouldn't want to spoil this unique experience for another prospective candidate. I'll just say that it was an enormously meaningful and powerful experience that I will never forget. In a nutshell an Ordeal is meant to emphasize service to others and self-sacrifice.

During this day of sacrifice I managed to grab a few short moments to carve the arrow assigned to me and to be worn throughout the Ordeal. In the beginning it was just a simple cut-out on the scroll saw but I knew that I'd want to have a real memento from my experience to remind me of what I went through for many years to come. When I got home yesterday evening I completed the Arrow with some woodburning and painting, then I attached the Wahissa Lodge 118 lanyard.

This has been quite a weekend where I made a lot of new friends and I'm looking forward to serving for many years to come.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WIP: Part 1: Carving a Tinny-Tiny Gnome From A Poplar Limb

WIP= "Work in Progress"

About a month ago one of my students asked if he could carve a gnome for his sister. Alex is quite skilled with his hands in woodshop class and I thought that if anyone could pull off this somewhat complex caricature carving for a beginner carver, then it would be him. After about a week I found a gnome pattern in one of my old carving books at home and made a few copies then during our next woodcarving class we got started.

As the pictures above indicate, when I was cutting it out from a nice sized poplar limb that I had picked up off the ground earlier I knew that I also wanted to try my hand at this project then perhaps I could help guide Alex on his gnome as we carved them together. When copying the pattern onto the wood I just sketched the gnome freestyle right onto the wood then cut it out so not only are both our gnomes unique and different, they are also unique to those in the book. That way they'll really be "ours" when completed.

So far we've had about 3 one-hour carving sessions to work on them but Alex is already much further ahead of me since I do spend most of my time moving around to all of the other students while also making sure that all safety guidelines for carving are being followed. Since I don't carve many caricatures my own skill in this area is not the strongest so I've actually picked up a few good hints from Alex on how to tackle certain carving situations on my own gnome.

We've really been having a blast with this gnome project and I'm sure glad that Alex has inspired me the teacher to share this adventure in carving with him. The kids in my classes have some of the greatest ideas! I'm so inspired that I'm now dreaming up a plan to carve an entire family of little tiny gnomes that will possibly include the mom & dad, the little kids, and of course the family dog with his own pointed gnome hat. I'll post more updates as our progress continues.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

WIP-Part 1: Sourwood Woodspirit

WIP= "Work In Progress"

I managed to get this thick-bearded woodspirit mostly carved last week. I picked up a piece of well seasoned sourwood about a foot tall and about 5" in diameter. This chunk of wood had originally been slotted for a bear carving by one of my students but for one reason or another he set it aside... (and I picked it up). I decided to go with the thick fire-flame looking hair and beard which I haven't done in a while. Such beard and hair give the woodspirit such a bold look that can't be found with any other methods of carving it and I've grown to like this particular style.

I probably spent about an hour on it so far and I hope to finish it up this coming week if I can squeeze in a few minutes for painting and finishing. I was thinking about mounting a short red stubby candle on top but haven't decided on that for sure just yet. I'll post a finished picture shortly... that is if it doesn't embarrass me too much! Thank's for taking a look.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ladybug Walking Stick # 2

Lots of folks really liked the ladybug walking stick that I carved a couple of months ago and the original post can be found here. I therefore decided to carve another one similar to the first for our September fundraiser auction. I think that the legs on this one were just a tad longer so I'm calling her my "daddy long-leg" ladybug.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Making a Sycamore Whistle

I just found a good video with very clear instructions on how to make a sycamore whistle that I thought you'd enjoy. I have never used sycamore in making my own whistles but Nathan says that sycamore is a member of the maple family. I've always used maple or willow but now I'll have to see how sycamore works as it seemed to work well in the video.

I'd say that Nathan made his whistle 90% just like I've learned to make them but I picked up a couple of new hints to try. I really liked the way that he cut out what I call the "music chamber" just beyond the notch. I had always completely removed this wood but Nathan carefully carved it out leaving a connecting shaft which makes the complete whistle a much stronger unit.

If you've never made a slip bark whistle and would like to teach a child a fantastic lesson in wild crafting then I can't think of anything better than a slip bark whistle to capture their attention for a few minutes. My dad first taught me to make them more than forty-something years ago and I've never forgotten it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

WIP- Part 2: Carving a Totem Stick

This totem stick is now finished. I decided to use a very thinned acrylic paint finish then went with a flat, satin polyurethane coat. I also used "Treasure" Crystal Cote to give the eyes a distinct shine however I didn't have it on yet in the pictures posted above. Happy carving!