Sunday, April 25, 2010

WIP: Carving A Two Foot Table Totem Pole- (Part 2)

 WIP= "Work in Progress"

Some time back I began posting the progress of my latest totem pole where part 1 can be found here. As you recall it is 23" tall and will be the host for five characters; the eagle on top, then a raven, a frog, a beaver, then a bear on bottom. As I covered the eagle in the first posting I will now continue with the raven.

As seen in the picture to the right the first picture shows the initial roughing-out of the raven. Like all of the characters, this is the first carving that takes place and the only carving where I place the wood in a table vise and work with my larger knives using a mallet. As you can see quite a bit can be accomplished with relative ease during this roughing-out phase.

The next picture shows that I have smoothed up the cuts left behind by my larger knives and mallet while in the vise. Also I have used a pencil to sketch out the eyes and beak lines. I am still amazed at how great this tulip poplar is carving and it's just about as nice as basswood... but I won't quite go there just yet. The final picture shows the completed bird less the paint so now I can move on to the little frog.

Just below the raven is seen the little obscure square block that will gradually become the frog. Although hard to see in the picture I have lightly used my pencil to sketch in the rough outline of the green creature. Looking closely can also be seen exactly where the frog will be located as seen by the darker uncarved wood.

The three pictures show most of the frog completed but later I will paint in the fine detail of the little eyes and the wort's. The  frog wasn't too difficult and I would consider this a flat relief carving. Other variations could include carving the frog "around" the pole which I'm sure would look very appealing  but this is what I did for this pole.

By carving in a flat relief style, this gave me a nice area on both sides of the frog for adding some bonus decorative carving. Therefore I added a variety of Indian symbols which make the pole more interesting.

Next I'll go to the beaver and as usual the first picture to the right shows it just after removing the wood from the vise where I used my larger chisels and mallet for a rough-out. A lot of the carving on this creature was simply removing the rough outer wood and producing a smooth surface, then removing wood where necessary to make the carving stand out... especially around the legs on each side.

Beavers are one of my favorite characters to carve on a totem pole because you have those two gigantic front teeth and an interesting "checked" tail. The teeth and that big flat tail make the beaver unique and I always get excited about working on them.

As seen to the left I finish carving the bear which is the final character on this table totem pole. The bear provides the strength upon which all else rests and some people consider the bottom of a totem pole as the most important part in symbolism or story telling.

 The bear is the final installment for part 2 of this series and I will next move on to carving a set of wings and making a nice stand from western white cedar. After that I will show you the final totem pole in full color after the final finish.

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