Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WIP: Carving Totem Sticks Re-Visited (part 1 of 3)

WIP= "Work in progress"

I've been in the totem pole carving mood lately. 2010 has already brought on several totem carvings, all the way from a 16 foot pole down to a 2 foot table totem. As seen in the picture to the right I haven't tackled what I call a "stick" totem or perhaps a "limb" totem for about a year now.

These little totems are one of my favorites because it provides the golden example for making something from nothing. Yes, basswood is wonderful but still nothing thrills the depths of my carving psych more that to pick up a fallen limb after a wind storm then carve up something for posterity to examine. Rescuing it from the forest floor a certain tree limb, in this case a tulip poplar, would now have the opportunity not to rot back into the good earth, but perhaps become a wonderful admired object. Nothing thrills me more than found wood carving.

Although the first picture above shows the design that I first sketched on the stick of a Thunderbird on top, a duck in the middle, and a master builder on the bottom... the first step in prepping the stick is sawing it into four sides. As you can see in the picture to the left I flared the bottom of the stick outwards which will provide a built-in stand when completed.

I might add that you should exercise extreme caution when cutting any round object such as a found tree limb on the bandsaw. Doing so without proper support could result in not only a ruined piece of wood but the increased likelihood of severe bodily injury. Please exercise extreme caution when selecting a method for cutting a rounded tree limb because your safety is my ultimate concern.

As seen in the picture to the immediate right I also used a piece of the same limb to saw out a 5/16" thick 2" X 6" block that I will use for the Thunderbird wings. Notice that I have also notched out a tight fitting slot to fit the wings into later on when all of the pole carving is done. For right now it's a lot easier to carve without the wings attached. The measurements for the body of the totem stick is 9" tall and the "square" of the pole is 1-1/8" thick.
Looking at the picture to the left I started this totem at the top with the Thunderbird. This mythical bird of the Indians is one of my favorite to carve with it's tuft of feathers rustling in the wind above it's little head. I had some fun with this bird and curved back his beak on both sides in an arc that went most of the way to the rear side. I used my little palm u-gouge to pluck out the breast feathers then went on to make various decorative cuts over the entire body and I just let the "Great Spirit" guide me as I went. No patterns, no pictures... I just let my hands do the thinking. That's relaxation at it's best!

I'll post another update soon.

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