Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet "Swamp Man Sam" (A Cypress Knee Project)

Here's a neat little cypress knee that I picked up last week then finished painting it this weekend. It's about 10" tall and these smaller knees are the ones that I like best for carving. It's a convenient size for tucking inside a cargo pocket then pulling it out whenever a moment to carve can be found. Like this one, cypress knees bring birth to some of my most hilarious carvings because you have to go with the wood which is quite a difference from your average "squared" basswood block.

If you look closely there is a little story being told by the carving. Ole Swamp Sam down below has got his swishy tongue ready and his beady eyes fixed on the little purple dotted lizard that is perched just above. It's quite a comical piece which has already brought many smiles. 

As you can see from the pictures above I first tried to take advantage of the knots, bumps, and free-form twists found naturally in the cypress knee. There was nothing planned out with this carving in the beginning and I just let the wood gradually find it's own story. I first began with the mouth where I made use of one "bump" of wood for shaping the tip of the tongue. After adding teeth and lips I then moved up the wood using a twisted section for its funky nose and then of course, those beady eyes. With a bit more thought I got the idea for the lizard and then the complete story came full-circle.

This was a fun carving project and if you haven't yet discovered the joys of carving cypress knees then you're in for a treat.