Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Woodspirit in Black Locust

During the last couple of days I've had the opportunity to teach a quick woodcarving class on woodspirits. The complete carving took us just a bit over an hour yesterday afternoon then today we put the final stain and finish on it.

I had about 5 students help me with this project and they were fired up and proud to be helping. As you can see in the picture to the right they chose a barkless slit about 2' long and 5" wide in a black locust tree. At first I cringed in serious doubt because locust is one of the hardest woods around our parts and only hickory is probably harder. My head immediately had visions of broken carving knife blades that could cost me as much as $75 each to replace. It's happened to me before so I approached this tree with caution.

As everyone watched in anticipation I made the first few cuts outlining the nose and eye-wells with my v-parting tool. I was very careful and made my cuts very shallow until I could get a feel for this particular tree. As you see by the red circles in the pictures to the left a multitude of creepy crawlers, ants, and bugs were in full military patrol with all the hammering going on upon their tree.

The carving went better than expected and with small calculated cuts I decided that the locust was doable. As several of the surrounding pictures indicate, I allowed  the kids an opportunity to do some of the carving with specific instructions as they enjoyed making the cuts. Carving the beard is not too difficult and a good place for kids to get a feel for the carving. Basically they just tapped the large v-parting tool with the wooden mallet trying to keep a smooth flow of the cuts with no crisscrossing.They did an amazingly good job!

With the carving finished we all initiated the new woodspirit as an official member of the group with a pinky kiss.  One by one, we each kissed the tip of our little finger then quickly gave the spirit a fast tapping. It was now there to serve, please, and protect us from all that roamed the wooded forest around us.

The boy seen in the picture to the right was one of my most loyal students and he volunteered to haul the gallon can of finishing stain about a half mile to the carving so I allowed him the high honor of applying the final finish. After this "honey-brown" stain was on he couldn't hardly keep his eyes off the new woodspirit and like the others, he would repeatedly walk past it in admiration. These students did a great job and couldn't be prouder of the new woodspirit friend that has found a new home guarding the entrance to their campsite.

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