2 November 2014

Updated Cueball Joe, or: how things sometimes go wrong in woodcarving.

I don't normally do much carving for the bazaars and craft season.  Carving is very skilled (I'm so so at best) and time consuming work, too much so to be put on a craft table in a church basement where customers come and say things like: "Hey, that's nice.  I'll give you five bucks for it."

But I thought I would give it a shot this year.  I decided to try and do a small nativity set and see if can give it a decent price and still move it.  So I found some plans for a nativity set on line and took a shot at carving them out.  They are ok, as far as carving plans go.   The clothes are mostly featureless, which is okay since I didn't want to spend hours upon hours carving drapery and just bleeding all the profit out of it.

However, I did hit a snag when carving Joseph  For some reason, the plans gave Joseph a mullet.  That's not a terrible idea, as the hair would then cover both the neck and ears, which can be a little tricky for carving.  My problem came when I was carving in the front of his hair- in truth I was close to giving Joe a pompadour- when my carving tool snagged on the wood a little and blew out a large chip of his hair. The chip fell to the floor and became utterly indistinguishable from the other chips lying on the floor.  It was not going to be found, so I couldn't glue it back in.  The upside was that it was only hair, and if I merely changed his hairstyle he would be fine.  The other downside was that the only style that now fit was bald.

I've worked on Joe a bit since I took the photo.  I've shortened up the beard and worked on the hands.  I'll put up another picture as soon as the sky clears enough to have some decent light.   He doesn't look too bad, though he looks a bit old.  Oh well.

Joseph was an old man
And a very old man was he,
When he married Mary
In the land of Galilee...

I wonder how many of the great sculptures of old turned out the way they did because a chunk fell out of the wrong place and the sculptor had to improvise away from the original plan.

The other problem is the prominent glue lines- they are most obvious on Mary and Jesus (not shown).  I had to glue up some boards to get a block thick enough for the carving.  Usually the glue line is nearly invisible, but this time it stands out like a sore thumb, which means I'll have to paint these if I want to get rid of these lines.  Which means more time spent on this, which means, assuming they sell, that I'll be paying myself about a dime an hour.

UPDATE:  I've done some more work on Joseph.  He looks a little better, I think, although he bears a slight resemblance to Charles Darwin.

He's supposed to be holding onto his staff.  I'll add that later after the painting is done.  Now, onto the baby.

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