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21  Carved Dodo Shelf in Completed Projects by Wulf on: February 20, 2016 07:23:17 PM

I decided I would make a carved wooden shelf for my partner ilovesnails in the Dodo Swap. The topic wasn't just the late bird itself but any other extinct creatures, and I'd originally thought of carving a prehistoric undersea scene, with trilobites, dinosaur-like fish and other extinct species. Looking around for images and ideas, I thought of the terracotta decorations designed by Alfred Waterhouse for the Museum of Natural History in London. I remembered there were some good prehistoric fish designs there, but when I got out the book I have on the museum, none of the fish were really what I was looking for. But I came across the bas-relief Waterhouse drew of a dodo, and decided that was what I had to do. It would certainly be easier than creating my own design from scratch, and it was a beautiful piece of work.

The size of the shelf was determined by a couple of 1-inch thick boards I had in my stash. They were of a very white, very even-grained wood (something like limewood), and I had scavenged them from a shipping crate. They had some nail-holes (stained with rust) and a few scars that I would have to work around, but there was just enough wood to glue up to make a shelf back about 18 in. (45 cm) wide, and a narrow trim around the shelf, which could be made of plywood.

I printed out Waterhouse's drawing at the size I needed, and traced the outline of the bird and the frame onto the board. Then I used an electric router to take away half the thickness everywhere except the bird and the outer moulding. This would save a lot of time in carving down the background to make the bird stand out.

Unfortunately I was being so careful not to slip and cut into the wood I intended to save, that I didn't notice that the depth of the router started to slip and it was suddenly going much too deep. Angry I had to go back and cut another piece of the wood (fortunately there were two small scraps left!) and carefully fit it in to replace the spoiled background area. Then, with the full drawing traced onto the two levels of wood, I could start carving.

I started by roughing out the dodo, which went quite quickly (whatever this wood is, it was lovely to carve). Then I began the much slower job of roughing in the background foliage.

The first step was to cut back all the depth behind and between the reeds. This was hard to do, because it was quite deep and the spaces were small. I used an X-Acto knife and my smallest carving gouges (even the micro chisels I usually only use for carving rubber stamps!) and worked away at it until I had it all at least crudely done. It would be easier to clean it up once the surrounding leaves had been carved back further.

From here on it was just a matter of painstakingly working my way up and down across the background, carving each leaf and stem so it was no longer parallel to the surface plane (this is the simplest trick to make bas relief look good - no flat planes) and to make them overlap each other in a way that gave the illusion of depth. Of course I only had about 3/8 in. (5 mm) of actual depth to work with, so it was a slow process to make sure I didn't carve a leaf too deep here when it would have to pass behind another one a little further up. I made a few blunders, of course, but I was able to correct them as I went along.

The nail holes turned out to be a constant nuisance, even though I thought I'd planned around them, and they kept popping up unexpectedly. Some I just couldn't carve out, and I had to use wood filler in them, which unfortunately does show on the finished surface if you look closely enough. Angry

Somewhere about this point the deadline to send our swap packages came and went, and I was still working. Yikes!

Finally I had it all shaped and could go back and and clean up the lowest areas that I hadn't been able to reach before. A magnifying glass was useful to catch spots where I'd missed something or where there were rough patches that needed to be smoothed over. But the dodo itself was still just roughed-in, so it had to be given a final shaping and the feathers (oh, so many feathers!) carved. A final check and a fine sanding (at least of the surfaces I could reach with sandpaper) and it was ready to attach to the shelf, which I'd already put together. Early on I'd imagined carving a frieze of ammonites (because of my partner's love of snails) around the edge, but in the end I settled on a very simple routed border instead. Much more sensible.

I used SamaN water-based stain, which took to the wood very well. I'd actually wanted a much more olive-green stain, but of course when I ran out to buy it, the local store didn't have it in stock and I had to settle for a kind of raw umber colour. But in the end I was quite happy with it, and though I intended to put on two coats of stain, it looked good with only one so I stopped there. A coat of semi-gloss water-based urethane sealed it after the stain was thoroughly dry.

While the project seemed to take forever to finish, and I ended up sending about a week and a half late Embarrassed, I enjoyed every minute of carving this. It was exactly the right combination of challenging and repetitive, and I was rather sad when I finished carving the last leaf. (Okay, I'll admit I didn't enjoy doing the feathers on the dodo much at all - that was more annoying than challenging.) It's finally made me eager to finish up a carved toilet seat that I started about two years ago!

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22  Re: Thing-A-Day February 2016 Craftalong in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 19, 2016 07:35:44 PM
That's a great haircut, Acadian, and the neck wrap is perfect to show it off!

I'm finally able to get back to some crafting for myself. (I have two swap items about to be delivered, so I'll be able to include those in my February list soon.) We had to replace our old dish drying rack recently, and the new one is too small and doesn't hold glassware well. My partner's been just setting glasses on the counter beside the rack to dry instead, but of course the water pools around them and they stay wet. So I've been wanting to find time to make a little drying mat.

Today these dish mats are mostly made of microfibre, which makes sense because it dries so quickly, but I happened to have this long strip of waffle-weave cotton, and it folded up to fit perfectly, so I used it. At the worst, I'll have to hang it to dry sometimes, but the humidity is so low in the winter I think it'll work fine. Only after I was finished did I realize the gingham binding tape I found in my stash wasn't cut fully on the bias, so it just looks like I was drunk when I sewed it on. Grin

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23  Re: One Tiny Winter Thing 2016 swap - send outs Feb 14 in The Swap Gallery by Wulf on: February 19, 2016 05:49:37 PM
I received a wonderful little winter shrine from cmarion3 today!

It shows this beautiful round house in Finland.

She added a natural hot spring (complete with a wisp of wooly steam!) and Northern Lights in the sky, made of delicately coloured lace.

Even the outside of the tiny shrine is beautiful, with texture, glitter and dimensional snowflakes. This will be a great thing to look at in the Summer, imagining myself in the hot spring, looking up at the brilliant sky overhead.

Thanks so much for this! It's perfect and beautiful, and I love it!

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24  Re: Thing-A-Day February 2016 Craftalong in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 12, 2016 08:28:16 PM
Cutting all the numbers is really tedious because I'm using tiny dies and paper scraps.

Wow, you bet that's tedious! That's something like 1125 digits in total! Tongue You've got a lot of patience and dedication.

Today's thing is a tiny watercolour painting in my journal:

This morning was the first time this year I've been able to see the sunrise as I'm going to work, so it was worth commemorating.

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25  Re: Thing-A-Day February 2016 Craftalong in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 09, 2016 06:58:17 PM
Thanks for the buttonhole link! I've never tried using the gimp inside the stitching - I can see how it would keep things much tidier. I also think I'm using too thick a thread - I'll try something a tiny bit thinner and see if it works better for me.

I turned a replacement lid for a second honey pot today. (I think this pot was missing its lid when I got it!) I like this one much more.

I made this one of ash, and the grain matches the pattern on the pot quite well. I stained it lightly so it goes with the colour better. And I made a cardboard mock-up first to get the size right, so it even fits.

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26  Re: Typography Swap Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by Wulf on: February 09, 2016 06:33:03 PM
I received my package from EdelC. The Ireland-to-Canada mail wasn't quite as blisteringly fast as it's sometimes been, but it was still faster than my package to dfabbric in Alberta!

I had shown Edel an image of the sort of thing I hoped for, because I love her hand-printed fabrics, and she completely out-did the original:

I can't believe how many individual stamps Edel had to carve to make this fat quarter!

I love this colour combination! But the colours she used for this are even better:

You would expect that the other side of this zipper pouch would be made of the black print, and it is, but with a difference:

I can hardly wait to find something to put in it! (Besides the bar of white chocolate that Edel included!) Wink Thanks so much for this, Edel. It was obviously a lot of work, but I think it was so worth it.

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27  Re: Thing-A-Day February 2016 Craftalong in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 08, 2016 06:57:08 PM
Lots of great stuff! I especially like onesies and the sunshine-y coasters. Cheesy

I haven't been able to log a thing every day, partly because I'm way behind on the thing I'm making for the Dodo Swap, and that's taking up all my free time. But I have done a couple of things:

These are practice buttonholes. I've got a pair of spats nearly finished, but they still need buttonholes. I thought I ought to practice a bit before I tackled them, and I'm glad I did. This is the second set - the first ones were awful, and these could still be a lot better. I think I better do a few more before I risk ruining the real thing!

The lid of our honey pot got broken the other day, and it seemed easier to make a replacement lid than go looking for another suitable pot. I went in to work an hour early this morning and turned this on the wood lathe. It'll do for now, but I can't say I'm really happy with it. It's slightly too large to fit properly, and the maple I made it out of is a lot warmer in colour than the pottery it goes onto. I should have stained it slightly before sealing it. I did do it in a hurry, so I think we'll call this a trial piece and I'll use what I learned there to make another one. And I have another honey pot missing a lid, so I'm going to make a second one tomorrow morning. Maybe it'll turn out better on the first try! Wink

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28  Re: 50 Projects 2016---Busy Hands are Happy Hands! in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 02, 2016 06:48:26 PM
I wanted a moon rubber stamp to mark the last full moon in my journal, so I carved this one. The image is from an old wood-cut. I ended up not using it, so I'll save it for the next full moon.

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29  Re: 50 Projects 2016---Busy Hands are Happy Hands! in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 02, 2016 06:43:53 PM
I just realized that I updated my list but forgot to post a picture of the dotee I made for artsycandice in the last Dotee Swap.

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30  Re: Thing-A-Day February 2016 Craftalong in Craftalongs by Wulf on: February 02, 2016 06:14:30 PM

I made this ATC to try out a background technique from Bernie Berlin's book Artist Trading Card Workshop. She suggests sloppily pasting down random scraps and bits of paper, then sprinkling on various embossing powders while the glue is still wet. It gives a very rich, textured surface, which the photo doesn't really show well.

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