Saturday, June 28, 2014

Life is Amazing!

Before Hurricane Sandy, we were hit pretty hard here in the northeast by Hurricane Irene. That was in August of 2011, in case you forgot. That was the event that started me collecting wood salvaged from fallen trees by these two monster storms. The most memorable from Irene, for me at least, was a giant Gingko tree that came down  on the other side of town, just missing the owners house, but not the brand new Volvo that sat in his driveway. This tree was a monster. By the time I arrived, most was cut and taken away by professionals, but I did manage to fill my van with some large parts of the trunk and some of the lower branches. As it turns out, Gingko is a very nice wood for carving. I have made a lot of spoons from it and even kept a few to use and see how it fairs over time. It has many good qualities; lightweight, easy to carve, sturdy and apparently quite resistant to time and decay.

This week I have been moving and re-organizing the huge pile of logs in my driveway. The pile was a little larger in all dimensions than a full-sized Cadillac! So that meant the earliest pieces of Gingko I collected were in direct contact with the driveway and completely buried under wood I brought home after Hurricane Sandy, a year later. The piece of wood in this photo has literally be sitting on the wet driveway were I left it almost two years ago. When I uncovered it today, I was quite amazed. First of all, no signs of rot, spalting or insect infestation and... a brand new, green sprout growing out of it's side. How it that even possible. Like I said, life is amazing!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

From Humble Beginnings...

In 1965 I was in 5th grade, the Beatles and the 60s music revolution was the focus of my life. I spent hours filling my school notebooks with sketches of electric guitars. I was a Boy Scout in those days and I started my first experiments with wood carving making neckerchief slides out of whatever piece of soft wood I could get my hands on. My real hobby in those days was building and painting plastic models. Over the next few years, my obsession with the form of the electric guitar was still strong and my interests in model building and electric guitars and a new-found fascination with making things from wood began to merge.

A new hobby began to blossom as I started making model electric guitars. My dad had a tool shed where he kept his fishing gear and it had a small work bench and a few shelves, which he allowed me to clear off and use for some tools and little bottles of paint and small nails and thread. I have to say, looking back, I was forced to be creative, having almost no money for supplies. The wood for the guitars were just little pieces of pine I salvaged. The paints were left from my plastic model-building days, as were the small paint brushes. The frets were some thin copper wire I liberated from it's insulation. The tuning knobs were heads cut of small tacks. The pick guards were cut from plastic coffee can lids and the thread was courtesy my mom's sewing box, which I used for strings. Pickups were shaped from little pieces of balsa wood from old, broken gliders. I even bent little hat pins top make the whammy bars. Thus my entry into the world of woodworking which has come in and out of my entire life and i currently a focal point. Happy Throwback thursday everyone!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Father's Day Project

For the past several years, our Father's Day tradition has been for my son to take me to the driving range and we hit a few bucket of balls, then my daughter takes me to the movie of my choice. I have always enjoyed these activities, but this year I thought maybe we could try something a little different. I asked myself what I would want most for the occasion and I decided I just want to spend some quality time with my offspring. Everyone in my family has an artist bent, so I thought we could do a family collaboration. I knew it had to be something we could actually complete i a few hours and somehow each could participate. I thought of decoration a platter or shallow bowl with a wide rim as our "canvas". My decision to prepare in advance by turning the bowl prior to our gathering. We went around and around with conflicting suggestions as to how to decorate the bowl and settled on this dragon design taken from the Lora Irish book, "Great Book of Dragon Patterns". This suited both the time frame and the scope and size of the bowl. After sketching out the pattern free hand with the book as a resource, we transferred the pattern to the bowl with graphite paper. The outlines were then followed with a fine-tip wood burning tool. We used thinned acrylic paints for colors and finally a light sanding and a few coats of clear lacquer sprayed on for sheen and protection. Here's the result of our first Father's Day Collaboration.

An Introduction

Why this blog? I have been maintaining a web site, blog and a you tube channel all dedicated to my interest in wood carving. But I have been a woodworker and cabinetmaker for many more years before calling myself a wood carver. Most recently, I have added turning to my set of interests. The thing I have learned from these three, separate disciplines is that many of the concepts crossover and a skill or technique normally applied to one can help solve some challenges for the others.

I am a member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club and within that greater organization, one can be a member of the Wood Turners, The Wood Carvers or the Cabinetmakers. Many members are part of more than one, but I have found most are one or the other. I think of myself as more of a Jack-of-all trades, master of none. I just can't help dabbling in any aspect of working with wood. I am an avid learner and I also love to share and teach what I have learned. I find that shearing helps to reinforce and solidify information I gather about my crafts. So this blog will be bother a diary and a way for others of like interest to follow along as I learn, create and make mistakes in my journey to become better at what I do. I love to interact, so please read and share what you know about any given project or technique here in my Comments.

I have a lot of "old" projects that I have photographed over the past year or two. I'll start posting some picture with little comments. In the future I will try and document things a little better.

Welcome to my latest venture.