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Don't Baby the Wood!

Many students are surprised at amount of wood I remove from the block and the speed at which I do it. A student who was watching once exclaimed: 'He doesn't baby the wood!' 

This is certainly when I'm 'bosting in', sketching out the main forms and how they work together. And it's not just how I work in particular; it's how any professional carver, pitted against time, approaches their job.

I've noticed that a quantum leap has happened in a carver's journey when one day they are aware of removing wood in this strong and confident manner. It demonstrates at least a couple of things:

1. The carver is strongly visualising the form beneath the tool.

The clearer you 'see' the form that you are aiming for, the quicker you can find it.

That makes sense, right? And you are looking for it beneath that surface. Even as you carve away wood, you must be aware of what you are leaving. 

In fact, when I'm carving I would say that my sense of the carving tools is lost; I'm focussing on the wood as it changes beneath. I'm looking for the form even as I remove wood around it. 

Right at the beginning of a project; you are laying down the forms and masses on which everything else depends. It's not always easy to visualise. 

You'll get better at visualising with practice but here's the good news: there are ways you can help yourself.  

In next month's blog (January 2024) I'll reveal my 'Carvers Voodoo': a seemingly magical trick really helps my visualising; getting me into a project quickly and helping me at any time as I go along..


2. The carver has gained confidence handling their tools

You are in control, competent, and removing wood only where it needs to be removed.

I said above, '... when I'm carving ... my sense of the carving tools is lost,'  and I meant it.

When you drive your car, you just think 'driving', not turning the wheel here or there, or goosing the pedals. It's automatic, and this is the facility you want to develop with your carving tools.


In February 2024's blog  we'll look at that more closely at what you need to develop confidence

But what about this 'removing wood only where it needs to be removed'? 

Think about its: Wood never leaps off the block by itself! You do it, you remove wood. And you don't have a delete or backspace button... (Carving wood back on is quite an advanced skill!)

But through visualising and using the tools well, that shouldn't be an issue.

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