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5 Modelling the Head

'Modelling' here means clarifying the bosting adding subtler shaping to the bosting in. What in other workshops I've called a 'second pass'.

We shape the operculum and the 'hill' around the eye. As you do this, think of the sucker-like mouth of the koi ad the pinched effect just before and around the lips. (Do fish have 'lips'?) I changed the way of holding the koi to get at the underside of the head because the carvers screw method was getting in the way:

The 'patternmakers vice' sits on top of the bench and is a metal equivalent of the old carvers 'chops'. Sitting like this the work is lifted up to a good working height and, being narrow, you have good access to the carving.

If you don't have this sort of vice, no problem, but you can see how useful it was to be able to grip the tail end of the koi so you'll need to improvise a bit with your normal bench vice. 

You'll find them quite readily with an internet search for 'patternmakers vice' or 'vise' Here are a couple of sources:

Search for 'woodcarvers chops' if you'd like to look at the traditional wooden version.

Subscriber download: Koi Carp Working Drawing and Notes


| 23 May 2017 00:01

Hi Chris, I just wanted to mention that the Wheeler Engineering company in the US has discontinued that particular vise which is a shame because it was fairly cheap but I did see one on
I love this project even though it's over my head at this time but I just love it.


| 21 May 2017 12:48

Benjamin - Thanks for the suggestion. A reminder message like that is a good idea. I'll try to include it now and then.

Limewood as we have it in Europe isn't the same as Basswood from the US. Same species, and similar, but for carvers there are significant differences: Limewood seems tighter and more oily (and thus feeling harder); Basswood more open grain and drier (and thus softer).
Having said that, good Basswood is great for carving and well up to decent Limewood. The best Limewood? Well, you can see what Riemenschneider did with it during what they call the Northern Renaissance...

| 20 May 2017 17:05

Chris, I have the same (Pfeil) tools (just a few) and I just thought it might be of interest to those watching your videos if you mentioned (in the video) - "Hey, let me take a moment to strop these edges before we continue." Just a thought.
And one last question, I've heard many state, "This wood is lime... same as basswood." The wood you used for the carp seemed much harder than the basswood I'm used to. Is this more of a difference between one side of the pond vs another?

| 20 May 2017 16:42

Benjamin - There is no hard and fast rule; so much depends on the quality of the steel, the length of the bevel or how you use the tools for example.
Try and get a sense of what a really sharp tool should feel like and, then, as soon as you sense it's lost some of it's edge, strop.
Strop if you even think you need to...

| 20 May 2017 14:20

Chris - how often do you stop to strop your chisels? It is not shown/mentioned in your carvings.

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