Tag Archives: wood carving

Bedelia the Mermaid and where she came from

Once upon a time, there was a very, very old wooden bed frame.

It was so old that parts of it broke, and so it was taken apart and about to be thrown in the trash, when someone thought… wait… we know someone who makes things come to life again….

They gave the broken old bed frame to my son, who offered a piece of it to me:

It was very heavy old wood, which soon revealed itself to be exceedingly HARD… and I mean H.A.R.D wood!

I cut out 2 little mermaids from the former bed frame, wiggling around to try to deal with long notches, deep channels and bored out holes that large screws had once lived in.

I sanded the varnish off one set of mermaid blanks, and then remembered to take a picture of the ‘under construction’ stage… some of those scraps of wood are not useable for carving because they have hardware embedded.

Oh my word!  Carving the old hardwood was incredibly challenging, and there were a couple of nights when I was carving until the wee small hours.

I was so happy to finish carving Bedelia, but the incredible hardness and knife dulling properties of the wood made it oh so NOT fun to carve.

So, I am conducting an experiment:

Bedelia’s sister had a long lovely soak, which I hope will make the wood more carving friendly.

And now, oh, poor little mermaid!

She’s in the freezer, waiting for me to have enough time to carve her!

My fingers are crossed that I haven’t destroyed the wood with the soaking and the freezing,

and that I will be able to release the latent mermaid from her cryogenic state soon and more easily than Bedelia!

The next stage of bringing Bedelia to life was to burn and paint her Mermaid scales:

And then assemble her, making all her joints function:

Bedelia wanted to have some Mermaidly fun, so she went for a swim:

Which was a lot of fun, but very tiring, so she came back and relaxed in the studio.

Tottie Tomato went and made Bedelia a lovely cup of tea.

But she was still cold from the wild waves, so I went rummaging through the box of threads that I inherited from my Mother.

And crocheted a lace shawl for Bedelia.

She’s very happy and is looking forward to meeting all the other dolls in the studio.

She is  hopeful that I will get to carving her poor icy sister, very soon!

I hope so, too… but the studio has been a busy place lately, the icy mermaid will have to fit in with the other magic that is being stirred up!

I am so pleased to now be part of a lovely blogging group: Scrap Happy,  that was begun 6 years ago by Kate Chiconi and her friend, Gun, in Sweden.

The Scrap Happy bloggers all post once a month on the 15th about the wonderful things that they are creating from scraps of this and that, and none of it new….

please check out their blog posts, too.   😀

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, NancyDawn 2, Noreen,
Bear and Carol

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An Inspiring Piece of Firewood

Inspiration pops up in the most unexpected places.

Last week, I was building a fire in our little wood burning stove.

A piece of kindling stopped me in my tracks…

It said: “Don’t burn me! There’s something special about me- wait till you see what’s inside me!”

so, I took it to the studio…. And, Tottie Tomato listened to what the piece of kindling

(from a tree that fell down in our neighborhood)

had to say.

A raggedy, curvy, bent, rough piece of upcycled wood that didn’t want to be burned,

told me a story about a Spoon Doll that was looking for a Best Friend to live upstairs….

So, I cut and carved and chisled and shaped…

Until she was ready to find her best friend.

I walked through the house, looking for the best friend who would live upstairs and have

adventures with ‘Dot’.

This oddly shaped Spoon Doll was telling me that the unusual basket ? or crown? ???

Was the ‘upstairs’ where her friend would live and that they were going to enjoy each other’s company.

Well…. friendship is one of life’s dearest treasures, so I listened when this little emerging Wooden Person

Asked a small mermaid, Siobhan, if she would like to move in ‘upstairs’.

Siobhan was delighted, and agreed to a little bit of carving adjustment so that she would fit her new accommodations:

Here’s Siobhan, all in pieces as she became smaller so she could move into her new shared home.

Dot provided comfort as Siobhan underwent her renovations.

After a lot of carving and sanding and painting and making of new joints,

the newly tiny Siobhan announced that since she is now smaller, that she wants a ‘Smaller Person Name’,

and that she is now to be known as ‘Sybbie’.

It was now time for Dot to receive her arms and to have a coat or two of shellac applied.

Dot objected, thinking that she didn’t like the sound of ‘shellac-ing’, so Tottie Tomato and Sybbie comforted her.

Tottie and Sybbie were getting in the way of progress, so I asked them to please move to the sofa to wait.

I gave them a journal to write in and a book to read, but I don’t think that they did either.

Spoon Doll Dot was very relieved to be completely finished, and needed a few moments to recover from

the whole carving and finishing thing.

Sybbie and Tottie Tomato told her that they had been through it all, too, so they were very sympathetic.

Brave little Sybbie even consented to being re-carved more than once to get to her final happy state!

Tottie Tomato had to go see to something else in the studio, so she left Dot and Sybbie to plan their

first great adventure.

Postcards from their first trip around the studio (their world as they know it so far)

will be posted in the next blog post.   (Here is the link: LINK)

 

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Some Simple Hacks That Make Carving Wood Safer

I don’t usually post twice in one day to my blog, but I just had a conversation with a friend on facebook that nudged me about something I wanted to talk about-

Being safe when carving wood.

Why?  Because I have caused myself considerable harm a couple of times when a moment of mindlessness let my knife slip, with almost fatal consequences.

I talk about it in this little video:

 

Here are some specific things that I use to keep my hands safe while I carve:

 

The square of wood with the enhanced corner is a carving support that my husband built for me.

See how the lip hangs over the edge of the desk?

It sits on anti-slip fabric to prevent it from skidding around.

Another square of the anti- slip fabric is on the carving support to keep the piece from skidding while I am carving it.

My lovely husband made it from various scraps of wood we had around.

Make it any size that works for you.

 

The piece of wood with bark on it is a great way of holding down a piece of carving with my left hand while I carve with my right hand.

The knife, chisel or file can easily slip and plunge into the hand that is holding the work in place and I would rather skid into a bit of wood than my hand.

(I’ve had more than my fair share of stitches over the years!)

 

Tottie Tomato is modelling rubber thumb and finger thingies that are usually used for filing papers, but they work great as finger and thumb tip protectors on my left hand.

Can you see how the nubbinses are almost all gone?  That’s from interacting with knives, chisels, sandpaper and files.

Better to nip the finger protector than my finger.

 

The 2 leather things are thumb protectors that I made from leather by trial and error to get the fit and shaping right.

I cut an oval of thick leather that I had in a drawer in the studio and punched holes around the top to gather it and also 2 holes in the tabs to tie them into a comfortable fit.

You can see that the lighter color one is almost done… it’s really notched up – and none of those cuts made it to my precious thumbs! Yay!

It started out looking identical to the darker colored one (same leather), but the hard use and lots of slices have taken the finish completely off it.

I sometimes wear the second one on my left hand, but not often.

I NEVER carve without wearing the protector on my right hand thumb.

You can see why, as it’s so beaten up by just a few hundred hours of carving.

 

Power Tools: 

ALWAYS wear a face shield when working with electric tools, and a dust mask and ear protectors and anything else that is going to keep you safe, smart and out of the emergency room!

This is only friendly advice from a person who has done damage to herself when NOT wearing safety equipment and I really don’t want you to hurt yourself.

BUT I also have to make the usual disclaimer… I don’t know your situation and I mean well, but I am NOT an authority on safety issues, just a concerned and loving person.

So, my friend, USE YOUR THINKY BRAIN AND DON’T DO DUMB STUFF, okay?

hugs ❤

 

 

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Respite from world events in carving spoons with love

This difficult week that our world has gone through made me want to carve out images of love, delight, sweetness and joy.

And, so I did.

My son upcycled trees that had died and had to be cut down, and made me blanks for my carving.

A Manitoba Maple from the yard of the parents of friends has re-incarnated as a mermaid.

I could feel the Mermaid in the piece of Maple, and so I carved this Mermaid spoon.

I wanted her to look like the ocean carved her, even when it was me who did.

My son rescued the wood from a dead chokecherry tree and made me spoon carving blanks.

The chokecherry wood became heart and hand spoons, 2 sweet little sisters and a woman who dreamt of dancing with the moon….

The chokecherry wood is almost translucent while it’s being carved and takes lots of coats of oil and several days of resting after it’s carved to start changing color.

Heart and hand images are dear to my heart and I find it very healing to carve them.

The first one is a spoon that is like a magic wand, asking to be waved in the air to stir up common sense and loving, calling out to appreciative hearts, full of compassion and gratitude.

The chokecherry tree died awhile ago, but it’s heart lives on.

It really wanted to be another Heart and Hand, and this one called to me to add color by including beads.

The pebbles in the palm of the hand and the bowl of the heart are not attached.

They just jumped in because they wanted to be in the pictures.

A whole lot more heart and hand carved spoons are waiting in a pile of upcycled wood from trees that have died, but are living on as carved spoons!

Two darling little sisters called out to me and asked me to carve them as spoon dolls.

The first is a sweet bunny who is excellent at giving bunny/upcycled chokecherry tree hugs.

I carve the arms on my spoon dolls from sections of wood that I cut away while I am cutting out the rough outline with the scroll saw.

It’s important to me that I carve their arms from the exact same piece of wood that they are made from, and of course, I have to make the arms moveable.

All the better to deliver hugs when the world is needing so much love….

I am enchanted by these little wooden beings who reveal themselves to me as I carve them.

I am guided by what they want.

No, I am not bonkers,

I don’t hear voices 😀

but I do feel that I am guided by the spirit of the tree in asking me to do what it wants and to let it be what it needs to be.

Birds obviously must have loved the chokecherry tree that now lives on in my carvings.

I am sure of this,  because as I was carving the wood from the dead chokecherry tree,

a little bird asserted it’s claim to sit upon the head of the kitty who is clearly the sister of the hugging bunny.

The kitty is quite happy to listen to all the little bird has to say about sunshine and  wind and rain and other stories the chokecherry tree still whispers of it’s days of bloom in spring, berries in summer and autumn and cold roots in winter.

Sometimes, a piece takes me totally by surprise.

I thought that this was going to be one thing and it turned out to be something totally different!

At first, after many many hours of carving the chokecherry wood, I thought that I had completely failed and that the spoon doll who was fighting me was destined to become firewood.

I tried to give up and go to bed, but no way, she wasn’t having any of that!

I could feel the wood trying to get me to see what was supposed to be happening, and I was drawn in, hour after hour, carving and carving and carving until finally at 3 am, I had an ‘aha’ and felt like I had gotten to where I was supposed to go with this spoon doll.

I jumped out of bed the next day, after not enough sleep, and immersed myself in this spoon doll, but this time, knowing what she was asking for.

She wanted me to see that she was a dreamer, dancing with the moon on her head.

Perhaps the chokecherry tree had loved feeling the touch of moonlight on it’s branches?

The spoon doll made it clear to me that she wanted NO embellishment, only to be allowed to shimmer in the light of the moon.

Okay.

I did, however, allow a little pearl to sneak into the photos. The Moon Dancing Dreamer was fine about it. Gracious, in fact.

I am utterly captivated by the joy (and challenges) of carving ‘raw’ upcycled wood that might have ended up at the land fill or simply being burned as firewood.

It’s alchemy to listen to the wood and let it lead me in transforming it in ways that surprise and delight me.

I look forward to continuing this adventure!

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