This is a quick “how to” on folk carving. I am by no means a master or even good at carving but this is folk carving so I don’t have to be.
First up, I cut and split out a blank roughly the size of the figure, in this case a 2 1/2 inch sheep.
Cut a few relief cuts and split out the majority of the waste. Pare down the endgrain to finish the side view.
Carve the sheep to give it dimension and detail and drill the holes for the legs. I use one of the old hand cranked drills which gives a lot more control over depth and angle than a power drill or drill press would. Set the legs at a slight outward angle and dont worry about the depth of the legs. Just leave them long and cut them to down to equal size.
I split out blanks for the legs and carved them to size slightly tapered. Another way is to drill the same size hole in a scrap piece of metal preferably at least 1/4 inch thick. Then take the split pieces and drive them through the hole. This makes great strait grained dowels.
Next, attach the first leg and cut it to length. Each consecutive leg can be cut from the first so that all legs are equal length. Add some finish and its done.
This Winter will bring with it my wife and I’s first baby. This is an exciting time of preparation for us. I have been working on a set of folk toys for the coming youngster; the first of which is a set of farm animals.
I want the set to feel artistically genuine and have a timeless aesthetic. This set seeks to revisit a time when parents made their children’s toys and those toys mirrored the spirit and values of the parent.
The set can be made to order on my Etsy.
About a year ago, I made a replica of an ancient Egyptian comb. I loved the project and have made several since. After some study I believe the blanks were originally sawn out and not split out. I believe the tines were sawn as well and the whole surface was smoothed with stones. The accents on the top were likely sawn and paired down with chisels.
I split out my blanks rather than sawing to insure that the grain is straight with no run out. The originals were often knotty and rife with run out. This makes the tines much more brittle and impossible to split out the blanks. However, plenty were of strait grain and properly oriented.
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This is a simple project that can be done in an afternoon.
I start with a length of walnut the size of my palm and thumb extended around 6 inches.
Next I cut a piece of 1/2 inch brass about the width of my thumb and file it round on one end. This will be for the business end of the opener. I drill a hole for a screw and countersink the hole.
I cut two depth cuts. The first one about an inch in and the second one is measured from the first cut to allow the brass to hang over a bit.
I split out the waste and pear down to the final depth. This method only works if you have very strait stock. Center the hardware on the blank and mark the hole with an awl or screwdriver.
Fit the hardware and shape the handle as desired. I use a hatchet to hew the bottom concave and finish with a knife.
A few finishing touches and its done.
Working wood in the 21st century is all about the process. In an age where automation dominates the crafts and the excess and availability of goods is at its peak, woodworking and other hand crafts are largely reduced to hobby.
This isn’t all bad, however, since the masters of the crafts are long since forgotten we are free to pursue the passion with our own unique styles. This freedom comes with responsibility moving forward. A responsibility to grow the craft in directions that reflect our values while maintaining a healthy respect for our roots.
With the craft brought low, even the most unskilled and unlikely woodworker can make meaningful and lasting contributions. As tech increases, hand crafts fall to the wayside. This serves to make them more meaningful and precious than in ages past.
America is starving for culture. This can be seen in the popular painted and distressed look or pre-ripped jeans which strive to capture a timelessness and a certain “Wabi-sabi” (Japanese, beautiful flaw). This is a good time to be a craftsman in America. I see an open horizon and I am excited for the future. From fine to folk, woodworking is getting a second wind and I anticipate a continued resurgence of the arts and crafts movement.
I often feel the grip of modern living tightening and stifling me. I have tried hard to keep the amount of screen time at a minimum but all the same technology and the fast pace of life keeps seeping back in. We often say things like “there has to be more to life” and feel a longing in our souls for more.
What if we don’t need more in life. Perhaps the idea of needing more is actually the problem. Its as if our life is a cup and we fill it nearly to the brim with sand and stone. When the water pours in, it quickly overflows. Then we complain that there isn’t enough to drink and what little water we do get is fill of sand and gravel.
The dominating modern thought is at enmity with the Spirit. It teaches us that our greatest needs are physical even our feelings are nothing more than chemicals always lacking one way or another. Fulfillment is in satisfying the body and filling our cup with more sand and stone.
The Culture of the Spirit says that our greatest need is spiritual and that our fulfillment depends on connections with God and with each other. This connection is the water that fills all available space in the cup of our lives.
The clutter of the physical and blinders to the spiritual keep us starving and chasing the proverbial carrot on the stick. While all around us there is good food in abundance if we would only slow down and take off the blinders.