It has been about nine years since I did regular carving. I had no project planned for this winter. I needed a business card holder, I had a pattern, and happen to have a piece of tupelo laying around. That is how this project started.
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Plans, Drawings, Sketches (inches)
The cowboy card holder is based on a pattern by Ralph C. Graves, camp Verde, Arizona. The pattern was published on page 63 of the July-August 2003 (Volumne 50, number 4) issue of Chip Chats from the National Wood Carvers Association.
Materials List (inches)
A piece of tupelo. Basswood would do equally well.
Power tools -- band saw.
Hand tools -- carving knives, palm handle gouges.
Trace the front and side onto a piece of tupelo. Rough out the blank using a bandsaw. I roughed out two in case the first carving did not work out. Started working on the face and hat, but noticed that cross grain cutting gave terrible results. Sharpened carving knives and gouges again; slightly better but still not the way I remember how it should have been.
The piece of tupelo has been in the house for some 9 years, and with outside temperatures of -25°C (-13°F) in the winter the relative humidity is very low at about 15%. Ended up putting the carving in a plastic ziploc bag with a wet cloth for several nights. Gradually the carving went better and the cuts became cleaner. However, one night I overdid it a bit and the next day a grayish mould had formed on the carving. Yet another lesson learned.
Some of the detailing was done with a woodburner, such as the belt buckle, seems on clothing and cracks in leather boots. The challenge was the grain direction which follows the back of the cowboy. The weak points being the hat, the lower arms and hands, the toes and the spurs. By doing the weakest parts last and leaving lots of material on them while carving the other parts, resulted that I was able to carve the entire piece out of one block of wood without any breakage.
For the block the cowboy sits on I glued two pieces of pine together and used a rotary metal brush to create deep grooves as if the wood is very old.
Before painting and after painting I sprayed the cowboy with a matt Americana Acrylic sealer/finisher (hobby shop). The paints I use are Liquitex Acrylic Polymer Emulsions which you need to thin with water (arts supply). By thinning them sufficiently you need to do at least 2 or 3 coats for proper cover, but the advantage is that there is no paint layer built up and therefore the carving details remain visible and crisp. I did only 2 coats so that some wood was vaguely shining through which gave the jeans and shirt that slightly washed effect. Used Humbrol hobby paint as well for the belt buckle and spurs (hobby shop).
Liquitex payne's gray & cerulean blue; 2 coats
Liquitex brilliant purple; 2 coats
Liquitex titanium white & raw siena; 2 coats
vest & tie
Liquitex ivory black; 2 coats
face, ears, hands
Liquitex titanium white & raw siena; 2 coats wash of payne's gray for beard
Liquitex payne's gray; 1 coat wood that shines through similates lighter streaks
Liquitex burnt umber; 2 coats
Liquitex titanium white; 1 coat
Liquitex permanent light blue; 1 coat
Liquitex raw siena; 1 coat
duo block where cowboy sits on
Liquitex paint left over from above. Applied in patches
in the direction of the wood grain. Use also a bit of
emerald green to represent moss. Finally apply a few washes
of payne's gray to give a uniform weathered effect.
Humbrol enamel gold
Humbrol enamel silver
A "wash" is paint thinned with an excess of water.
Warning -- some of the Liquitex colours are poisonous!