Sunday, September 6, 2009

Buggling bull elk in 3-D

When I was working on my first version of the bugling bull elk, I had to really fight to keep from trying to emboss him. I knew that sooner or later, I was going to have to do another and see how 3-D I could get him to look. It wasn't long before I cut another piece of leather and started on him again. This time, I wanted to use all the techniques I have learned from Jan Schoonover and from Robb Barr's videos, and from the last few years of practicing.

Starting out on this project was no different than on the flat picture. It's carved and then beveled as any normal project. One thing that I found interesting in both of these projects was how well the beveling showed up on the backside of the leather. This is something that is necessary when doing embossing because the dark lines from the beveling show you where the embossing putty (rubber cement mixed with leather dust) goes.

Here after the beveling and some of the backgrounding has been done, it gave a really interesting image on the back side of the leather. This is something that I might have to explore further to see if it could be done to create an entire project.

The next step is to do the actual embossing. For a leather project the term "emboss" can mean different things. When creating 3-D projects, "embossing" means to stretch the leather from the backside. This causes the image on the front to protrude out from the background. Carefully slicing into the leather in selected areas, or completely through the leather can give even more dimension. This has been done on both the mouth and the ear on the elk to allow these areas to stretch to different levels.

Here the embossing has been done, creating the muscle structure on the elks head. The mouth has been opened up, the ear and horn cut slightly loose.
The cavity created on the back side is filled with putty and when that has dried, it will hold it's shape, but is still soft enough to be able to mold.

The next step is to add the hair texture to the elk head. Attention has to be paid to the length and dirrection of the hair in it's many different areas. The longer, coarser hair under the neck is tooled in with a narrow pointed beveler that I got from Bob Beard (Pro Series Tools). This was the first tool I ever got from Bob and it's still one of my favorites. I use it quite a bit when I am working on hair textures. The other hair on the face is done with a multi blade knife and a scalpel.

A coat of leather sealer is applied to the hair, and while it's wet, it is lifted and shaped. When the sealer dries, the hair will retain its shape.

The next step is to color the elk. I have several elk pictures carved and they are all awaiting color. One of these days I'll get around to tackling that (hopefully!!)

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