Monday, December 21, 2009

A winter challenge project

A while back I received an email from Silva Fox saying she had a pattern for me to try on some cold, snowy winter days. She didn't include the pattern in the first email but said I could carve it and color it however I wanted, but couldn't change the size of the pattern. Ok, now my curiosity is up. The next day I get the pattern. It's an extremely reduced version of Charles Russell's "A Quiet Day in Utica" or what Charlie called "Tin Canning a Dog". I'm not sure what the original size of this painting was, but Silva's version is 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches!! You'd think that would be impossible to carve with any detail but she also enclosed a picture of her carving of this piece. It's amazing!

I started tracing and cutting this pattern a couple weeks ago, and since today is snowy and cold, I decided to start working on the carving. It's quite a challenge to work on something this small and I had to call in some favors. My friend Dave Peterson was kind enough to loan me some really tiny figure carving tools. These are tools that were made by Bob Beard for Robb Barr. So now I've got three of the most talented artists ever to carve leather involved in this project. How cool is that!!!

The first step to working on this was to trace the pattern and then transfer it onto leather. This was a challenge all on it's own since the pattern was so tiny. I traced it onto tracing film and then transfered it onto the leather using the tip of a mechanical pencil as the tip of my tracing stylus wasn't fine enough to get the detail into this pattern.

Then it was time to start cutting the pattern with the swivel knife. Every part of working on this project is made more difficult for me because of it's size and the fact that I can't see nearly as good as I used to be able to. I am using several light sources, my mini tech light from Ira Cooper, and my new favorite swivel knife from Paul at Leather Wrangler's. I tried to carve each line as carefully as possible and kept finding myself having to study the picture of Silva's finished picture to make sure I was doing things right.

Now it's time to break out the tiny bevelers that I borrowed from Dave. These really helped to get into these close places that needed to be beveled. I never would have imagined needing tools this small before but they sure came in handy here.

There were some places where even the smallest bevelers wouldn't fit, or do the job that I am trying to do so then I used another of my favorite tools. This one is Peter Main's famous modeling tool. This tool will be used a lot to clean up choppy beveling and also as a beveler in tight spots like the horse's mouth shown here.

Here's where I'm at tonight. I've included my pretty purple swivel knife in the picture to give you some idea of the size of this carving. More to come!!

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