'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

As always, it's fascinating to break new ground. For me, the feather structure of the eagle is new. Especially the upper structure of the feathers on outstreatched wings. In all the reference materials I have collected over the years, there is not one picture of an eagle taken from above! The drawing I generated for this carving was extrapollated from several side shots of eagles in flight with wings down.

In this phase, one wing has been roughed out using straight, or cylindrical, bits. I have attempted to show some irregularity in the feathers - much as a real eagle would look. Most of the painted or carved eagles that I have seen to date are all "perfect". I feel that spoils the naturally wild and powerful feel of the eagle.

The natural curve of the antler has allowed me to curve the tips of the feathers upwards as if the eagle's wings had just reached their zenith and were on their way back down.

Unfortunately, I lost most of the colour on the right wing. I guess some things are only skin deep!

The left side is sketched in and ready to be carved next.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1 (carved moose antler)

The eagle has been traced and cut out of the moose antler.

The eagle was sketched and photocopied, then the photocopy was cut to form the pattern. I smoothed the surface area of the moose antler to be cut with the Foredom grinder prior to tracing. The eagle was cut from the antler using a 16" band saw. (The quality of the blade makes a huge difference when using a band saw. The higher quality blades cut more easily and can take more twisting and turning.)

Note the wonderful colouration of the antler under the outer layer of bark!
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This is a commissioned a piece, which combines an eagle with an arrowhead. I have designed the piece so that the eagle is in full flight above the arrowhead. The eagle will be carved from moose antler and the arrowhead will be a shaped oak base.
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'Duality' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson (carved moose skull)

Well, it's finally finished!

The final stages involved sharpening up the lines and divisions between the shapes, for which I used carbide dental bits, provided by the local dentist. I then used a Dremel stone grinder to smooth the surfaces and remove the marks left by the various other bits. Finally, I polished the entire surface with a cloth Dremel polishing wheel. This was the first time I've tried the cloth wheel and found that, while it was effective, it covered me and a five foot radius with threads as it disintegrated. In three hours of use it was reduced to 1/8" radius from its original 3/4". Nevertheless, it seemed to be more effective than the felt polishing/buffing wheels and I'll buy another one for next time.

I also added small highlights of gold, purchased in Dawson City. There were small holes in the skull that seemed to detract from the overall effect, which the gold, held in place by ZAP-A-GAP CA Glue, eliminated.


Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson, on stand

The problem of how to mount and display the work took some time to resolve.

After planing the wood beams, taken from pallets, they were glued together and planed to a final thickness. I sketched out a profile on one side which immitated the skull, reproduced it on the other and cut it out using my band saw. I then sanded and routered the edges.

After some experimentation, I found that a single piece of wood, inserted through the large opening in the rear of the skull, could support the weight of the entire skull. The supporting member was designed to echo the negative space at the back of the upper jaw. The pedestal is designed in such a way that the skull does not need to be permanently attached. The skull fits over the end of the pedestal and its weight binds it fast.

LINKS: In Progress Slide Show
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)

All of the work these past weeks has been with the SMC Moto Tool and the Dremel. With the former tool I work out the lines and depths, then with the later I even out the planes. If you were to compare this carving process to drawing: the former tool creates the outline and the later shades the image.

There are tremendous contrasts in thickness which I have attempted to use to full advantage. On the top of the head, where the antlers attach, I have created an extruded relief in 3D. Over the thinest sections along the cheek bone, I have used shallow relief, completely removing some of the deeper sections, so that holes form part of the pattern. (Some of the holes occur naturally and I am still debating whether or not to leave them as they are or incorporate them into the design by giving them an angular shape.)

All that remains is some minor finishing work on this side, sand and polish the whole, and then mount the finished work.


Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose skull)

I've completed the left side of the skull.

The surface of the skull varies considerably for carving purposes, some areas are thick and luscious, whereas others are thin and delicate. The mid section of the nose is quite thin and may need to be carved away. I'll leave it as is for now and see how the rest turns out.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose skull)

I have completed the pattern on both sides of the skull. As evidenced from the picture the pattern will be different on each side. The two sides will be tied together by a common thread, evident on the bridge of the nose and the back of the skull. Usually, when laying out the design of a carving, it is necessary to sketch a small area and then lay in an initial carved line - because the pencil marks blur given all the handling. In order to lay in the full design this time, I sprayed the pencil lines with an acrylic spray. The spray protects the lines from handling, but allows the lines to be erased if I decide to change their position.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose skull)

I have learned a great deal about the architecture of the skull. It is wondrous indeed! Judicious in its use of resources, just enough material is used to accomplish the various purposes the skull serves. The skull is also extraordinarily beautiful. As mentioned last phase, the internal shapes and structures are both graceful and sufficient on their own as art.

For the last while, I have been engaged in subtraction. Some of the decisions about what to remove were obvious, others not. I concentrated on removing thin and rotten areas first, then turned my hand to removing material that would enable the underlying structures to show. Finally, I spent several days restoring, cleaning and stabilizing the teeth.

Throughout the grinding process, I used both the larger Foredom tool and the pencil thin Dremel. Given the many tight spaces within the skull, the Dremel was the most popular choice. I used double-fluted ball bits, all 1/4" shafts, as they seemed to bounce around the least while grinding in confined spaces. They are also the safest bit for grinding in sensitive areas, since they will not gouge accidentally.

The next stage will involve laying down the design and developing its depth throughout the piece.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose skull)

The skull is a perfect piece of art in its natural state so I will need to be careful what I design in order to complement its natural grace and beauty.

So far, I've used a large Foredom grinder with a round bit on a 1/4" shaft and a smaller cone bit with the SMC Moto Tool, for those hard to reach places. The focus has been to clean up the skull and simplify the shapes. I have removed much extraneous material. I'll probably spend another day or so refining the basic shape of the skull, before proceeding to lay out the detailed pattern of overlapping planes.

One thing I've discovered about the teeth, is that they are quite fragile and tend to flake quite easily. I will reinforce them with glue.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, begin (carved moose skull)

This commission makes use of a moose skull which was found in the bush a few years ago. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see lichens and mosses. This is a sure sign that the skull is very old, since things grow very slowly up in northern Canada.

The design of this piece will further an idea I've been working on for some time. I'm going to simplify the shapes of the skull and then carve a pattern of overlapping planes across the entire surface area. I hope to inlay gold flakes in some of the cracks, for a little extra sparkle.

The finished piece will be mounted on a wooden stand.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing, 1997 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The final work on "Rest and Sing" was done with Dremel sanding disks and polishing felts. It was a time consuming process with such tiny tools. I've purchased a larger polishing wheel and felt for next time.

I will begin work soon on the next commission, an absract design on a found moose skull.

LINKS:
In Progress Slide Show
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)

I have finshed the ravens to the pre-sanding, pre-polished state using the same tools as described for the wolves in the last phase.

Now to the task of making the support for the work and the final sanding and finishing...

The commissioner of the work has suggested the name, "Rest and Sing", which I think is quite appropriate.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

I have chosen to treat the surface of the wolves with a stylized design. My intention is to create the effect of a deep winter coat of hair.

Again, my tool of choice is the SMC Moto Tool with a 1/8" straight bit, because of its flexibility. However, I also use a flexible shaft Dremel, with a sanding drum of medium grade, in order to do the preliminary smoothing and unifying of the surface. For refinements to the outlines of the wolves, I use the Foredom with a 1/4" straight bit.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose antler)

The ravens and wolves are shaped and contoured to their finished size. The details will be added now with the smaller bits and a micro-motor tool made by SCM. It's a wonderful little tool that allows great flexibility of movement, so important for the finer details.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose antler)

I am starting to use finer burrs now for the refining work. This is the part that takes all the time, but it is the most fun as the animals "come alive."
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose antler)

Things are starting to take shape!

The figures are becoming more and more defined and are beginning to take on a three dimensional quality. Now for the time consuming detailed shaping and defining work.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)

The carving is coming along nicely. The basic planes and shapes are defined and the antler is "skinned". This is the process whereby the top, rough layer of antler is removed, revealing the open canvas and beautiful colour underneath. In this case, various shades of purple.

The next stage will involve rounding out the various shapes of the animals, trees and rocks.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose antler)

This phase represents 5 hours of actual carving and several times that in planning.

I substituted the flying raven with a second raven perched on another branch. It seems to make the composition flow a little better.

I have also added a third wolf, lying down and also howling. I had planned for this wolf to be in front of the left edge, which will become a tree trunk, but I think this will make the composition a little choppy and so will change this to a design where all three wolves will be situated behind the left edge.

Tools thus far have included a drill to make the pilot holes for my Delta 16" Scroll Saw to do the interior cutting and a large, straight, single fluted burr on a Foredom H Series power tool to do the preliminary rough shaping.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, begin (carved moose antler)

This commission will have wolves and ravens as its subject matter. It will be carved into a full antler, retaining the look of the antler in the finished work.

After several preliminary sketches, involving some field work, I have created a design and selected an antler which is suited. The design included a combination of howling wolves and roosting ravens.

The lower portion of the antler extends out from the palm at a right angle, perfect for the creation of a free standing carving. I'll need to add a small piece of antler at the back for stability.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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