'Candle Ice' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

I have completed the scroll saw work, cutting the pieces from the inside of the antler and begun to rough out the triangles with the large straight bit. I think for further roughing I'll try the large, single fluted drum bit.

I have been debating about whether or not to make the piece a relief, or have the triangles appear front and back. I'm inclined to the sculptural effect of having the triangles appear solid, front and back. We'll see if this effect can be achieved within the varying thicknesses of the antler.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Celtic Confusion' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion, 1998 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The finishing work consisted of evening out the surfaces, refining the lines, reducing the tines, then sanding and polishing the entire piece.

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

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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 7 (carved moose antler)

The back of the left and right sections have been roughed out, as have the tines.

After a little more research into the micro-motor grinding tools, the NSK Electer has emerged as a superior choice. I look forward to using it to clean up the edges on the final run this coming phase.

Below, views from the front and both backs are displayed.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 6 (carved moose antler)

I have continued worked at refining the rough cuts made last time and am almost finished. This phase I have finished the the larger section of antler on the right hand side in the picture below and have concentrated my efforts on the base and the smaller left hand section. There is still some way to go on these two sections.

I continued to use a smaller straight bit on the SMC Micro-Motor Tool to define the edges and maximum depths, and a medium size, rounded cone bit on the Foredom to smooth and contour the surfaces. Part way through this phase, the SMC Micro-Motor Tool gave up the ghost. When I contacted the company for replacement or repair possibilities, I discovered that they no longer exist. The loss is especially painfull because I rely so heavily on this tool.

Checking into other micro-motor tool manufacturers, I have discovered that Foredom makes a very nice product, but it is quite expensive. The tool is necessary, however, so I will look into ordering one early next week.

In the meantime, I transfered the straight bit to the Dremel and have carried on, albeit at a reduced speed.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

I have worked at refining the rough cuts made last time and have almost finished the larger section of antler on the right hand side in the picture above.

I used a smaller straight bit on the SMC Moto Tool to define the edges and maximum depths, and a medium size, rounded cone bit on the Foredom to smooth and contour the surfaces. A small straight bit on the Dremel allowed me to begin a little clean-up work in the tight spaces between the ribbons.
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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

The lines of the carving have been roughed in with the 1/4" straight bit and the Foredom.

I have changed the angle of the photo to allow a better view of the left section of the antler and the cuts in the main section.
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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

I have cut out the parts of the carving that were meant to be removed with a scroll saw. A difficult task! Part of the challenge is balancing the antler and supporting its weight with one hand, while inserting the thin blade through the pilot hole and clamping it tight with the other. This normally wouldn't be as difficult with a smaller antler, but this antler is fairly large and so is both heavy and awkward.

The blades are thin and break easily. There are many kinds of scroll saw blades. I use both those which enable a tight turning radius and the mutidirectional blades (the most fragile of all).
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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

The design is finished.

I began by drawing in pencil the outlines of the "ribbons" in way which seemed pleasing and used the full surface area of the antler. At this point there were many overlapping lines and it looked a little confusing.

I then dealt with each section and made decisions about which ribbon would cross over, under or pass through the middle. I then erased the lines for the ribbons which crossed under or passed through. Slowly the pattern emerged and began to take on a 3-D look.

Finally, I shaded in all the areas that will be cut out and then considered the overall design for balance, proportion and interest.
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'Candle Ice' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

The design is finished.

I began by drawing in pencil the outlines of the triangles in way which seemed pleasing and used the full surface area of the antler. I made decisions as I went along concerning which part of each triangle would tuck under another and which part would emerge above.

Finally, I shaded in all the areas that will be cut out and then considered the overall design for balance, proportion and interest. I didn't want the design to be too symetrical (boring!) or too off balance (ugly!). I hope to have struck an interesting balance between the two extremes.

Now the cutting and carving begins.
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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1 (carved moose antler)

The antler has been skinned in preparation for adding the design.
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'Candle Ice' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1 (carved moose antler)

This phase's pic represents the moose antler half 'skinned' (the outer surface is smoothed by grinder) so that you can see the difference in texture and colour.
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'Candle Ice' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This antler is the mate of the antler used for "Celtic Confusion."

Much flatter, this antler will be carved in the upright postion with a pattern of intermeshed triangles. When the work is complete, the antler will retain its marvelous shape, but will be seen to be composed of many shards or triangles.

As with "Celtic Confusion", this antler was far too spectacular to merit its use as a background for another image. The antler itself becomes the art in this case. I hope to do the antler justice ... it should make a fine carving.
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'Celtic Confusion' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This carving will consist of a series of "ribbons", each beginning in the base of the antler and finding its way over a slightly convoluted path to a different tine. This is a very large antler, with striking tines, and I hope it will make a beautiful carving which accents those tines.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio, 1998 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

To complete the work, I used many different kinds of small bits for detail and finishing, with sanding drums, sandpaper, a polishing wheel and compound for the final touch. The stand was fashioned from the section I removed from the lower part of the antler, not visible in the pictures. It was shaped and set into the back of the work with screws and glue, 2-Ton Epoxy.

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

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Sometimes I find that carving is a little like building a house. The initial structure goes up quickly, it's the finicky interior details that take the time. Nevertheless, this is the part that is the most fun. Hours and hours roll by, as small shavings are removed from here and there.
Didn't Picasso once say that art is what you have left when you remove everything that is not necessary?

Every part of the carving has been worked, from deeper cuts in some places to refined cuts and undercuts in others. At this stage, I used both straight bits and the rounded cone bits of various sizes.

The tasks remaining include: refining the shape of the antler's outline - making the right side look a little bit more like a tree; sanding and polishing the whole; and then adding the support on the back to enable the carving to stand on its own.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

It is good to leave a project for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.

I find now that I like the stylized lines of the neck. However, I do see areas on it that can use a little touching up, it is still a little too thick. I will also undercut the eyes a little more, which should help them to stand out more clearly.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

The branch is gone and the moose has been further refined, especially the back of the moose, the face and antlers. The neck lines have been deepened and rounded but are still a little too stylized and will need to be de-emphasized. Other than that and some touch ups throughout, it is almost finished.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

This phase has seen some shaping on the neck, legs, and the beginning of work on the face and antlers.

I am not sure whether to keep the branch, crossing in front of the moose, as is, or to let it recede into the background as originally planned. I think it flattens the body in its current position and to create enough separation between branch and body would mean the removal of too much material from the moose. I have been playing with the computer image, erasing the branch as it crosses the body, and think that its removal tends to enhance and emphasize the moose, pushing it forward and lending it mass.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

This phase began by sketching out the divisions between the planes, esssential to the creation of a 3 dimensional effect, including decisions about foreground and background placement.

I decided to push the rear of the moose behind the border of the antler and allow a part of the flank to show on the outside and behind the border. The lower branch was allowed to cross in front of the moose in order to give the impression that the moose is calling from within the woods. By pushing the rear legs to the back layer of antler and distinguishing the neck from the body, the multilayered effect is enhanced.

Moving back to the scroll saw, the borders were thinned and shaped, increasing the negative space. Then work was begun on the body of the moose to round and position the back and legs.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1  (carved moose antler)

The moose antler has been completely skinned with the Foredom grinder and a rounded single fluted cone bit. This is without doubt my favourite bit for most tasks except detailing and outlining. The skinning process removes the rough exterior, exposing an ivory coloured underlayer with accents of purple.

I also cleaned and finshed the base, where the antler joins the head. It is a very pretty area that, used on its own, can be made into a handsome belt buckle, if you're into that sort of thing.

After removing the rough exterior, the design was finalized in pencil on the antler itself. This will be modified as I go along but not changed significantly.

Next, the negative spaces were removed with a 16" scroll saw. In order to provide an opportunity for the saw, without entering the antler from the outside, I drilled several holes along the edges of the negative spaces. The scoll saw blade is then inserted through the holes and the cutting can commence. Antler is hard on scroll saw blades and I broke several during this process. Whole antler has an internal tension which is released when cuts are made, binding and breaking the blades. If you try this at home, keep plenty of spares on hand!

I was surprised to discover that the softer inner section of this antler is a keen florescent green. Shades of green are relatively common on older antlers, but this particular shade I've seen only once before, on my first carving. It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on the final product!

I have just begun the process of finding the planes and deliniating them with a straight bit and the SMC Micro-Motor Tool. This will take a while, and is a somewhat like sketching in a little detail before blocking in the colours of a painting. The "blocking" will come next and involves the removal of large masses of material, in order to create a rough 3D effect.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This commission is to include a moose in the design. After perusing countless photos, the commissioners settled upon a moose image from Michio Hoshino's book, "Moose".

In my opinion, they couldn't have made a better choice. Michio was a great wildlife photographer, popular in Japan and North America, whose life was cut short after being attacked by a bear in Alaska.

I hope this work does credit to Michio's photograpy and spirit of adventure.

In designing this piece, the goal was to reflect the physical size and presence of the moose. I photocopied the image from the book in different sizes and then cut out the moose as silhouettes to try out on the antler.

It took a couple of days to determine the composition. I decided to extend the legs, rather than have the moose appear to be wading through tall shrubs, and then added a tree on the right side for balance. I also decided to use the largest silhouette possible and to reduce the sides of the carved antler in order to allow the moose antlers to project outside of the finished piece. Finally, I added three bare branches, in such a way as to assist the eye in its travels over the carving.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead, 1998 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The eagle is mounted on an angle suspended above and away from the mount, providing the illusion that the eagle is soaring past and not fixed in place.

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

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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

I have refined the feather structure and cleaned up the lines. Then I polished the entire surface and prepared the mounting plaque.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

The eagle is now finished the roughing out process. Over the next day or so, I'll refine the lines, then sand and polish.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have completed the roughing out of the left wing. To my delight, some of the colour on the left wing has survived the carving process so far and promises to add a little interest to the finished piece. Next, I'll begin at the head and move down the back to the tail.
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