'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

The final part of the design will be an owl, containing both curvy and angular elements, to be carved on the moose skull.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13a - by Shane Wilson

This owl element will primarily consist of the head and face, with abstracted elements radiating outward.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13c - by Shane Wilson

I will wait on the design of the radiating elements until the carving has progressed, in order to use these elements to tie the entire composition together.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 13b - by Shane Wilson

Okay, time now to let the design sit for a bit before making the first cuts, to allow the design to settle in my mind and, possibly, to add some further refinement ...



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The short eared owls on the left side are complete. Note that, as on the right side, the feather structure will be preserved in the carving, the curvy patterns will occur within the feathers themselves.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12a - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12c - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12d - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 12e - by Shane Wilson



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The owls and other creatures on the right side are complete. Note that the feather structure will be preserved in the carving, the angular patterns will occur within the feathers themselves.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11a - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11c - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11d - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 11e - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to transfer the background design to the antlers themselves. I have outlined where the owls will be located.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10a - by Shane Wilson

The right antler, containing the flying owls, will have a curvy background theme, while the owls themselves will contain angular elements.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10b - by Shane Wilson

In this close up shot of the lower portion of the right antler you can see the pattern of the grasses. The voles, garter snake, and owl skull and bones will be situated within and through the grass.

Though it is not evident in the pictures, this portion of the antler tilts down and away from the viewer, hence the choice of smaller elements (voles, snake, skull, bones) and the more abstract grass pattern, to allow the design to 'read' properly in context with the rest of the sculpture.

Had I chosen to include a larger design element here, another owl for example, it would have appeared flattened or pancaked when viewed in context with the rest of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10c - by Shane Wilson

The left antler, containing the roosting, perching and nesting owls will have an angular background theme, while the owls themselves will contain rounded, curvy elements.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 10d - by Shane Wilson

I'll turn next to each of the owls to create individualized designs within the living forms.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

This is the design in its basic, final form. Changes have been made to both antlers:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9a - by Shane Wilson

The oak trees on the left have been reduced in diameter, with some branches removed and some added. The effect will be to reflect or mirror the wing arrangements of the smaller flying owls on the right antler.

The standing owls have been reduced in size, slightly and moved away from the border to enhance the negative space throughout upper portion of the left antler.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9b - by Shane Wilson

On the right side, the lowest flying owl has been replaced again, this time by one of the original owls considered in Phase 6. This owl is more interesting and contributes to a more dynamic composition.

The primary flying owl has been separated from the upper owl, both to enhance the feeling of negative space around the owls and to remove the possibility for cracking between the owls as the antler shift and warps during the carving process.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 9c - by Shane Wilson

The garter snake images has been changed and may well be changed again when the embellishing detail is worked into the composition.

Which is my next step. The owls and other features will be printed, cut out and taped into place on the antlers. There will be some small adjustments during this process before they are drawn onto the antler permanently.

Then it will be time to play with the curvy, angular pattern throughout the entire composition.

Thanks to Keith, Miranda and Jerry for their eyes and ideas, which were a great help during the compositional design of 'Short Eared Parliament'.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Further refinements of the design:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 8 - by Shane Wilson

The short eared owl, looking down and away on the left, has been removed and the other standing owls have been enlarged.

The trunks of the large oak tree from the estuary have been added in place of a crudely drawn, place-saver tree, from earlier renditions.

The short eared owl head on the centre skull has been changed and is a little more dramatic.

A garter snake has been added to the 'prey' section on the lower right and the owl skull has been moved up to the entrance of the vole den, with the removal of the third vole.

The horizon lines on both sides have been altered off level, to cant in to the centre of the sculpture.

And finally, the bow on the inside of the right antler has been removed, so that both antlers exhibit a consistent line, up and away from the centre of the sculpture.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

At this stage in the design, I have changed the dynamics of the right antler.

When viewed in a mirror (or by flipping horizontally in Photoshop) it became apparent that the flow of the composition was dumping energy from the top right to the bottom left. By changing the flying short eared owls, this dynamic has been minimized. I may still remove the standing owl on the left side, which is looking off and down to the left.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 7 - by Shane Wilson

The composition will be contained by an antler border, similar to other of my figural sculptures (Yukon Seasons, Rest and Sing, Tribute to Michio) and have removed antler from the background to demonstrate this.

The skulls have been moved: the short eared owl skull will reside with the voles and the vole skull with the baby owl. In their place, I have added a short eared owl face, which will become the centre of a pattern of energy lines which will radiate throughout the sculpture.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

This image represents a Photoshop compilation well into the design process. I have decided to treat the overall composition in quadrants:

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 6 - by Shane Wilson

The upper left antler will feature standing and roosting short eared owls, including a baby owl. The figures need to reside close to the inner side of the left antler to maintain an illusion of three dimensionality, since the antler curves sharply towards the viewer as it moves out into the tines. Any large design element would read as flat if located too close to the tines.

The lower left antler, which sweep towards the viewer, will host a nest, replete with eggs, which the short eared owls create on the ground. This quadrant is completed with a protective parent owl.

The upper right antler will feature short eared owls in flight over the estuary in search of food. The upper right antler does not curve as dramatically toward the viewer as does the left antler, allowing more use of the palm for three dimensional relief imagery.

The lower antler projects down and away from the viewer, with only the leading edge and a bit of the back edge of the paddle visible. Design elements that are flattish, like voles, the short eared owls main prey, work quite well here. The underlying pattern in this area will be the grassy vortex that forms the voles' den. I'll probably add a leaf or two as well.

I have added two skulls to the moose skull, a short eared owl skull and a vole skull. I'm not sure I like them here, but they will be included in the sculpture somewhere.



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

This phase represents several hours of outlining and trimming multiple short eared owl images in Photoshop. Each owl, the moose antler, skull set and the grey background all rest on separate layers, enabling me to move each independently, expanding, flipping cutting and adjusting in order to create a pleasing composition.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 5 - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

This shot comes after printing out several short eared owls in varying sizes to try them out on the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 4a - by Shane Wilson
Not satisfied with the flexibility of this process at this stage, I have learned a little more about the structure of the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 4b - by Shane Wilson
I will move now to Photoshop and try combining several owl images in layers within the program.


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to play with some ideas for the composition of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3a - by Shane Wilson
There is a definite structural pattern within the antlers and their orientation in space to each other. As I described to the commissioner of this work, the pattern "radiates out from the top of the skull, following the inner edge of the antlers. The design elements need to work as if they were located on a large target or dart board that has been split in half, moved apart to different distances from the centre, with the outer edges curled in to the viewer in varying amounts."

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3b - by Shane Wilson
Time now to shift to the antlers themselves to try on some of these ideas. I'll print out these birds in varying sizes and try them out on the antlers.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 3c - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the antlers have been sanded to provide a smooth, clean surface to receive the design.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2a - by Shane Wilson
Due to the unique structure of this particular antler set, I have found that the best presentation of the carving surface comes when the antler and skull set is hung from above, allowing the lower palm portions to drop away from level, revealing more of their surface to the viewer.

Also, there is something slightly poetic about mounting a sculpture about owls in the air, as it were, suspended from the ceiling, floating above the ground.


'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2b - by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 2c - by Shane Wilson


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'Big Horns Ram, 2010' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved big horn sheep horn on granite base)

LINKS: Big Horns Ram - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Big Horns Ram, 2010' by Shane Wilson

'Big Horns Ram - Shatter, 2010' by Shane Wilson

'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
(big horn sheep horn carving granite base, big horn sheep horn granite base sculpture)


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'Big Horns Ram' (Photography) by Shane Wilson

A few shots from the photography session with Wildman Photography...

If you are an artist, it pays to always, always, always have your work photographed by a professional. Always!


Gary Wildman, Photographer and Dan, Photography Assistant
Gary Wildman with his assistant and computer guru, Dan.

Gary and Dan set up the shoot of 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
Gary and Dan set up the shot for 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson

Dan and Gary check the results from the shoot of 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
Dan and Gary check out the photos on the computer for exposure and detail


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 44) by Shane Wilson

The horns and bases are brought together for the first time. A few more coats of the satin lacquer are still needed.

There is quite a contrast between these pics and the initial shots of the horns, prior to carving!


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Granite Bases) by Shane Wilson

In order to choose the best colour for the granite base, I visited a granite kitchen countertop business here in Nanaimo, called PIGranite. They had hundreds of different slabs to choose from, so I brought the horns to the shop and tried them all on.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43a
The colour that works the best for this colour of horn is called Blue Pearl. The stone is mostly blue with black flecks, but, and this is difficult to see in these images, there is an interference colour which appears peachy, pearlescent and matches the horns perfectly, while the blue provides a nice contrast.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43b
As you can see, the magnets were bolted to the stone, which was custom cut, drilled and polished, and high density foam castors were added, to protect the surface upon which the sculptures are to be displayed, and to provide visual elevation from that surface.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43c
The bolt and washer assembly are secured with more Sumo Glue (which expands to fill the gap between the drilled hole and the bolt) and Super Glue to secure the nuts. The magnets sit on top of the granite surface to keep the effect clean and to elevate the horn away from the base.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 42) by Shane Wilson

The washers are glued, then the overage was removed, cleaned up with the use of a few passes with a 1/8" straight burr.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42a
In order to spray the horns with the lacquer, I attached two magnets to a scrap piece of 1"x6", then affixed the horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42b
Lacquer goes on thin, so several passes were necessary.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42c
I have tried a variety of finish glosses, but prefer satin applied over a gloss undercoat.

Lacquer finishes used in horn carving


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 41) by Shane Wilson

Time to begin the process of mounting the horns onto the granite bases. After considering a number of different mounting scenarios, I decided that the rare earth magnet assembly, sold by Lee Valley Tools, offered the most elegant solution.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 41a
There are two parts to the magnet assembly: the magnet and a thick steel washer. The magnet will be bolted through a pre-drilled hole in the granite and the washer will be attached to the bottom of the horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 41b
I try to avoid mounting solutions that involve drilling and screwing parts to the sculpture itself, since these so often fail over time and end up cracking the horn or antler. So I am using Sumo Glue by Locktite as the only means for attaching the washer. If the glue bond fails, then the washer can simply be reattached using a similar glue product, but the sculpture will remain unharmed.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 40) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have cleaned up some of the lines around the design elements and have further refined the big horn ram's head, adding detail to the horns and roughing out the area around the visible eye.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 40


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Using an Optoma PK301 micro projector, I projected an image of the moose antler and skull set to be used for this sculpture onto paper affixed to a drafting table, to trace the outline for design purposes.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - moose rack image projected

Optoma PK301 micro projector
(Optoma PK301 micro projector)

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - outline moose rack on drafting table
Note the additional tracing of the skull, to enable the creation and trial of separate designs which can be overlaid on the base drawing.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - outline moose rack
The outline is smaller than the actual antler and skull set, but sufficiently sized for design purposes.


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'Dall on the Rocks' (Begin 2) by Shane Wilson

Several views of the 40,000 year old piece of mammoth ivory tusk to be used in the creation of 'Dall on the Rocks'.

'Dall on the Rocks' by Shane Wilson, mammoth ivory with mineralization
Note the wonderful blue-grey mineralization evident on the surface of the ivory and the creamy-white colouration of the ivory itself. I will try to preserve some of the blue-grey colouration in the highlights of sky and rock.

'Dall on the Rocks' by Shane Wilson, mamomth ivory inside
This piece of ivory is quite stable, despite the evidence of cracking along the base.

'Dall on the Rocks' by Shane Wilson, mammoth ivory cross section
I'll add a little cyanoacrylate if necessary as the design is cut into the ivory.

'Dall on the Rocks' by Shane Wilson, mammoth ivory with walnut wood base
The base will be fashioned from this piece of walnut wood.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 39) by Shane Wilson

After publishing the update from the last phase to Facebook, I received feedback indicating that the shards might be a little distracting, with a suggestion that they be pushed off the horizontal to avoid the appearance that they are 'at rest'.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39a
I have tried to incorporate this suggestion, changing the shape of two of the shards while adding the detail from the shattered 'path'.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39b
The majority of the horn is now completely carved. All that remains is the final detailing on the big horn ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39c


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'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment 2

I visited the Nanaimo River Estuary Conservation Area again today to see if the Short Eared Owls had returned.

Since the Short Eared Owls live principally on mice, the choice of this area for a winter range makes eminent sense.<br />Since the Short Eared Owls live principally on mice, the choice of this area for a winter range makes eminent sense.<br />'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment-4a
They had not, but during the search, I ventured out into the large, field-like area that is the Conservation Area and was able to take more habitat reference shots.

'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment-4b
I noticed a great abundance of mouse housing. The den entry designs were quite striking and I've included a few examples with this update.

'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment-4c
Since the Short Eared Owls live principally on mice, the choice of this area for a winter range makes eminent sense.


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'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin 2) by Shane Wilson

In order to design this complicated moose antler and skull sculpture, I'll use this drafting table sized surface, upon which I'll sketch, project, paste and insert a variety of images over the outline of the moose antler and skull set. The next task is to create the outline, which I will do by tracing a projected image onto the paper.

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin 2) by Shane Wilson
I am using three different pieces of paper, one for each antler and the skull, so that the three portions of the sculpture can be redesigned as necessary without necessitating the redrafting of the whole. When it comes time to transfer the design to the antler and bone, it will be much easier to work with the smaller sheets of paper.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 38) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the negative space along the back of the horn has been carved away.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 38a
In the image below, you can see the negative spaces created in both horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 38b
Note: The sculptures are meant to be viewed from a front-on position, so that these negative spaces create the illusion of the shapes of the big horn sheep as they rear into their ramming of their respective paths, while at the same time showing the continuity of the paths themselves into the sheep.


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'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment 1

I visited the Nanaimo River Estuary Conservation Area, the known habitat of the Short Eared Owl on Vancouver Island, to take the following reference photos for use in planning the design of the sculpture.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic #1

The owls return to the area in late October or early November when I'll get some shots of the birds in situ.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic - RIGHT

In the meantime, I'll begin the planning of the sculpture with reference shots of the Short Eared Owl found in books and on the internet.

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic - LEFT
More Text and Images ...

'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 37) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough out the inner portion of the family/cultural history path's curved lines.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37c


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Begin 1) by Shane Wilson

This is a fresh commission for a carved moose antler and skull sculpture with a theme to be based around the Short Eared Owl. Since a grouping of owls is called a 'parliament', I have named this sculpture, 'Short Eared Parliament'.

(There is also a more pedestrian meaning for parliament, which describes the group of sage individuals our nation throws together to conduct our collective business here in Canada and in other countries structured during the British Empire.)

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1a) by Shane Wilson
I am fortunate to live near a known habitat for the Short Eared Owl on Vancouver Island. They overwinter on the Nanaimo River Estuary, arriving in late October or early November. I'll visit the Estuary Ecological Reserve Area next to take reference photographs for the background and detail of the sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1b) by Shane Wilson
These are very large antlers to carve with an enormous surface area. I am estimating that the design of carving of this antler skull set will take at least two years.

'Short Eared Parliament', (Begin1c) by Shane Wilson
This moose antler skull set came to me from Yukoner John Maissan.

John Maissan with moose antler skull set to become 'Short Eared Parliament'
John Maissan with the moose antler rack and skull which will become 'Short Eared Parliament'

He hunted this animal for subsistence in 2007 and kindly packed the skull and antlers out of the bush for me. This was no mean feat as the rack measures 5 feet across and weighed over 100 lbs!


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'Dall on the Rocks' (Begin) by Shane Wilson

This is a new commission for a dall ram on a rocky ledge to be carved from a piece of mammoth ivory tusk.

Dall on the Rocks, by Shane Wilson - Beg
The carving will be based loosely on the above published photo. The photos below, taken at the Yukon Wildlife Refuge, will be used as additional reference images.






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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 36) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the borders of the family/cultural history path have been roughed out.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36a
Next I'll design the inner portion of the path with curved lines, curved against the curve of the horn itself to provide contrast and interest within the sculpture.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 35) by Shane Wilson

Finished, almost.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35a
The carving is complete, including the signature on the reverse.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35b
I have included a close up shot and one from the extreme right side (below), so that you can see how the effect was achieved in relief.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35c
Remaining to be done: mounting on a pearl blue granite base and finishing with an acrylic spray. But first it is time to return to the partner horn and finish it to the same point.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 34) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the negative space under the ram has been carved away, leaving the ram's rearing, abstract, silhouette.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 34a
The face and horns are marked for the final detail carving.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 34b
The horn is marked in a slightly stylized fashion to reflect the path detail.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 33) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to cut out a section of the back of the horn to give more of a stylized profile of the ram as it descends from its upright reared position into its collision with the path.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 33a
The shape of the negative space will mirror the curve of the horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 33b
The tedious work of finishing the fine detail, strand by strand of horn fibre, is also in progress in this phase with the upper half of the horn completed.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 32) by Shane Wilson

The full path is roughed in, now to clean up the design and put the final touches on the melted portions. I'll save the final detailing of the ram's head for last.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 32a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 32b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 31) by Shane Wilson

The first four are done, now for the two larger ones ...

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 31a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 31b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 30) by Shane Wilson

Continuing to work the path ...

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 30a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 30b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 29) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to add the raised border detail to the 'history' path.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 29
This will involve lowering the background plane on the rest of the horn.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 28) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have further shaped and refined the ram's head. The pathway of the past has been roughed in and more of the horn in behind the design elements of the melting path has been removed.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28a
The inside of the horn has been cleaned up, with the top layer removed. In order to reach into the horn to address some of the carving beyond normal burr and hand piece range, I used a carbide, rounded over straight burr on an extended 1/4" shaft.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28b
The extension adds an additional 4" of reach, but extra care is needed when using this burr with powerful high speed grinders like the Flexible Shaft Foredom. Any play in the shaft is exaggerated at 4" and the precision of the grinding is reduced considerably. For rough work, though, the extension works well.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28c
Another consideration, especially with horn, is the tendency of the burr to get caught on the grain of the horn and cut wildly. To avoid this, a careful, brushing stroke works best. Avoid applying pressure to the burr.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 27) by Shane Wilson

The head has been further roughed out to create a 3-D impression. It remains to add the finer details.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 27a
The background has been refined around the head and the band roughed in to gauge the effectiveness of this element in the design.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 27b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 26) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to pass the strip pattern by the portion of the design on the horns immediately behind the rear horn of both rams.
Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 26
This will help fill the gap in the pattern on the 'melted' horn caused by the removal of one of the tabs of horn to allow for carving the head in greater relief.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 25) by Shane Wilson

The background has been reduced along the entire horn, lessening the impact of the background and allowing for more emphasis to be worked into the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25a
The overall effect is somewhat confusing visually, so I'll need to give the background design more thought before proceeding.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25c
I'll focus on the ram's head first. Doing so may help a complementary background design to come more properly into focus.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 24) by Shane Wilson

There is a difficult decision to be made at this point in this carving. The detail of the melting background immediately behind the rear horn of the ram's head will need to be eliminated in order to allow a higher relief to be achieved in the rams head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 24
The entire subsurface arcing behind the head will also need to be reduced considerably.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 23) by Shane Wilson

I am now ready for the fine details on the ram's head, which have been sketched out in red coloured pencil. The idea will be to exaggerate the indented areas a little bit to create enough shadow to make the detail sing at a moderate distance.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 23
Sheep horn is a difficult medium in which to create fine detail, since the pattern of the horn itself tends to dominate the composition.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 22) by Shane Wilson

As it is important to keep working both horns at the same time, I have switched back to the 'melted' side and have begun to rough in the planes on the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 22a
You can see the relief nature of the carving in this second photo.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 22b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 21) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have worked to refine the ram's head, adding some detail and restoring the balance and proportion using the initial reference image.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 21a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 21b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 20) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have completed roughing in the broken area behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 19) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the broken area behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19c

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19d
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 18) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have worked exclusively on the left horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18a
The rearmost planes on the ram's head and body have been recessed and the horns have been established in their final positions.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18b
The jagged background roughing in has begun above the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 17) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I thought it was time to bring both horns together to begin to even out the design over both sculptures.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17a
I have also removed the photocopied template from the horn on the right side and identified the major planes on the ram's face.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17b
The recessed horn on the right has also been roughed in, while the major planes are again penciled in on the left horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 16) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to shape the torn/melted elements to give them some life in 3D.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 15) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the background horn material has been reduced to create the effect of popping up the torn/melted elements.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 15a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 15b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the back of the horn behind the ram's was carved away to create the negative space around the head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14a
Following this a small 1/8" rounded over straight burr was used to create a depth outline around the melted elements.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14b
This will enable me to remove horn around the elements to a uniform depth, creating the illusion that the horn is melting and flying apart as the ram charges through.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14c
Large 1/4 " ball and cylinder burrs were used to remove the bulk of the horn behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14d
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to refine the outlines of the 'melted' horn and to begin clearing the horn material around the big horn sheep's head, using the same tools from the last phase with the addition of the straight, single-fluted 1/8" burr.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 13a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 13b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The outlines of the second horn have been roughed out and plenty of horn removed using the band saw and both a 1/4" shafted ball burr on the Foredom and a rounded over 1/8" straight burr on the NSK micromotor grinder.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 12a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 12b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The image is slowly beginning to appear. It will be necessary to remove more background material on the rear side of the ram's head, to allow the back horn to recess further, enhancing the 3D effect.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 11
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

An intermediate step. This is the beginning of the 'messy phase' when the design element is being roughed out and the artist despairs of creating something that will resemble the real thing.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 10a
It is important to stop and look during the carving process, marking the next steps carefully - in this case with a red pencil crayon.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 10b
Avoid marking the carving with permanent ink or graphite, which tend to become trapped in the fibres of the horn or antler and discolour the sculpture.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to include the candy cane element on some of the shards, indicative of their place in the path prior to the ram breaking through.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 9a
It is time to begin roughing in the ram's head. The object is to create the head in high relief to give the impression that it is breaking through on a 3/4 angle. This will not be easy as sheep heads are a marvel of weird angles and impossible curves.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 9b
As a first step, I have used a pointy burr to pierce the paper template to give some idea of the placement of the primary structures. It is very easy to lose one's way at this point, so for the next few days I'll take it slowly to allow the 3D image to build and rebuild in my mind.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough in the cracking design around the sheep head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8a
From the images below you get a further sense of the stock removal 'behind the scenes' to allow light through around the head, giving the impression that the ram is breaking though.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to add back in the cracking portion of the design and an additional element, a candycane, expanding stripe, that will be incised into the horn to give the path a sense of dimension and placement in space.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 7
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have cleaned up the design elements and have begun to establish the planes relative to one another.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 6a
I have also begun to work out how the negative space around the ram's head will look relative to the path it is breaking through.

The lines marking the cracks in the path have disappeared due to the removal of horn material, but they will be reapplied and carved into the horn in a future phase.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 6b
This shot shows the stock removal from the back of the horn.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the design on the big horn sheep horn with the angled pattern.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 5
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

When cutting out sections of the horn along the thinner base, I have found that it is better to carve the grove with a rounded over straight burr, rather than try to cut the section with a saw.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 4
This prevents the horn from binding on the blade, which horn is prone to do.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The bandsaw was used to remove larger stock along the edges of the design.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 3a
The sheep horn catches the saw when it encounters the border between the solid outer portion and the inner pulpy section. This can be a little dangerous, so it is important to hold the horn securely.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 3b
It is possible to see how solid the horn is along the cut sections.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

As so often happens, things change.

I started off with the concept of the two rams charging each other and had in mind a kind of Mobius curve, wherein each horn was carved along a path from tip to base and back up the other side, curving over on itself at the end of which the ram's head, to be realized abstractly, would be carved at the moment when the ram drops into the collision at the end of the charge.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2a
But the more I worked the idea the more I liked the concept of the ram breaking through its own path.

The idea is synonymous with a personal journey toward maturity.

We are all the product of a history, a past, the end product (for the moment) of generations upon generations of those who have gone before. We are the product of family, culture, religion, race, on and on.

Part of becoming an adult is coming to terms with our heritage as we make our own way, not completely breaking with the past but nearly so.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2b
These two sculptures form a set, each telling the same tale of individuation and maturity, but from the perspective of two very different personalities.

The one is cool the other hot.

The left horn shows the ram shattering its way through its path, like breaking glass or fracturing ice. The right horn shows the ram melting through its path, molten tears evident in its wake.

Angles and Curves.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2c
Appropriately, this sculpture set has been commissioned by a proud father for his two sons, each different - both making their way in the world.

I am going to have to change the name of the sculpture set, but need to give the matter more thought.

(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

In the first phase, the outer material of the big horn sheep horn is removed.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-1
This includes the damaged or broomed portions at the end of both horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-2
Note the creamy to black coloration of the horn, with some translucence beginning to appear.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-3
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Begin) by Shane Wilson

This commission will be carved into a pair of mountain found horns from a big horn sheep who died of natural causes.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-1
The commissioner asked to have a sheep head and abstract pattern carved into each horn, which will be given as gifts to his two sons.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-2
For the purposes of the In Progress narrative, the horn on the left will be known as Left Horn, and the horn on the right will be known as Right Horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-3
The name of the piece is a play on words between the medium and the subject matter. The horns will be carved to give the appearance, when the two horns are placed together, of two big horned sheep ramming. These are also very big thick horns, from a mature, adult, male, big horn sheep.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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