'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share