'Five Wolves' (Finished) by Shane Wilson

LINK: Gallery Images

Here are the Five Wolves, mounted and ready for display.

'Five Wolves' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Five Wolves' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculptures)

'Wolf 1' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 1' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on oak base)

'Wolf 2' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 2' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on padouk base)

'Wolf 3' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 3' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)

'Wolf 4' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 4 by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)

'Wolf 5' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 5' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)


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'Five Wolves' (Bases) by Shane Wilson

Here are some of the images from the creation of the bases for the Five Wolves.

I chose three different woods, walnut, padouk and oak for their natural colour matches with the undertones of the individual moose antlers used in the carving of these sculptures.

Three of the bases will be wall mounted and two will be stand-alone.

Over the years, I have tried different methods for attaching the antler to the base, and have found the least destructive to the antler over the long term, to be rare earth magnets. The second least destructive method is to glue the antler to the base without screws using a polyurethane (Gorilla Glue) or white glue (Weldbond). Often I will use a combination of the two methods.


Wolf 2, padouk base, showing magnet

Wolf 2 (above) is mounted on a free form padouk base, using a 1.25" rare earth magnet, counter sunk into the base. When using magnets, the best adhesion is gained when the magnet is backed with a metal jacket (Lee Valley sells the complete set) and is set against a similarly sized washer attached to the mated piece. In this case, the washer is attached to the bottom of the antler with a short, wide threaded screw in a pre-drilled hole and secured with Gorilla Glue.

This same method was used for Wolf 5 (seen in next two images), and on Wolf 1 (below). Note with Wolf 1, I used three 5/8" magnet/washer sets.

Wolves 1 and 5 shown with washers glued in place.

Wolf 5, mahogany base, showing magnet.

When the antler is too thin to take a screw, the washer can be adhered with the Gorilla Glue and then clamped until set (See Wolf 3, below). When using Gorilla Glue, remember to apply it sparingly to the antler, then moisten the washer before bringing the two together.

Wolf 3, washer on back and base with rare earth magnet.

In the case of Wolf 4 (below), I felt the carving was too delicate to take the force needed to separate the rare earth magnet from the washer, and so opted to glue it directly to the base.

I used the Gorilla Glue along the back of the wolf in order to fill in some of the small gaps between the irregular surface of the antler and the custom support. On the second contact point, which was sanded flush along the lower edge of the shield-like element, I used Weldbond, then clamped the antler to the wood until dry.


Wolf 4, shown clamped and glued to mahogany base.

Going backwards in time, you can see the five bases and Wolf 2 (below) after the planing, cutting and routering were complete.

Wolf 2 shown with all five bases.

The shop after the bases were completed (below). Note the Delta planer (left) the DeWalt router and table (against the back left corner wall), the Steel City bandsaw, Mastercraft drill press and, in partial view, the General edge sander - reliable tools all!

Shane Wilson's wood shop and tools.


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 1 completely carved. Now onto the bases for all five wolves and then off to the photographer!

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 12 - left) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 8-11) by Shane Wilson

The phases in which Wolf 1 was brought to the cusp of completion went very smoothly.

Most of the tough decisions about placement of the various planes of the wolf's body in space were made in the initial phases and so these phases were more about detailing of fur and limbs.

I wanted to create a feeling of movement and variation in the fur, to give a sense of depth and allow the eye to travel freely between head and tail along the entire surface of the wolf.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 2 completely carved.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 12 - close) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 12 - left) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 8-11) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 2 represented a challenge of its own - the face is partially turned away from the viewer, resulting in a 3/4 view. This is always a challenge when carving high relief, since the natural inclination is to 'correct' the perspective and carve the face full on, as if it were sculpted in the round.

The secret to carving the 3/4 face is to rely on the reference image completely, to trust it as a pilot trusts her instruments when there is no visibility. What seems right to the pilot in low visibility is not - if the instruments are disregarded the pilot's 'corrections' will often put the plane into a spiral. Likewise, what seems right to the carver is not - if the reference image or drawing is disregarded, the sculpture will end up looking wrong.

The key is to observe the larger planes (pun not intended) on both sides of the face. They are shaped differently. Because the mind thinks they should be proportional, it tends to adjust. Don't do it. Try to keep the shapes intact. If in doubt, measure both the shapes and the distances (eg. eye to cheek) to get them right.

Also, remember that as you carve into the antler, the planes, shapes and edges will need to be checked and adjusted. Happy carving!

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 3 completely carved.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 12 - close) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 12 - left view) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 8-11) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 3 was challenging, to say the least. It is carved almost completely from the inner, softer and more porous antler. Detail and depth, the subtle shaping of bone, muscle and hair - all become exponentially more difficult and time consuming as there is little room for error.

When working from a reference photograph, such as this, it is necessary to determine where the animal 'lies' in 3D space. This becomes more difficult when the photograph is taken using a telephoto lens, since the effect is to compress the subject.

After studying dozens of other photographs of wolves in various states of repose, and reviewing wolf anatomy, I was able to locate the major landmarks (hip, knee, shoulder blade, vertebrae) in order to properly orient this wolf in the antler.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Wolf 4 completely carved.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 12 - close) by Shane Wilson



'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 12 - left) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 12 - right) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 8-11) by Shane Wilson

The various stages of laying in the hair patterns and sculpting the whole to create the illusion of three dimensionality. Note the soft inner section causes a banding across the wolf's back and a need for extreme caution during the carving process, since this material is extremely delicate.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

After working on Wolf 4 for a week (in progress images and notes to follow), I returned to Wolf 5 to finish up the details.

While doing so, I realized that photographing the sculpture from up close was distorting the illusion I am creating for this piece, since the relief was designed to provide the greatest verisimilitude when the work is viewed from a moderate distance, sitting on table or shelf.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson
This image was taken from a distance of about six feet (two meters) with a moderately zoomed telephoto lens under ambient florescent light (never the most flattering).


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 8-11) by Shane Wilson

Back to Wolf 5. The bulk of the carving is done now, save some detailing of fur on the legs and refining some of the transitions between fur zones or planes.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 11-close up) by Shane Wilson
I have included two images taken from the left and right side of the wolf (below), so that you can see the curve of the antler and the effect of the relief carving.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 11 - right view) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 11 - left view) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson
I'll continue by working through each of the remaining four wolves to a completion point, then effect the last minute adjustments and touches before creating the bases.


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 1 - Phase 2-7) by Shane Wilson

This is Wolf 1. The following images show the progress from the outlining stage (bottom), right up to the completion of the basic shaping of the major planes with some face detail (top).

This one was difficult for a couple of reasons. It took a little while to get my own head around the fact that the wolf's head is upside down, so gravity acts on the facial skin and muscles differently. Also, the wolf's head is also partially buried in the pillow of snow, pushing the plane within the antler upon which it is carved back into the middle soft, sponge-toffee like layer, where the creation of detail is much more difficult.

Time now to move onto the final detailing and mounting phase for each of the wolves.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 2-7) by Shane Wilson

This is Wolf 2. The following images show the progress from the outlining stage (bottom), right up to the completion of the basic shaping of the major planes with some face detail (top).

There is plenty still to do, but I'm going to put this wolf aside for now while I bring the last wolf up to the same level of completion.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 2 - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 2-7) by Shane Wilson

This is Wolf 3. The following images show the progress from the outlining stage (bottom), right up to the completion of the basic shaping of the major planes with some face detail (top).

There is plenty still to do, but I'm going to put this wolf aside for now while I bring the next wolf up to the same level of completion.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 3 - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 2-7) by Shane Wilson

This is Wolf 4. The following images show the progress from the outlining stage (bottom), right up to the completion of the basic shaping of the major planes with some face detail (top).

There is plenty still to do, but I'm going to put this wolf aside for now while I bring the next wolf up to the same level of completion.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 4 - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 2-7) by Shane Wilson

I have been working on Wolf 5 for the past couple of weeks. The following images show the progress from the outlining stage (bottom), right up to the completion of the basic shaping of the major planes with some face detail (top).

There is plenty still to do, but I'm going to put this wolf aside for now while I bring the next wolf up to the same level of completion.

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves' (Wolf 5 - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Using a scroll saw, I have cut the rough blanks for each of the five wolf sculptures from moose antler.

'Five Wolves' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - One' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Two' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Three' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Four' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Five' (cutting moose antler blank) by Shane Wilson


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'Five Wolves' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

I have been asked to create five smaller moose antler sculptures for the Arts On Atlantic Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This group will feature five wolves in various poses.

Thinking of Christmas ...

'Five Wolves - One' (choosing image and antler) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Two' (choosing image and antler) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Three' (choosing image and antler) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Four' (choosing image and antler) by Shane Wilson

'Five Wolves - Five' (choosing image and antler) by Shane Wilson



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