'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.

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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