'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 7 - Right Antler) by Shane Wilson

The right antler has been partially refined, the curves are more accurately aligned and material from behind the intersections has been removed to assist with the illusion of the over/under weave pattern.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 7a) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 7b) by Shane Wilson
Close up of the middle portion of the antler, with the pattern partially refined.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 7c) by Shane Wilson
Close up of the lower portion of the antler, with the pattern partially refined.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 7d) by Shane Wilson
Close up of marks from the lower portion of the antler.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 7e) by Shane Wilson
Cuts and refinements are marked in red pencil crayon.


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 6 - Left Antler) by Shane Wilson

The left antler has been partially refined, the curves are more accurately aligned and material from behind the intersections has been removed to assist with the illusion of the over/under weave pattern.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 6a) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 6b) by Shane Wilson
Close up of the lower portion of the antler, with the modified pattern roughed out.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 6c) by Shane Wilson
Close up of marks from the lower portion of the antler, with thoughts for refining the pattern in this area.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 6d) by Shane Wilson
Close up of marks from the centre of the antler.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 6e) by Shane Wilson
Cuts and refinements are marked in red pencil crayon.


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

This is the preliminary design idea for ‘Ahead of the Curves.’ As with all of my other abstract sculptures, the actual design will be worked out and finalized on the antler surface.


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

The surface of the moose antlers is sanded lightly to remove the dirt and bumps, to better facilitate the transfer of the design.


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The design has been translated onto the two antlers using coloured pencils.

As the design is transferred, many changes and adjustments are made before I’m satisfied that the design works or ‘sings’. Negative spaces are coloured to highlight the carved elements.

A few more adjustments to the design may yet be made, both before and during the carving process.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 4 - Left Antler) by Shane Wilson

The left antler is completely roughed out from start to finish.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4a) by Shane Wilson
Roughing on left antler of the pair comprising ‘Ahead of the Curves’ by Shane Wilson is complete.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4b) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4c) by Shane Wilson
Roughing of the left antler continues.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4d) by Shane Wilson
Works begins with a combination of 1/4” burrs on Foredom flexible shaft grinders and 1/8” burrs on the NSK Electer micro motor tool.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4 - negative spaces) by Shane Wilson
Negative spaces are removed with a sabre saw. Some of the lower negative spaces could not be accessed with the saw and will be removed with rotary grinding tools.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Left - Phase 4 - pilot holes) by Shane Wilson
Outside edge material is removed with a band saw and then pilot holes are drilled with a drill press into the planned negative spaces, to allow insertion of a sabre saw blade.


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'A Head of the Curves' (Phase 5 - Right Antler) by Shane Wilson

The right antler is completely roughed out from start to finish.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5a) by Shane Wilson
Roughing on right antler of the pair comprising ‘Ahead of the Curves’ by Shane Wilson is complete.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5b) by Shane Wilson
A close up view of the roughing in progress on the lower right antler.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5c) by Shane Wilson
Roughing of the right antler continues (note the fully roughed out left antler in the background).

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5d) by Shane Wilson
Works begins with a combination of 1/4” burrs on Foredom flexible shaft grinders and 1/8” burrs on the NSK Electer micro motor tool.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5 - negative spaces) by Shane Wilson
Negative spaces are removed with a sabre saw. Some of the lower negative spaces could not be accessed with the saw and will be removed with rotary grinding tools.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Right - Phase 5 - pilot holes) by Shane Wilson
Outside edge material is removed with a band saw and then pilot holes are drilled with a drill press into the planned negative spaces, to allow insertion of a sabre saw blade.


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'Candle Ice Two' (Finished) by Shane Wilson

LINK: Gallery Images

The sculpture was photographed on a grey background, supported by the acrylic posts attached through the paper into the mock-up base. Once the sculpture is shipped to Toronto, it will be installed on the custom manufactured plinth using the same acrylic posts.


'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Candle Ice Two' (left antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Candle Ice Two' (right antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Candle Ice Two' (Back View) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Candle Ice Two' (back view) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)


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'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

The design is complete. It combines an assortment of elongated curved shapes, representing the heat of the sun, with thin rectangular shapes, representing candle ice which has shattered and fallen away from the main sheet of ice, represented by the solid portion around the base of the antler. This portion is also pierced by the heat of the sun, showing the curved heat pattern as a negative space.

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

The shape of the tines will be preserved as stretched drops of rain, kryptonite to candle ice.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

The offset arced elements tie the two antlers together compositionally and also represent the phalanx-like characteristic of candle ice in its immediate pre-shattered state.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Dimensions of the combined antler sculpture - 116 cm wide x 72 cm high x 51 cm deep.



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'Candle Ice Two' (Begin) by Shane Wilson

I have been commissioned by James Robertson Art Consultants to create an abstract sculpture from two moose antlers for the lobby of the brand new Four Seasons Hotel and ResidencesToronto. (For a look at an artist's conception of the hotel and a lobby floor plan, click here.)

What a spectacular honour to be a part of this stellar Canadian art collection curated by the James Robertson group for the hotel's design team of
Yabu Pushelberg.

The concept for the commission is abstract in nature, with
'Candle Ice' as a reference, to be realized on two moose antlers, positioned together and flush-mounted on a bronze plinth.

A variety of moose antlers were presented as options, of which the following pair were chosen for the sculpture.


'Candle Ice Two' (begin) by Shane Wilson


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'Integration' (Begin 1) by Shane Wilson

This enormous moose rack and partial skull was discovered high atop a rock-strewn mountain in southern Yukon.


It is 1.5 meters (5 ft) wide and each paddle is 91 cm (3 ft) high.


It will form the basis for the first of three major abstract works which I plan to create over the next decade or so.


The partial bone skull will be completed with a matching bronze partial skull, which will be integrated into a tapering floor mounted base.


'Integration' will be an integrated duality themed work, where the curved and angled elements will come together throughout the design.


The antlers have been moved into the office, so that I can live with them in order to work out design possibilities over the next year.


Next, I'll post the images and account of the recovery of this amazing set of antlers by Peter Harms, a Yukon teacher and outdoor enthusiast. It was quite the adventure!

[The second major abstract work planned will be carved from a complete, 3 meter (10 ft) long wooly mammoth tusk (~2018) and the third will be carved from a locked set of two large Yukon moose racks (~2021).]


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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The final sculpture in the Skullpture Series, Gaia, has been installed in its permanent home in the custom made display cases in the St Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon.

The unveiling will take place on Saturday, November 21, 2009, during a community celebration of Haines Junction's 25th year of incorporation as a municipality.


'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case - 3/4 view) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (In Case - side view) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia, 2009' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

LINKS: Gaia - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Gaia, 2009' by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 left) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 right) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (left antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (right antler) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 left skull) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)

'Gaia, 2009' (3/4 right skull) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler sculpture)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' - Photography Session with Gary Wildman

Following the completion of any sculpture, it is important to have it photographed professionally.

Gary Wildman photographed 'Rest and Sing' a number of years ago and I called upon him again to photograph both 'Gaia' and 'Self Portrait.'


Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Self Portrait'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, photographs 'Self Portrait'

Gary took the utmost care, spending hours getting the lighting and exposures just right, to perfectly capture the sculptures as digital images - not an easy thing to do!

He is a true professional and a joy to work with! Visit his website at
www.wildmanphotography.com .
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' - Photography Session with Gary Wildman

Following the completion of any sculpture, it is important to have it photographed professionally.

Gary Wildman photographed 'Rest and Sing' a number of years ago and I called upon him again to photograph both 'Gaia' and 'Self Portrait.'


Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Gaia'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, lines up a photograph of 'Gaia'

Gary took the utmost care, spending hours getting the lighting and exposures just right, to perfectly capture the sculptures as digital images - not an easy thing to do!

Gary Wildman, Photographs 'Gaia'
Gary Wildman, Photographer, photographs 'Gaia'

He is a true professional and a joy to work with! Visit his website at www.wildmanphotography.com .
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The sculpture is complete, with the addition of the signature and title. Since the sculpture can be separated into three distinct sections, I decided to sign the sculpture in three places: on each of the carved moose antlers and on the back of the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, bronze skull) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, left antler) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - signature, right antler) by Shane Wilson
Now to travel to Vancouver to have this carved moose antler and bronze skull sculpture called 'Gaia' photographed, then on to Whitehorse and then Haines Junction in the Yukon, where 'Gaia' will find its permanent home.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 24) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

To finish the bronze sculpture is sprayed with two coats of lacquer and protected with two coats of Trewax, lightly buffed between coats.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 24) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 23) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The next patina to be applied is the 'Moroccan Blue', on the base and the lower portion of the moose skull. The principle component of this patina is cupric nitrate and it is applied on the hot, but not too hot, bronze surface.

In this case, I applied the patina with a large round bristle brush and both painted and flicked the patina onto the surface.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 23) by Shane Wilson
The image above shows the cupric applied to the heated bronze.

With cupric nitrate it is important to watch the heat closely so as not to scorch the patina, which would result in a rainbow coloured effect.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 23) by Shane Wilson
The second image shows the same patina after it has been quenched with water.

The metal is then reheated to remove moisture from the bronze, prior to the application of the final patina, a combination of cupric nitrate, ferric nitrate, chromium oxide and yellow ferric oxide, called 'Italian Green.'

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 22) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The final phase of the patination process involves the application of the nitrates and oxides. The first application is of silver nitrate, dabbed on to the hot metal with a round bristle brush. The heat draws the silver nitrate from the brush, creating the ring-like patterns.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 22) by Shane Wilson
The metal is quenched with water to set the silver patina onto the bronze moose skull, then the area is rubbed back with steel wool.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 21) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Next the surface of the bronze sculpture is rubbed with #1 steel wool and the rougher recesses are scrubbed with a natural bristle brush, exposing a deep steel gray.


(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 20) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The bronze is then heated slowly and evenly until hot and the colour begins to change. For a sculpture this size, a propane fired 'Tiger Torch' is advisable, on a lowered setting.



(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 19) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

When the Birchwood Casey has been allowed to sit on the bronze surface for 30 seconds, it is rinsed off with cold water.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 19) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 18) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The first step in the patination process is to determine the colour and texture of the desired look. A great book, which provides examples of patinas and their recipes, is Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick Kipper.


I have chosen three different patinas for the bronze moose skull and base: 'Moroccan Blue' for the base and the lower portion of the moose skull; 'Italian Marble' for the forehead portion of the moose skull; and, 'Silver' for the mid portion of the moose skull, the raised leaf shape on the forehead and the elongated triangle which joins the base to the skull .

The first step to create these patinas is to spray the entire surface with a solution of Birchwood Casey (gun blueing) diluted 50% with distilled water. This is applied with a spray bottle onto the cold bronze surface.

You can see that the colour goes from a light copper to blue-black almost immediately.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait, 2009' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

LINKS: Self Portrait - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The final phase of the patination process involves the application of the nitrates and oxides, in this case: cupric nitrate, ferric nitrate, chromium oxide and yellow ferric oxide.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
These are applied while the bronze is heated with a propane torch.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
To fix the colour the surface is quenched with water, then reheated to remove the water.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 11 (carved bronze skull)
To finish the bronze sculpture is sprayed with two coats of lacquer and protected with two coats of Trewax, lightly buffed between coats.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Next the surface of the bronze sculpture is rubbed with #1 steel wool and the rougher recesses are scrubbed with a natural bristle brush, exposing a deep steel gray.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 10 (carved bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 10 (carved bronze skull)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The next step is to rinse the bronze sculpture after about 30 seconds then heat the bronze surface slowly and evenly until hot and the colour begins to change.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 9 (carved bronze skull)
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

The first step in the patination process is to determine the colour and texture of the desired look. A great book, which provides examples of patinas and their recipes, is Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick Kipper.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 8 (carved bronze skull)
The patina I have chosen for the wolf skull is called 'Italian Marble'. The effect is a dark jade to emerald green over a black base coat. My intention is to reflect the colour of the jade base while retaining a dark undertone to pick up the dark tips of the musk oxen horns.

The first step to create this patina is to spray the surface with a solution of Birchwood Casey (gun blueing) diluted 50% with distilled water. This is applied with a spray bottle onto the cold bronze surface.

You can see that the colour goes from a light copper to blue-black almost immediately.

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 17) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

For this next phase, 'sandblasting', I searched Nanaimo for a business with a glass bead blaster. Red-D-Arc Welderentals has such a case and Wade Stannard, the proprietor, agreed to allow me its use.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, prepares to glass bead blast. Photo by Bryan Peake

Glass beads take the place of sand in this process and create a finer finish.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, glass bead blasting. Photo by Bryan Peake

Due to the higher cost of the beads, the blasting is done in an enclosed container, so that the beads drop to the bottom of the case and are recycled.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 17) by Shane Wilson
Back at the studio after sandblasting. Note the chemicals in the background, ready to be mixed and applied in the next phase.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

For this next phase, 'sandblasting', I searched Nanaimo for a business with a glass bead blaster. Red-D-Arc Welderentals has such a case and Wade Stannard, the proprietor, agreed to allow me its use.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
Shane Wilson, Sculptor, glass bead blasting 'Self Portrait'. Photo by Bryan Peake

Glass beads take the place of sand in this process and create a finer finish.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

Due to the higher cost of the beads, the blasting is done in an enclosed container, so that the beads drop to the bottom of the case and are recycled.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

Once the bronze has been cleaned in this way, it is imperative that it not be touched by hand, since the transfer of oils will affect the uptake of the patina by the bronze.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 7 (carved bronze skull)
Photo by Bryan Peake

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Two of the tines have been reduced on each antler. Turns out it was necessary to reduce about 6 inches total width.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
The device below, consisting of a combination wooden template and marker grid on the floor, helped to establish the actual dimensions of the case and determine cut lines on the tines.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
I'll be bringing one of my NSK micromotor grinders to make final adjustments should they be necessary, once the sculpture is mounted in the permanent display case.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Whole - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Both moose antlers are now fitted to the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
The case that has been prepared for this sculpture, prior to the creation of the piece, measures 43 1/8" across. Now that I know exactly how wide the sculpture really is, I have discovered that I will need to trim about 3" from the width.

Skullpture Series, Moose (whole moose - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
This will mean reducing the length of the outermost tines on both sides.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 16) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The initial trial fitting has proven successful between the left moose antler and bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 16) by Shane Wilson
The combination of the male/female fit and the rare earth magnet hold the antler and skull together!

This is no mean feat, since the downward force of the antler, out and away from the moose skull, is considerable.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 16) by Shane Wilson
I was very apprehensive about this stage, wondering if indeed the system would work.

I'll spend a few more hours refining the leveling and fit on both sides, before moving on to the next stage, sandblasting and applying the patina!

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Given both the outer dimensions of the male portion and the depth it will penetrate the antler, it is possible to calculate and carve out the negative space in the moose antler butt.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
It is necessary to add the thickness of the magnet and washer to the height of the carved bronze square, and add the thickness of the special steel magnet washer (sold with the magnet and calculated to provide the maximum attractive surface).

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
The depth of the cut is established by drilling pilot holes to the appropriate depth.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 15) by Shane Wilson
The magnet washer is then attached to the antler with a flat head, stainless steel wood screw. When I am satisfied with the fit, the washer will be epoxied into each antler butt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The bronze skull has been drilled to mount the 1" rare earth magnet (Lee Valley Tools).

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
I have used a brass washer under the magnet to separate the stainless steel from the bronze to prevent the two metals from reacting with each other.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
The rare earth magnet is fastened to the skull with a brass machine screw, washers and bolt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the square male portion has been rough carved onto the skull, calculating the dimensions by eye.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
It will need to be leveled and trued to form a close fit with the moose antler butt.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I have decided to use a square shape, cut into the bronze moose skull, to act as the male portion of the fit between antler and skull.


It is important to check whether the size and shape of the male fitting can be cut into the antler butt without jeopardizing the structural integrity of the antler.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Heavy, heavy work! The chasing process on the moose skull is now nearly complete.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
During the grinding portion of the chasing process, the flexible shaft on the Foredom H Series snapped under the strain. Fortunately I have two S Series models as back up!

I used 1/4" carbide, double fluted burrs to grind and smooth the surface, then sanded the entire sculpture with an angle grinder and flap wheel disk.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
The next step involves fitting the bronze skull to the moose antlers and then installing the rare earth magnets.

Once this is finished, the whole will be sanded again, then sandblasted and the patina applied. I'm still not sure what colour that will be ...

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The chasing process is complete. The bronze appears in its natural colour.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
I used a variety of carbide, double fluted burrs and diamond burrs to remove irregularities in the surface and finish the 'carving' process.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The surface was sanded with various flap wheels mounted on the 1/2 HP Foredom Flexible Shaft Grinder.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The next step is to prepare the surface to receive the patina. This will involve sandblasting the bronze to remove oils and impurities that are residual from the casting and chasing processes.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
Because the natural colouration of the bronze is similar to the musk oxen horn, with which it will be displayed, my plan is to apply a basic blue-black patina and then scrub it back to reveal the natural bronze highlights.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase  (carved bronze skull)
The blue-black colour will create magnificent shadows and bring out the three dimensionality of the sculpture.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The moose skull portion has returned from the foundry and is ready to be chased and patinated.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
Notice the nubs where the sprues have been removed. These will be ground down and disappear entirely during the chasing process.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The discolouration due to the welding process, where the moose skull was affixed to the base, will also be removed during the chasing process.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze moose skull - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The join between the base post and the skull will appear to be seamless in the finished work.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The right moose antler is nearing completion. The design elements are now fully carved.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
What remains is a once over to clean and sand the antler, smooth out the edges on the back of the antler that intersect with the design and then polish the whole.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
The butt of the antler will be fitted to the skull and equipped with rare earth magnets to form a non-permanent, but solid, connection with the skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
I am considering the idea of naming the sculpture "Gaia", after the theory of a living earth propounded by James Lovelock.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The carving seems to be designing itself as I go along. As the other half has become a flowing tapestry of life, particularly marine life, this half has adopted a linear, modern, industrial/technical feel.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
Lately, I have been wondering about my longstanding preoccupation with the theme of duality, as reflected in the curves and angles of my sculpture.

The theme of duality represents polar opposite aspects of the human condition: left-right, rational-spiritual, capitalism-socialism, synthetic-natural, fundamentalism-freedom, complexity-simplicity, wealth-poverty, light-dark, us-them, open-closed, off-on, and so on.

It is hard to name an issue, problem, or topic where there isn't controversy or polarization.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
But why do these aspects of duality, represented by curved and angled shapes, seem to want to appear together in my sculpture, creating a new, integrated form?

Perhaps the integration of opposites in my sculpture suggests an approach to resolving the dilemmas we face in our time: a holding together of opposite points of view or approaches within one solution.

One of the great problems we face today is human generated climate heating, predicted to adversely affect everyone and everything on Earth.

The integrative approach suggests the solution to climate heating will be found in both nature and technology, working together.

The climate crisis offers humanity the potential for a new beginning: a symbiotic relationship with all other living organisms and the planet itself.

That's a lot of freight for a few angles and curves in bone and bronze!

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Full Musk Oxen Horn - Final Phase) by Shane Wilson

The final phase of work on the musk ox horns is complete.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The detailed carving on the right horn is finished and the horn sanded to about 320 grit with flap wheels mounted on the Foredom H Series grinder. It was also necessary to clean the horn with a damp cloth to remove residue from the stand making process.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
Compressed air was used to remove carving debris and dust from the recesses of the carved horn and bone, then a few coats of lacquer were applied (from a spray can).

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The lacquer seals and protects the surface of the carving and enables the wonderful translucent properties of the musk ox horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, carved musk oxen horn - final
The last portion of this sculpture to be completed will be the bronze wolf skull, which needs to be chased and patinated.
(musk ox horn carving, musk ox horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the design elements were carved to establish their position, relative to each other and to the background. Most shapes have been refined. A few of the shapes have been removed to allow for the surrounding shapes to 'breathe'. This serves to enhance the feeling of depth in the work. It is sometimes difficult to determine the optimum shape density in the design phase, so edits occur during the carving phases, when it possible to see the 3-D effect more clearly.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn) Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

In this phase, I have finished refining the left horn. There may seem to be little change from Phase 4, but the difference between the phases represents about 40 carving hours, primarily concentrated on the fine detail work, including the cleaning up of angles, lines and the smoothing of surfaces.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

In this phase, I have continued to refine the shapes in relation to each other and to work the base level around the horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 4 (carved musk oxen horn)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

The wax has been cast in bronze by 'In Bronze' based in Langley, B.C. The final grinding (chasing) and finishing (patina) have yet to be done. I'll complete the carving of the horns before going further on the skull, in order to ensure that the skull's design remains consistent with the overall design.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 5 (carved bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 5 (carved bronze skull)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to deepen the background on the right horn to match the depth on the left horn. This will enable the pattern to stand out in high relief, once it is carved.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 3 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 3 (carved musk oxen horn)

LINKS: Work in Progress Video
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The left moose antler is nearing completion. The design elements are now fully carved.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
What remains is a once over to clean and sand the antler, smooth out the edges on the back of the antler that intersect with the design and then polish the whole.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 14) by Shane Wilson
Once the bronze moose skull returns from the foundry, the butt of the antler will be fitted to the skull and equipped with rare earth magnets to form a non-permanent, but solid, connection with the skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the carving of shape and detail has been extended into the midsection of the left moose antler (seen upside down).

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
Several decisions were made concerning design elements to be kept, changed or lost during the carving process. Can you spot them?

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
In order to work the surface to create a smooth appearance, the 1/8" rounded over cone, high speed steel burr, from Dremel was used.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 13) by Shane Wilson
To create sharp edges and borders, I used the 1/8" expanded cylinder high speed steel burr, also from Dremel.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson
I have worked the lower portion of the left moose antler, refining the design and bringing the carving near to its final stage.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson
The design attempts to make use of the massive thickness of antler in this section for shape and contour, while making it seem, at the same time, as light as air.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 12) by Shane Wilson

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the lower portion of the left moose antler has been carved, further roughing out the design while feeling my way along to the proper placement of the various shapes relative to each other.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
Since this area will project towards the viewer, it is important to consider how the design will look not only from above but also from the front.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 11) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have gone over the whole surface of the antler to refine the shapes and smooth the surfaces.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The principle tool used was the NSK EMax with 1/8" cone and rounded over straight burrs.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
For the refinements to the outline of the sculpture along the moose antler tines, I used the larger 1/4" straight burr on the S Series Foredom.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
I had to be careful while using the Foredom, to keep the flexible shaft in as open a curve as possible to avoid stress on the inner wire. There were occasions where I need to bend the shaft in an acute manner for brief periods, so it was necessary to monitor the sheathing for overheating.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have returned to the right antler to finish roughing out the lower moose antler palm and the central section which joins the antler palms.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The diamonds and spheres or 'bubbles' have been positioned in and around the borders in the central section. Due to the thickness of the moose antler at this point, the effort required to rough in these shapes has been considerable.

Note that three of the tines have been trimmed for consistency of design. They will be shaped later so as not to be noticeable as cut.

The angular theme is carried out onto the bottom moose antler palm, with some curvy accents.


Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The Foredom S Series with a variety of 1/4" burrs with the addition of the NSK Electer and 1/8" and 3/32" burrs were used to rough out and do the preliminary cleaning in this phase.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the wax moose skull was taken to In Bronze Foundry in Langley, B.C. Canada to be cast in bronze.

Francois Deschenes, In Bronze Foundry and Shane Wilson, Sculptor, discuss moose skull bronze
Francois Deschenes, In Bronze, Langley, B.C. Canada and Shane Wilson, Sculptor

Once the two parts are cast (moose skull and base), Francois will weld them together and level the base so that it sits flat.

Francois Deschenes, In Bronze Foundry tallies Shane Wilson's moose skull bronze
Francois Deschenes from In Bronze, calculates the cost to cast "Skullpture Moose"

According to Francois' calculations, the bronze elements will weigh a little over 36kgs or 80lbs when complete.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

To create the base, I borrowed a large stainless steel bowl from the kitchen (yes, it will likely need to be replaced) and brushed several layers of wax in the shape intended for the base. I brushed wax over a larger area than I planned to use, and cut it back once the wax was removed from the bowl mold.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The next step was to fashion and attach an upright bar with triangular profile, which will be welded to the back of the bronze moose skull nose, meshing seamlessly from the front with the triangular element in the nose.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
The entire surface of the base was flamed with the torch to even the surface and thin the wax to casting tolerances. Again, the wax is a little thicker, to accommodate the weight of the sculpture and form a stable anchor.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Once cast in bronze, the base will be ground to lie flat. I am considering possible design elements to be carved into the base, but may leave it as is with a simple patina, so as not to distract attention from the bronze moose skull and antler sculpture above.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Three views of the wax moose skull prior to the journey to the foundry to be cast in bronze.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
The remainder of the design has been carved into the wax: pointed ovals on the left side and extended diamonds on the right side, to correspond to the elements in the respective carved moose antlers.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
It is important to note that the work of creating the sculpture in bronze does not end with the wax. Once the skull is cast in bronze it will be possible to further refine the design and add carved embellishments.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In addition to the design considerations, wax has been melted away from the underside of the moose skull with a torch. The optimum thickness for the wax is 3/8". I have left the wax thicker across the skull and along the nose, to create additional support in the bronze for the weight of the antlers.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

After several days working a variety of designs on paper, I have settled for something relatively simple that focuses on three design elements from the carved moose antlers: circles or bubbles, extended diamonds and pointed oval shapes.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The central panel of the bronze moose skull will host the circle/bubble element primarily, with one extended diamond element within the nose and extending into the base, and one pointed oval shape in the centre of the forehead.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The principle tool used to shape the wax is a Weller WLC200 Adjustable Power Soldering Station with a Chisel tip.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the wax moose skull halves have been joined and the antler stubs have been capped. This is to accommodate the rare earth magnets which will form part of the attachment mechanism between antler and skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Since the moose antlers I am using for this sculpture were shed by a moose a few years older than the one used for the mold, I have added wax to the upper portion of the skull.

As moose age, the size of the skull remains the same but the thickness of the upper skull and antler stubs increase to accommodate larger antlers, which grow in size and thickness as the moose matures.

This appears visually as a flattening out or smoothing of the upper moose skull.


Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
It is now time to complete the design for the moose skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Once the top and bottom of the moose skull are trimmed to fit together, I begin the process of trimming the portions of the skull that are not needed in the final sculpture. Due to the weight and cost of bronze, it is essential to use just the right amount of wax in the portion of the skull that will be cast.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
In this pic, I am working primarily on the lower portion of the moose skull. Most of the lower portion of the moose skull will not be visible in the final sculpture, so it is possible to trim most of it. This will also enhance the design of carving on the moose skull, since there won't be an inner, lower surface to distract from the design on the upper portion of the moose skull.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

The wax halves of the moose skull are trimmed with a heat knife, shown below, and then placed together to determine fit.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
The wax duplicates of each half of the moose skull are then removed from the molds. Note the wax flange that will need to be trimmed away.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Bronze Skull - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I have begun work on the bronze moose skull.

Skullpture Series, Moose (bronze skull - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
A year ago I completed a moose skull mold, taken from the moose skull used in the pics of the Beginning Phase of this sculpture.

Due to the large size of the mold the wax is laid in layer upon layer into the top and bottom sections of the mold until it reaches the desired thickness, about 1/4".

(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
The changes to the angular portion of the left moose antler marked on the antler in Phase 9 have been carved out using the Foredom grinders and burrs mentioned in previous phases.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 10) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have worked to mark refinements in the design of the carved angular portions of the left moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
Complexity of design is an important part of my sculpture. But when the design creates visual confusion, as I believe it did here, it needs to be reworked. The eye should be able to travel freely over the sculpture without becoming 'trapped' or 'mired' in visual 'dead ends' or 'swampy' design.

My goal is complexity without confusion.


Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The angular elements on the left antler had not been completely thought through during the initial design phase and were creating visual confusion.

Since most of the roughing out portion is now complete it is possible to see how the design functions in the actual antler.

After careful study, I have been able to correct the angular portions by creating strips which travel straight until they bend at an angle. They are not all continuous, but serve to frame the rest of the design within the antler as well as providing structural support for the carving.


Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 9) by Shane Wilson
The lower portion of the left moose antler has been marked for further carving adjustments.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In this phase, I have cleaned up the carving on the upper portions of the moose antler using the same tools as the last phase, the Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
The detailed elements evident in the initial design will be added back into the carving when the antler is fully roughed out.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the carving on the right moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
This is the stage where critical choices are made along each border in the design about which planes come forward and which planes recede.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
The choices regarding plane placement are a little more straightforward on the right antler. One thing I will need to watch is the depth of the planes relative to the depth available in the antler since there are large multiple intersecting planes each requiring a portion of the depth available.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
As you can see there isn't a lot of depth to work with, so it will be a bit of challenge to create the shapes in a way which does not make the design appear overly flat.

All of the carving at this stage is done with Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the left moose antler has been carved with attention to the lower portion of the antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
I have begun to define the planes on the design elements on the lower palm and establish where all the design elements come together in the butt of the moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Areas left undone at this point include the major tine, with its deformity. I hope to carry the diamond shape over from the right moose antler to use in this area.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 8) by Shane Wilson
Consistent with the work so far, the tools remain the same: Foredom S and H Series, with 1/4" shank burrs (straight and rounded over shapes), and some tight angle work with the NSK and a 1/8" shank straight burr.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I have continued to carve the left moose antler with large Foredom grinders and 1/4" burrs. I have also made some use of the smaller NSK Emax micro-motor with 1/8" burrs to begin to get into some of the tight angles.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
In this detail shot you can see how the design elements are beginning to 'find their place' in relation to each other, but the carving is still very rough.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
There is much more antler to work with toward the antler's base, so I will use this depth of material to weave the design elements in greater relief, just hinted at in this preliminary stage.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 7) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the negative spaces in the moose antler have been removed, leaving material around the cuts to refine and adjust the moose antler carving in the next phase.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have drilled the pilot holes in the moose antler with a drill press and begun to 'join the dots' with a sabre saw/jig saw. I used to use a scroll saw with a multidirectional blade for this kind of work, but learned from fellow carver, Lynn Holroyd, that a sabre saw/jig saw works just as well and allows for more control when cutting larger moose antlers, which can be clamped, freeing the hands to work the saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, the left moose antler the negative spaces have been cut out of the antler with the sabre saw/scroll saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Make sure you use good blades of a reasonable narrow width. Mine were DeWalt 3", 12 TPI blades made from cobalt steel.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 5) by Shane Wilson
Normally I go through 10-20 scroll saw blades when cutting the negative spaces from a moose antler before carving. This time, I removed the waste antler from both the left and right moose antlers and only lost one blade!
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the carving on the left moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
This is the stage where critical choices are made along each border in the design about which planes come forward and which planes recede.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 6) by Shane Wilson
All of the carving at this stage is done with Foredom S and H Series Flexible Shaft Grinders, with large, 1/4" single fluted, carbide burrs.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

I used the band saw to remove the obvious cuts on the outer edges of the moose antler.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
Before cutting out the negative spaces on the inside of the design, it is necessary to drill pilot holes in the moose antler to receive the blade from either a scroll saw or a sabre saw/jig saw.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 4) by Shane Wilson
In the past, I used smaller diameter bits in an electric drill, but I have found that the larger diameter bits in a drill press make life a whole lot easier.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

It is always a good idea to let design ideas sit for a while. I find that it is possible to see and correct weak areas and add interest and complexity. The red areas will be removed to create negative space within the design.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
On the left moose antler, I have clarified the design shapes, added negative space elements within the shapes and included spherical elements within those shapes. My hope is that the overall design will tie into the previously created sculptures in the Skullpture Series.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

It is always a good idea to let design ideas sit for a while. I find that it is possible to see and correct weak areas and add interest and complexity. The red areas will be removed to create negative space within the design.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 3) by Shane Wilson
On the right moose antler, this involved simplifying some of the design shapes and the addition of round elements both as negative spaces and positive shapes, again to tie into the design on the left antler and relate to other sculptures in the Skullpture Series.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Black Bear 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the design was transfered free-hand onto the right moose antler, after the moose antler was sanded lightly with an angle grinder to clean and smooth out the surface.

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In the next phases I'll determine where the negative spaces will be located within the design, cut those out, and rough in the major planes on the moose antler.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase the design was transfered free-hand onto the left moose antler, after the moose antler was sanded lightly with an angle grinder to clean and smooth out the surface.

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 2) by Shane Wilson

In the next phases I'll determine where the negative spaces will be located within the design, cut those out, and rough in the major planes on the moose antler.

Skullpture Series - Moose (in
Shane Wilson designing moose antler carving on left moose antler
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Right Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I photographed the right moose antler and printed it out on paper to create the design, making use of some of the natural lines within the moose antler. (Note: I am designating this antler as the right antler, since it appears on the right when viewed, so it is the observer's right)

Skullpture Series, Moose (right moose antler - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Left Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

In this phase I photographed the left moose antler and printed it out on paper to create the design, making use of some of the natural lines within the moose antler. (Note: I am designating this antler as the left antler, since it appears on the left when viewed, so it is the observer's left)

Skullpture Series, Moose (left moose antler - in progress - phase 1) by Shane Wilson
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Moose: Gaia' (Begin) by Shane Wilson (carved bronze antler sculpture)

This moose antler carving and bronze moose skull will be the final installment in my Skullpture Series, 2007.

Skullpture Series, Moose (moose antler bronze skull - in progress - beginning) by Shane Wilson

The moose antlers will be designed and carved and will attached to a cast carved moose skull. The original skull is shown here and used for measurement purposes.

Skullpture Series, Moose (moose antler bronze skull - in progress - beginning) by Shane Wilson

A mold will be taken from the skull and a wax pulled from that mold. The wax will then be carved with the design and then cast in bronze using the lost wax process.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved moose antler bronze skulls)

This sculpture is designed to fit in this specific location, so the sculpture will need to adhere to very specific dimensions.
(moose antler bronze skull carving, moose antler bronze skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Seal 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Seal 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Small Wolverine 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson


The front portion of the right musk oxen horn has been completely carved.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 15 (carved musk oxen horn)
Now to finish the rear portion of the right musk oxen horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the front side of the right musk oxen horn has been further refined and is almost finished.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 14 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have used various sizes of the ball shaped burr in this phase, starting from the larger ball on a 3/32" shaft, working down to the smallest ball shape available on the same sized shaft.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 14 (carved musk oxen horn)
Remaining to be done are some touch up details, undercuts and the final sanding on the right musk oxen horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

In this phase I have reworked the background again, so that it is uniform around and along the entire right musk oxen horn. This has been challenging due to the shape of the musk oxen horn, which is never uniform as it tapers to the point. I have begun shaping the end of the musk oxen horn, so that it appears to flow out of the design at the same level as the background.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 13 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design has also been further refined and shaped along the entire musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 13 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have been finding that musk oxen horn tends to be very hard on tools, dulling burrs easily and clogging the bearings in the micro-motor grinders which I rely on heavily. I have sent two hand-pieces for repair so far and will likely need to send a third. These hand-pieces cost about $1000 each. To give some sense of the wear and tear of musk oxen horn vs moose or caribou antler, I generally send one hand-piece for repair (new bearings) every two or three years when carving moose or caribou antler. Why the difference? Perhaps it is the toughness of the hair-like material that makes up the musk oxen horn, tougher even than dall sheep horn.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Male Seahorse', 2007 by Shane Wilson - Stand (moose antler carving)

The commissioner of the Seahorses decided not to mount them in a shadow box, as I had anticipated. Instead, he created elegantly simple metal bases to allow the sculptures to present as freestanding.

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
While I initially preferred that the backs of the sculptures not be exposed (since they are unfinished), the stands do compliment the Seahorses quite well.

I have been told that visitors to the commissioner's house have remarked with amazement about the contrast between the rough antler and the finished carving. Check out the video clip (link below).

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
The Seahorses can be removed from the stands for closer examination due to the use of rare earth magnets, embedded in the wood backing, which otherwise secure the sculptures to the stands.

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)

LINKS: YouTube - One visitor's reaction to the Seahorses
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Female Seahorse', 2007 by Shane Wilson - Stand (moose antler carving)

The commissioner of the Seahorses decided not to mount them in a shadow box, as I had anticipated. Instead, he created elegantly simple metal bases to allow the sculptures to present as freestanding.

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
While I initially preferred that the backs of the sculptures not be exposed (since they are unfinished), the stands do compliment the Seahorses quite well.

I have been told that visitors to the commissioner's house have remarked with amazement about the contrast between the rough antler and the finished carving. Check out the video clip (link below).

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)
The Seahorses can be removed from the stands for closer examination due to the use of rare earth magnets, embedded in the wood backing, which otherwise secure the sculptures to the stands.

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson, stand (carved moose antler)

LINKS: YouTube - One visitor's reaction to the Seahorses
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses', 2007 (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

Seahorses, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

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

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'Seahorses' (Female - Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

After a serious amount of further refining and polishing , both carvings are done! A 1" thick block of oak has been added to the back of each carving, joined with Liquid Nails, to avoid long term damage from screws in antler. The carvings will be fastened onto a back board by these wooden blocks.

Female Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

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

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, the carving has been cleaned up, and by this I mean, attention has been paid to the corners and small areas, to make the overall impression crisper and sharper. I have added the lines, indicating the plates or divisions on the seahorse's body.

All that remains now is to sand and polish, then apply a backing, which will enable the carving to be mounted in a shadow box.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 12 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, the tail is finished and more attention has been paid to the face, particularly the eye and forehead. I will now spend a little time cleaning up the entire carving and add the lines indicated in red.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 11 (carved moose antler)

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 11 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The level of detail in this carving may be a little over the top, to be sure, but the overall effect seems to be working. Each tiny section takes several hours to complete. I have been using dental burrs to create the fine detail.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 10 (carved moose antler)
The design evolves, becoming concrete in the carving process.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

After quite an haitus, I have begun again on the Female Seahorse, roughing and refining the body details. It is good to be working in antler again.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 9 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

I have begun to rough out the carving's basic shapes, beginning with the nose and part of the face, as well as the belly and chest areas.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 8 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have transferred the pattern from the original concept drawing to the antler. I have made a few changes to reflect the 3D surface of the antler. I will now begin the process of roughing out the shapes, making decisions about high and low points and the way in which the 2D concept will be realized in high relief.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

I have begun to round down the edges of the seahorse body and define the planes of the spines. Also the tail is begining to take shape with an evident curl on the end.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have refined the outline on both seahorses and added a grid for the initial roughing out of the planes. The edging might look like a simple task, but it is a challenge to refine the shapes down through the material, keeping the edges straight despite the curving plane of the antler and the varying thicknesses of the material.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have designed the edges of the female seahorse to repeat the interior pattern and then reduced the antler to this outline.


Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have created a preliminary design for the carving on the photocopied template images of the seahorse.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The image has been cut from the antler using a band saw. I changed the blade prior to making the cuts and found the new blade cut well and held a line. It seems that after a while a band saw blade will start to stray, making precise cuts impossible.

In this case, both seahorses were roughed out, leaving room on the edges for later developments and design considerations. Since the blade used was 3/8" in depth, the cuts were not contoured exactly to the design.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
As you can see from the side shots, the antler is quite thick at the tip of the tail, which should allow for an effect that will emulate the seahorse if it were realized 'in the round.'

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
The next step will be to determine the actual borders of the design and to reduce the antler to that border with the band saw and burrs.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Female - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

I have chosen the antler that best suits the image and the carving. The thick areas of the antler are aligned with the tail section, to allow for a deeper curl.

Female Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

After a serious amount of further refining and polishing , both carvings are done! A 1" thick block of oak has been added to the back of each carving, joined with Liquid Nails, to avoid long term damage from screws in antler. The carvings will be fastened onto a back board by these wooden blocks.

Male Seahorse, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

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

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, the detail has been worked out for the remainder of this seahorse. All that remains now is to refine the lines, sand and polish!

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 12 (carved moose antler)

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 12 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have sketched in the remainder of the design on the main portion of the body and head.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 11 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have used a variety of precise carbide burrs, with a 1/8" shank or less, to rough out the designs on the raised oval areas.

While carving the design into the antler over the last few days, I have wondered about the meaning of the squiggles beneath my tools. All of the squiggles emerged from the texture evident in the photograph of the seahorse. Some of the squiggles have taken on the appearance of familiar things. But what do they mean? I then wondered if there was any meaning at all in what I do.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 10 (carved moose antler)
It occured to me that, in isolation, the sqiggles and shapes meant nothing. It is only when they are taken together that something happens within the observer - just as the individual notes of a symphony mean nothing and yet something happens, within the listener, when they are played together. The meaning is not so much rational, or something that can be reduced to words and phrases, but , what? Emotional? Spiritual? I'm not really sure these overused categories are able to describe the kind of effect I am talking about. The experience of the overall design can generate an altered state within the observer, one of warmth, pleasure, or excitement. It takes one to a different place within oneself, from which one returns a little richer ...
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase the face has been roughed out.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 9 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, the larger design elements on the body have been carved out in rough. I will leave the head for a bit to insure that its design will integrate with the final design of the body. The next step will be to place within and between the ovals the detailed design structure.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 8 (carved moose antler)

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 8
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, the primary elements (ovals) have been redesigned to take into consideration the actual edge elements and structure of the antler. I hope to preserve much of the original paper design, but we'll have to see after roughing out this phase.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

This phase has included the roughing out of the major contours and the definition of the outer bumpy elements. Note that the tail is beginning to take shape, using the natural curve and bulk of the original antler.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have refined the outline on both seahorses and added a grid for the initial roughing out of the planes. The edging might look like a simple task, but it is a challenge to refine the shapes down through the material, keeping the edges straight despite the curving plane of the antler and the varying thicknesses of the material.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have designed the edges of the male seahorse to repeat the interior pattern and then reduced the antler to this outline.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have created a preliminary design for the carving on the photocopied template images of the seahorse.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The image has been cut from the antler using a band saw. I changed the blade prior to making the cuts and found the new blade cut well and held a line. It seems that after a while a band saw blade will start to stray, making precise cuts impossible.

In this case, both seahorses were roughed out, leaving room on the edges for later developments and design considerations. Since the blade used was 3/8" in depth, the cuts were not contoured exactly to the design.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
As you can see from the side shots, the antler is quite thick at the tip of the tail, which should allow for an effect that will emulate the seahorse if it were realized 'in the round.'

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
The next step will be to determine the actual borders of the design and to reduce the antler to that border with the band saw and burrs.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Male - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

I have chosen the antler that best suits the image and the carving. The thick areas of the antler are aligned with the tail section, to allow for a deeper curl.

Male Seahorse by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose antler)
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Seahorses' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

I have been commissioned to carve two seahorses in antler, with the proviso that they be realized in an abstract fashion, with the duality theme (angles and curves).

After considerable research into the seahorse, I have settled on two seahorses of the barbouri type. They have interesting protrusions, or barbs (though their names come from the fact that they are found in the Sea of Barbour) and a very nice shape. As with all seahorses, the male caries the young, and this fellow is no exception. He is 'pregnant' as evidenced by his pouch, just above the tail.

Seahorses by Shane Wilson, in progress, beginning<br /><br />Jason (my brother) and his partner Kerrin have commissioned me to carve two seahorses in antler, with the proviso that they be realized in an abstract fashion, with the duality theme (angles and curves).<br /><br />After considerable research into the seahorse, I have settled on two seahorses of the barbouri type. They have interesting protrusions, or barbs (though their names come from the fact that they are found in the Sea of Barbour) and a very nice shape. As with all seahorses, the male caries the young, and this fellow is no exception. He is 'pregnant' as evidenced by his pouch, just above the tail.<br /><br />I am not certain how I will realize the abstract theme within the shapes of the seahorses, but the male will likely be predominantly curvy (using ovals, circles and cones) and the female will be realized using angular shapes (rectangle, square, pyramid).<br /><br />They will be carved from separate antlers, due to their size, and be mounted together in a shadow-box frame
I am not certain how I will realize the abstract theme within the shapes of the seahorses, but the male will likely be predominantly curvy (using ovals, circles and cones) and the female will be realized using angular shapes (rectangle, square, pyramid).

They will be carved from separate antlers, due to their size, and be mounted together in a shadow-box frame.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

These two shots, taken at different angles, show further shaping and refining work on the right musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 12 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 12 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
The entire surface of the right horn has been worked in this phase. The front, broad portion is nearing completion. The mid section is showing some progress but there is much more to be done.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
The brown pencil crayon markings show where I will carve next. I use pencil crayon and not pencil, because the pencil crayon's waxy texture keeps it on the surface of the work, where it is easily carved away. The graphite in a pencil tends to find its way into nooks and crannies, potentially remaining to alter the final finish.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 11 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk ox horn carving, musk ox horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

I have worked the back surface of the horn in this phase. Not quite there yet ...

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 10 (carved musk oxen horn)
(horn carving, horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The upper portion of the rough area on the right musk oxen horn has been leveled slightly, to allow for better flow of the overall composition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 9 (carved musk oxen horn)
The entire horn has been further carved and refined with attention paid to the composition of the right musk oxen horn just above the rough area. It needs to work from multiple angles and I am still trying to determine the best combination and form of the shapes, particularly the circular ones.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 9 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 8 (carved musk oxen horn)
The composition of the upper portion of the horn needed some adjustment. The before shot (below) shows the portions to be removed, the after shot (above) shows those portions removed and further areas for consideration.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 8 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
In this phase, I have concentrated on a preliminary shaping of the front, broad section of the right horn. The shapes are beginning to take on a life of their own! You may notice that the rough portions, above and below the carved portion, have been smoothed over and refined. The top edge has also been removed to simplify the overall line of the right horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
Below note that more shaping has taken place along the length of the horn, the red areas indicate places where the lower background is to be further refined.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 7 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

On the forward facing side of the right horn (below), I have begun to round over some of the shapes. There is still plenty of messiness and I'll need to make some more decisions about which elements to keep and which to remove.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 6 (carved musk oxen horn)
You can see below that the rear portion of the horn has been cleaned up and the lower level more clearly defined. I have yet to do any shaping and there are still some tricky passages that have yet to be resolved, especially the knotty bit, midway up on the right.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 6 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Further fine tuning of the depth of the background and the positions of some of the shapes, relative to each other, has taken place. It is important to keep the lowest plane even throughout the carving to create the impression that the carved elements are actually on top of the horn itself.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)
Note that the marked areas are the next to be adjusted or carved away in the next phase.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 5 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Human 1, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Human 1, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Human 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)

Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Grizzly 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Grizzly 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series - Black Bear 2, 2007' by Shane Wilson (carved bronze sculpture)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skull)

Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice, 1999 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The shapes are finished, refined and smoothed on both sides. It is done!

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

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 10 (carved moose antler)

I have redesigned the front face of Candle Ice.

The lines are simplified and a little cleaner than before. The tines have been reduced in size in order to focus attention on the palm of the antler. The upper portion of the antler has been completely redone and the section close to the base has also been changed.

Completing this carving has been a little like running a race, where the finish line recedes every time it comes into view! Because the front has been redesigned, the back will need to be redone as well, then the final sanding and polishing.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 9 (carved moose antler)

The back is now roughed out and I am on to the task of refining then finishing the entire piece.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 8 (carved moose antler)

The last few days have been very intense. Now that I have resolved the technical difficulties associated with this aspect of the carving, the work has progressed non-stop.

I have also made some decisions with regard to the front of the carving, because I like how the back is turning out. The front is too busy, so I will simplify the design on the upper portion of the antler. However, I'll wait on this until the back is completed, then assess it again.

I think I will change the tine length too, so that the tips touch a line along an arc. Also, the second tine from the bottom, huge and impressive as it is, may need to be reduced a little bit to center the design on the main portion of the antler.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 7 (carved moose antler)

This phase has been the most difficult technically. Working to create a second relief that appears to be the back of the design blending seamlessly with the front, is not easy. If the piece were to be view directly from either front or back, then the illusion would be complete. However, from the sides, it is a different matter. Such are the challenges of the media!
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 6 (carved moose antler)

I am now almost finished roughing out the main face.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

I've just progressed down the antler. The carving techniques and tools are the same.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Candle Ice' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Candle Ice by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

This phase, I roughed out some of the basic shapes, planes and lines on the upper portion of the antler. Though it is slow going at this point, with plenty of decisions to be made, I am pleased with the results.

As I carve the triangles they appear more delicate and do seem to resemble ice crystals from a spring lake or giant window pane.

At this point I am using 1/4" straight and rounded cone bits on the Foredom, a 1/8" straight bit on the NSK Electer GX, and small dental bits on the Dremel. It is nice to have a few different tools on hand to minimize the need for changing bits. I can switch between roughing out the larger areas and cleaning the tiny angles in seconds. It is easier on the tools too, allowing them time to cool down between uses.

Lee Valley/Veritas, has designed and produced a new Carver's Bench, and is it a dream! I am using some of the larger hold down clamps with it and can now work hands free, changing the angle and rotation of the piece with ease. If you are a carver or sculptor and need to secure work, it is a must have item. It will work well with any kind of material (even stone) and can handle substantial weight.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'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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'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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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

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

Celtic Confusion was damaged in shipment (October 1999). The stand, originally attached to the back, broke away from the sculpture.

Instead of re-attaching the stand, I decided to redesign the back without an attached stand. The carved portion, evident in the last image above, is new. The sculpture will now be displayed on a separate stand.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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).
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(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.
(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 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' (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 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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (musk oxen horns and bronze skull)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, start (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

The intention for this commission, is that I carve something of my own design from a set musk oxen horns and partial skull.

The horns come from Banks Island in the Northwest Territories. Musk Oxen were reintroduced on the island some years ago and have flourished, due in part to lack of natural predation. It is therefore necessary to cull the herd each year, to keep the size of the herd sustainable, and it is from this cull that these horns were taken.

After playing with a variety of ideas for this sculpture, I have settled on the notion of an abstract self-portrait, combining the musk ox horn with a bronze human skull. The horn lends itself to a life 'story', starting narrowly in the black on one side (birth), growing to a massive middle with a break (midlife), and narrowing again to black on the other side (death). The skull presides over its life story and remains, along with some of life's fruit, when the story is done.


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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design on the left side represents the first half of life, up to middle age. In an abstract way, it will illustrate the formation of self and its tentative, creative efforts at identity and life-work. I have retained some of the original horn surface, serving to illustrate the dross we inevitably produce as we go along.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2
I have roughed out the first portion of the design on the left horn. The depth of the carving has not yet been established, but the initial pattern is in evidence. I have used the NSK micromotor tool with a 3/32" rounded burr to outline the design and a 1/8" inverted cone to remove waste and create definition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Left Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3 (carved musk oxen horn)
Step 4

In this phase, several sequential pictures from the past two months illustrate progress as the depths of the background and abstract shapes are established and refined. It has been interesting to discover just how much material is available for carving within a musk oxen horn. The texture and colour of the horn changes from the upper, white, striated, surface, through the middle, clear, toffee-coloured section to the inner, dark and striated core.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 3

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 2

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, left horn, phase 3
Step 1
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
The design on the right horn is more complicated and yet more unified than that on the left. It signals a consolidation of the self-identity and life-work of the individual.

This consolidation, and the working through of the accumulated dross of one's life, yields precious fruit, one's legacy.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 1 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Right Musk Oxen Horn - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn, phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
I have roughed out the first portion of the design on the right horn. The depth of the carving has not yet been established, but the initial pattern is in evidence. I have used the NSK micromotor tool with a 3/32" rounded burr to outline the design and a 1/8" inverted cone to remove waste and create definition.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, right horn phase 2 (carved musk oxen horn)
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

I have given the skull portion of this sculpture much thought. The human skull does not seem to work with the overall design. I find it too large for the carved horns, overwhelming them. Experimenting with different skull possibilities, I believe I have found a skull which works much better with the carved horn, a wolf skull.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 1 (carved bronze skull)
Not only are wolves and musk oxen found together on the tundra, the design of the skull works well with the architecture of the horns. The lines within the skull mimic the curve of the horns and the overall effect of the skull and horn set is an organic unity resembling a prehistoric bird, a pteradacyl-like creature.

So, while the original design intention remains, that of a self-portrait, a second layer of design complexity is added, that of the possibility that this creation is a creature unto itself. Perhaps this serendipity of design illustrates how one's life-work can take on a life of its own?

The image shows the skull in its wax form, prior to carving and casting. The next step is to carve the wax, so that the pattern reflects and amplifies the overall design of the carved antler. The skull is positioned facing right, or the future, considering possiblities yet to be ...

(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
In this phase the wax skull has been reduced to clean the lines and remove excess material from the bottom of the skull. The nose and eyebrow portion have been textured along the nose to mimic the rough portion of the musk oxen horn.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
In the picture below, you can see some of the tools used to sculpt wax: dental pics, wax carving tools, scewdriver, butane torch, wax paper, heat pencil.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 2 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
In this phase a negative space has been created along the length of the nose and forehead to echo the space between the two horns. I have begun to add the abstract detail to the left side and experiment with negative space around these details. This type of wax is not ideal for carving, since it is very soft and somewhat sticky, however the main shapes and design elements can be roughed out easily enough. The final detail will be honed in the bronze itself, after casting.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
The manner in which the bronze wolf skull and muskoxen horns will be mounted together has been much on my mind. As a temporary measure, you can see that I am using pieces of styrofoam to position the skull. As for a permanent solution, it would be a shame to add a support element that distracts or obscures the carving. I think I like the idea of the skull floating (or appearing to float) above the carved horns. A clear acrylic pillar may be the best solution, allowing the skull and horns to be fixed together, while appearing as if one is floating above the other. The pillar could extend through the horns to a base, allowing the horns to float above the base as well.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 3 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Bronze Wolf Skull - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 4 (carved bronze skull)
I have completed roughing in the left and right sides of the wax wolf skull. Each side's design echos elements from the carving below it. The balance of the skull will remain uncarved, to remain consistent with the tips of the horns and to keep the focus of the whole on the carving itself.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, bronze skull, phase 4 (carved bronze skull)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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'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)

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