'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' (Begin) by Shane Wilson

Jamie Stagnitta of Mr. Pink Art Consultants has asked me to create a double abstract moose antler sculpture for a private residence.

'Ahead of the Curves' (Begin-a) by Shane Wilson

These moose antlers, acquired from John Maissan, will form a beautifully symmetrical pair ideally suited to the purpose!

'Ahead of the Curves' (Begin-b) by Shane Wilson

'Ahead of the Curves' (Begin-c) by Shane Wilson


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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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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 44) by Shane Wilson

In this phase I have worked the entire right antler, roughing out the border and major elements within the antler including three flying short eared owls, a vole and a garter snake.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 44 - full sculpture) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 44 - full sculpture) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 44 - right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 44 - right antler) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (upper portion of right antler - three flying short eared owls, over estuary, front) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper portion of right antler - three flying short eared owls, over estuary, front) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (lower portion of right antler - garter snake and vole in grass, top angle) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower portion of right antler - garter snake and vole in grass, top angle) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (lower portion of right antler - garter snake and vole in grass, low angle) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower portion of right antler - garter snake and vole in grass, low angle) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (full sculpture prior to Phase44) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (full sculpture prior to Phase 44) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the final carving and sanding was completed and the satin acrylic applied. Now dry, it is time to professionally photograph the sculpture and then ship it to Toronto for installation in the lobby of the new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, located in the Yorkville district.

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 13a) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 13b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 13d) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 13c) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Although this work on the back of the antler was not part of the original commission, I have added it to enhance the effect, since the plinth will enable viewers to walk completely around the sculpture.

Again, the images are from the most recent version to the earliest.

The refining process to come will involve a careful working of the lines from the front and back at the same time, in order to avoid creating lines on one side that are not consistent with the lines on the other.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 12d) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 12c) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 12b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 12a) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The portion of the antler that joins the skull is called the 'seal' and the bumpy ridge around the perimeter of this area is called the 'coronet'. Each year the adult bull moose sheds his antlers when the seal deteriorates and separates from the skull. Generally this leaves a uniform curved, raised surface on the seal (as was the case with the left antler).

In this case, the seal was formed unevenly, with a large indentation or groove bisecting the surface (A). My initial design response to this anomaly was to create a kind of inverse palette and tongue shape on the seal and accentuate the facets of the coronet (B). However, this didn't seem to work with the overall sharply angled pattern when both antlers were viewed together. I found this element distracting.

What it seemed to need was an angular feel, to tie into the angles in the main portion of the antler, across the rounded hub section (C). At the same time, I minimized the coronet facets to round out the feel along the end of the antler, to establish some consistency with the left antler's coronet's rounded shape (D).

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 11d - coronet and seal) by Shane Wilson
D. Coronet and seal, final detail.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 11c - coronet and seal) by Shane Wilson
C. Adding angled elements and minimizing coronet facets.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 11b - coronet and seal) by Shane Wilson
B. First attempt at a design solution.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 11a - coronet and seal) by Shane Wilson
A. Initial shape of the coronet and seal with groove.


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'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

The front side of the right antler of 'Candle Ice Two' has been carved and refined in a preliminary fashion. Once the back side is carved, I'll return again to the front for a final refining pass.

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 10d) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 10c) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 10b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Right Antler - Phase 10a) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 38) by Shane Wilson

The short eared owl chick is complete. Note the detailing on the feet, lower feathers and adjacent fence post, added in this phase.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase38 - Left Antler), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase38 - Left Antler, close), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase38a-owl chick), by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 37) by Shane Wilson

I experimented with a few different treatments for the breast feathers on the short eared owl chick, before deciding to render them with fine detail, simulating the fine, almost hair-like nature of the downy baby feathers themselves.

I also wanted to create levels of complexity within the fine-feathered element to provide both a sense of depth and lightness, as the feathers blow against the chick as it stands its ground in a gentle breeze.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase37a-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase37b-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase37c-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase37d-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase37e-owl chick), by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 36) by Shane Wilson

I have returned to finish the small perched owl and its tree. (For the last In Progress entry on this owl, see Phase 24, from last year.)

They eye was particularly challenging, as it was necessary to create an effect that would read properly from a moderate distance. My early attempts created an effect that looked great up close by appeared flat and almost uncarved from a distance. (Scroll down for earlier versions of the small owl.)

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase36a - perched owl and tree), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase36b - perched owl, close), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase36c - perched owl, close), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase36d - perched owl, close), by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 35) by Shane Wilson

Three more phases on the baby owl, with a focus on the head and eyes. This is a very thin area to work a fully front facing relief, so it is important to establish the basics first: eyes and beak. The rest will follow in relation to these basics.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase35c-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase35b-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase35a-owl chick), by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler Finished) by Shane Wilson

Though the lighting is poor, the left antler has been completed. Here it is on its own, front and back and oriented beside the right antler, prior to carving.

'Candle Ice Two' (left antler, completed, 3/4 view pair) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (left antler, front) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (left antler, back) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (left antler, complete) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Carving on the left moose antler is finished, front and back worked to a complementary state of completion. I have applied a coating of satin lacquer to seal and protect the antler.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler, front - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson
'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson (front view)

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler,back - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson
'Candle Ice Two' by Shane Wilson (rear view)


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Time to give some thought to the support for the sculpture and the means by which it will be attached to the plinth. It is difficult to make this determination prior to the completion of the bulk of the carving, since the balance points will change as material is removed.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8a) by Shane Wilson
It turns out that this antler balances quite well with a little pressure on the outlying tine, seen here held with the black Veritas bench clamp. It should be possible to add a fastening element at this point to join antler to plinth.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8c) by Shane Wilson
It may also be prudent to add a supporting element to the back of the sculpture, where I have placed the brass post in the third image. This will take some of the weight of the sculpture and make the installation a little more secure.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 8b) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to preserve the cool curvy shapes around the base of the antler, while working an angular pattern into the butt as an embellishment that will tie the overall abstract triangular pattern together around the smooth curved hub.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 7a) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 7b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 7c) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

Although this work on the back of the antler was not part of the original commission, I have added it to enhance the effect, since the plinth will enable viewers to walk completely around the sculpture.

Again, the images are from the most recent version to the earliest.

The refining process to come will involve a careful working of the lines from the front and back at the same time, in order to avoid creating lines on one side that are not consistent with the lines on the other.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 6d) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 6c) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 6b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 6a) by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

The following images (latest to earliest as you scroll down) indicate the stages of the roughing out process on the front face of the left moose antler of the pair that make up this sculpture.

There is still quite a bit of refining of the lines yet to be done, but I will move on to the reverse of the antler to create a shallow relief version which will mirror the front. This will serve to heighten the illusion that the sculpture is made of individual shards of candle ice.

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 5d) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 5c) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 5b) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Left Antler - Phase 5a) by Shane Wilson


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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' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

The antlers have been 'skinned' and prepared to receive the design, which will be created directly on the surface of the antlers. Skinning the antlers is effected by lightly sanding the surface with an angle grinder and sanding disks.

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

I have used a variety of angle grinders over the years and have found the
Walter 4.5" slip-clutch grinder to be a superior tool. It operates very smoothly, with no wrenching action on start-up, and disk changes are a breeze.

Walter 4.5


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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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'Five Wolves' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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'Five Wolves' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

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

Thinking of Christmas ...

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

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

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

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

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



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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 26) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to do a little grunt work on the major planes, outlines and borders, as well as some refining of the eggs in the short eared owl nest.

The eggs in the foreground are created in relatively high relief compared to the eggs closer to the brooding owl, which are carved in lower relief.

Lighting will be key in the final display of this sculpture.

'Short Eared Parliament' - Phase 26 - by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 15) by Shane Wilson

Before the carving can begin, it is necessary to rig the antlers and skull set to two counter-weights.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, front view
This neutralizes the weight of the antlers, which is considerable, and allows for easier manipulation during the carving process.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, side view
I have used 1/8" coated wire, swivelling pulleys, multipurpose ties and milk crates with 'play sand' in this set up.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, close view, antler attachment point
The pulleys above the sculpture are set close together to facilitate spinning the antlers around a centre point.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, pulleys above sculpture
Each antler is wired to its own counter-weight to allow independent movement.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, counter-weights
A rope fixed loosely around the skull and attached to the ceiling serves as a safety catch, in case one of the hooks or attachments fails.

'Short Eared Parliament' - rigging, safety rope


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'Integration' by Shane Wilson (Discovery and Recovery by Peter Harms)

I will be posting the story here of the discovery and recovery of a massive set of antlers from a rugged Yukon mountain top in September 2002 by Peter Harms. It's quite a tale - Peter is a fair raconteur and bush man, so it will be worth the wait ...

For now, here are some of the pictures he took on his expedition to bring these antlers down from on high.

The antler set will be carved into an abstract masterpiece, entitled 'Integration' which will bring together the two elements of angles and curves which I've used in the 'Duality' sculptures.

Integration - moose skull and skeleton where found

Integration - snow moving in fast

shelter where Peter Harms spent night waiting for plane to remove moose skull and antlers

strapping down moose skull and antlers - 'Integration'


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Further refinements of the design:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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'Short Eared Parliament', Reference Pics-Environment 1

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

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic #1

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

Short Eared Parliament - Environment Reference Pic - RIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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






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'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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'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 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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'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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'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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'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 - 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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'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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 1 (carved moose antler and skull)

In order to represent the four seasons of Yukon, I decided to use animals engaged in typical seasonal activities. This drawing will be done on the left antler, as you face the carving. The winter scene on the top, changes to spring through the representation of ice breaking up, morphing into birds migrating back to the Yukon for their annual ritual of nesting and rearing young. The birds will 'fly' off the antler and down towards the nose of the skull. This will lead into the fall pattern of salmon spawning up from the nose on the other side and into the antler on the right.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Well over 150 hours has been spent on this phase. Once the drawings were transferred to the antler, it was necessary to create the remainder of the design in such a way that the animals received maximum exposure for relief work and still looked reasonable from all angles.

Part of the challenge with this piece has been to create a design that is pleasing from the front, as the work will most likely be viewed initially from this angle. If you note from the initial pic of the whole, the antlers are tilted in towards the centre. This means that it was necessary to incorporate the borders of each antler into the overall design, so that the eye is drawn into the composition and the viewer moves unconsciously into a position to see each antler from its most advantageous angle. Otherwise, the relief work, which is intended primarily to be viewed from the perpendicular, will seem flat, distorted and poorly executed.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 2 (carved moose antler and skull)

On the left side border, I have chosen to represent the predominant atmospheric conditions during winter in the Yukon, snow and ice fog. These create the impression of a frame around the central composition, enticing the viewer to move into a better position to see the relief work from the proper angle. These two design elements, snow and ice fog, are represented by geometric shapes, hexagons and triangles, and will be carved in shallow relief and of different sizes to represent depth of field, as if the viewer was in the midst of a snow fall or peering through ice fog on a -40 degree day.

The trees at the top of the antler are either stripped of leaves (deciduous) or burdened with snow (coniferous). They are meant to appear at various distances from the viewer - and the ground, composed of negative space, is meant to be covered with snow. In the winter, there is normally less snow beneath the trees, so I have chosen to ground each tree by creating the image of an ovoid depression (in nature, a negative space) as a positive space, relief element. (How true, in art, that often to achieve a realistic effect, "you must 'lie' in order to tell the 'truth'"!)

The moose and the wolf are surrounded by the continuation of negative space, the continued representation of snow on the ground. The back right leg of the moose, seems to disappear behind the wolf because it is in the deep snow. In fact, wolves are able to hunt moose in the winter when the moose are slowed breaking through the crust into deep snow. The wolves, with their large paws and lighter bodies, remain above the crust, retaining superior maneuverability. The lower border of the winter scene is a positive representation of snow on the ground. Note, the paw of the wolf barely sinking into the skiff of powdered snow above the crust.

The segue into spring occurs below this line, with the bank of a river. The rotting blocks of ice that normally line the banks of a river in the spring are represented by the angular edge. The negative space below this represents open water, which always seems to appear along the banks of both rivers and lakes. The larger geometric shapes below the open water, represent the large blocks of ice that race downstream, colliding with each other in their chaotic race for the sea, and which often form the ice jams which cause flooding in riverside communities throughout Yukon and Alaska.

As a final element of spring, I had intended to morph the ice flows into migratory birds, however, the design just didn't work when applied to the antler. Instead, I have created an abstract Sandhill Crane within the ice flow itself. The wings and tail project over the border of the antler, while the neck and head extend along the shaft of the antler that attaches to the skull. The Sandhill Cranes are my favorite migratory bird, as they pass over my home in Faro each spring (and fall) by the tens of thousands.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 3 (carved moose antler and skull)

This phase saw the removal of the antler forming the negative spaces. In addition to a counterweight, an assistant helped steady the work, while I removed the material using a scroll saw. As in other carvings, the scroll saw blade used was multidirectional. It is important to ensure that you have many blades, since they break rather frequently. With the counterweight system bearing most of the weight, and with an assistant helping to steady the work, I went through far fewer blades than usual. But they do wear out and break after a few cuts.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 4 (carved moose antler and skull)

Similar to the fourth phase for the right side, I have roughed out the main planes with both straight and tree shaped burrs of various sizes. I find it works well to define a plane on the side furthest from the viewer with a smaller straight burr, then remove the material toward that line with a tree burr and finish with the straight burr to clean up the line. I find that this process repeats itself throughout the roughing out process, using burrs of various sizes depending on the area being worked.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 5 (carved moose antler and skull)

A great deal of work has gone into this phase of the left antler. The moose, river ice and snowflakes have all been roughed in. The refining of the moose and the detailing of the snowflakes will be attended to in a later phase.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 5 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have decided to carve the base of the antler, where it joins the skull, in a way which reflects the nature of ice, thus the overlapping geometric shapes. The base of the other side will be carved almost as is, to represent flowing water in a splashing effect, as over rocks in a stream.

The background of each antler will be carved to contrast with the major shapes represented on the antler. Thus the background carving on the tines of the left side will be rounded to contrast with the geometric emphasis of the ice and snow. Consequently, the right side tines will be carved more sharply to contrast with the smooth flowing lines of the water, land and sun.

Please do not despair about the blockiness or 'rivet-like' quality of the snowflakes. Each will be carved with a unique design or pattern, reflective of the absolutely unique character of every real-world snowflake!


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 5 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)

The ice fog, represented by raised, random triangle shapes, has been carved into the right side of the border of the left antler and the wolf has been roughed in, in a rudimentary fashion.

I am not sure whether to carve a bit of the ice fog below the wolf, or leave that space blank.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)

Ice fog is the same as normal fog, except composed of tiny ice crystals instead of water droplets. It generally forms around bodies of open water or settlements at temperatures of 40 degrees (C or F) or colder with no air movement.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase I have carved the snowflakes and redesigned and roughed out the spring ice and sandhill crane.

Since every snowflake in nature is unique, I decided to carve each snowflake with a unique design. Some resemble real snowflakes and others pick up patterns from the rest of the carving. As such, this allows for the environmental element of snow to serve as itself and as a unique border, blending harmoniously with the whole. Since there is a large sun on the right antler, representing the sun's omnipotence during the summer, there is a correspondingly smaller and less prominent sun/snowflake on this antler (8th from top right). The snowflakes above the sun take on the shapes of winter's night, symbolically representing stars, constellations, the moon, northern lights and the north star (first on right, above the ice fog pattern).

Needless to say, the carving of the snowflakes was delicate and painstaking, involving the NSK micromotor tool and small dental bits.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

Moving down along the sculpture, you come to the section representing spring, with large blocks of ice breaking up. Though it may have been difficult to see, there was an abstract sandhill crane built into the arrangement of the ice blocks. When I came to refine the area, I noticed that the crane looked a bit like it had been crushed under the ice, splayed out like a bug on a windshield.

So it has been redesigned. The crane (a little more realistically portrayed) now appears to be in flight, emerging through the ice, as spring and new life emerge from the deep-freeze of winter. It has been roughed out in this phase; I'll come back to it again after refining the winter figures in the next phase.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase, the trees have been refined, the moose and wolf have been mapped out for refinement and the antlers on the moose have been begun.

I have tried to capture some of the unique looks of the various varieties of trees in winter. The aspens are slender and barren of foliage. The pines are blanketed with snow in that Christmassy way, and the gnarly pine supports stooks of snow on its hardy satellites of growth.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

The moose has been refined in this stage with a relief design meant to portray something of the power of the animal in its winter coat. You can see the top of the wolf marked with the pattern to be carved in the next phase.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)

The wolf has been completed in this phase.

It was a challenge creating the impression that the head is angled toward the moose. I wonder if the medium lends itself better to relief efforts that are parallel with the surface of the antler. Though it is technically possible to carve anything that can be drawn, the surface and thickness of the antler creates its own impression of the form which militates against images which are angled into or away from the viewer across the antler surface. A case in point is the carving I did for FNAWS, 'Faro Fannin.' In that carving the sheep's head is turned on an angle toward the viewer. Though the carving is correctly executed, the viewer does not necessarily pick up on the details of the carving, such as the 3/4 view of the nose, which would indicate the head is angled toward the viewer. Instead, the viewer sees the head as a profile and assumes the sheep is looking away from the viewer at a right angle and is then puzzled why the back horn is so much further ahead than the front horn.

It is hard to overcome the limitations of the medium!

If the image were to be carved on a solid background it might be a little easier to introduce the subtler angles, but I am not willing to sacrifice the illusion of fully rounded figures. Each of the figures in this piece are set on an angle, and they seem to work fine here, but in future I may limit the figures to profiles.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 11

The Sandhill Crane has morphed again into a more realistic bird. Co-incidently, while I was working on this part of the sculpture the Sandhill Cranes migrated through, passing over my studio in flocks of hundreds and thousands. I was able to observe their feather structure and flight pattern with an eye to duplicating the same in antler. It was indeed fortuitous that they passed by when they did, because the pictures I was using for reference were simply not adequate! There is a little more work yet to do on the receding wing, which will be attended to later, when I change the position of the work on the carving bench.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have found that my back has been giving me a little trouble lately, due to inadequate support from my old chair and the need to work in a reaching or stretched position. I broke down and purchased a new office chair, with a very comfortable seat, firm back support, adjustable arm rests and the ability to raise and lower the chair on a gas cylinder. The new chair has made a real difference, providing great support while allowing my hands and arms to work, on each section of the antler at a consistent height and with consistent support.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 12 (carved moose antler and skull)

The effect that I was attempting to create with the crane and the ice was one of melding them into one. They are inseparable in nature, the cranes migrate north when the ice goes out and south when the ice returns.

Originally, the crane was to be represented abstractly in the shapes of the ice. No one 'got it', so I added a bit of definition to the crane ice blocks. Still no one really seemed to 'see' the crane. In the previous phase, I defined the crane and kept it merged with the ice. But the more I considered this section over the past year, the more it looked to me like the crane was trapped in or crushed by the ice. So I removed the ice blocks from over the crane, created a back, defined the rear wing vanishing over the edge of the sculpture, and tied all the body parts together, since they were on different planes of the carving.

I am pleased with the effect, as it gives the appearance now of the crane flying over the ice.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 13 (carved moose antler and skull)

The crane is finished along with the water pattern, flowing beneath the ice. The ice has been cleaned up and finalized.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 13 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this final phase, the ice fog has been cleaned up and the tips have been reduced to match the right side.

LINKS:
In Progress Slide Show - Left Antler
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'Yukon Seasons' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antlers and skull)

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, beginning (carved moose antler and skull)

This commission will represent the four seasons of Yukon. The commissioner's request was that the commission be carved on a full moose skull with antlers.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 1 (carved moose antler and skull)

In the initial design, the migratory birds 'fly' down towards the nose of the skull on the other side. This will lead into the fall pattern of salmon spawning, up from the nose on this side and into the antler, to be caught by the grizzly.

The major seasons of summer and winter are therefore represented on the main portions of each antler, with the transition seasons of spring and fall forming the transition between the antlers and over the skull.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

This section of the sculpture has changed the most from the original plan. This is due in large part to the fact that the migratory bird motif entering from one side and the salmon swimming up on the other side, was not going to work. The scale was wrong and the strength of the base section of the antlers needed to be preserved, due to the fact that the finished sculpture will be mounted by those sections.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 2 (carved moose antler and skull)

What I have done instead is to carry the themes of ice floes from the left, and water from the right, down onto and across the skull. A raven, representing all four seasons, is situated, flying along the top of the skull, between the antlers. The ice fog and snow motifs are set down the centre of the skull, in the 'air' along the path of the raven. On the right side of the skull, two curly patterns further represent spring as emerging plant life (fern: fiddle-heads).
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough out the shapes on the skull. You can see the raven, as well as the snowflakes, water and ice patterns beginning to emerge. I am a little uncertain about the trail behind the raven. It is meant to be an indication of the wake behind the bird as it flies through the ice fog, but it looks a little more like an extension of the tail at this point. I'll pursue the design a little further before deciding on whether or not to remove it.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 3 (carved moose antler and skull)

What you can't see in this shot are the wonderful holes emerging in the design in the thin sections along the side of the skull. I am going to play with these a little more and show you the results next time I update this section of the sculpture.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 4 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have focused on the raven this time. In order to get the wing and tail feather structure right it was necessary to observe ravens soaring in the wild.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 5 (carved moose antler and skull)

After considerable thought and examination of the structure of the skull, I decided to fashion the bridge of the nose into a screen, penetrating the ice-fog shapes through the bone, instead of displaying them in relief. I think the effect is quite striking, as it allows the negative space within the skull to emerge through the openings, giving the whole a feeling of lightness and depth.

In this phase, I have also cleaned up the back of the two antlers, which had remained rough until now, and also further cleaned up the interior of the skull, refining some of the inner lines and lines along the nose.
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)

The skull is almost complete, except for the snow flakes, final clean-up and sanding. On the right side the pattern has become a dall sheep horn in thin relief. The left side remains unchanged, a combination of ice breaking up and water flowing over from the other side. The raven has been completely roughed out and needs only to be sharpened and sanded. The contrail flowing out from behind the raven proved distracting, ruining the visual flow between the antlers, and so has been removed.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 6 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase I completed the snowflakes on the face of the skull (those on the rear remain to be done.) Note the patterns on the left snowflakes pick up design elements from the right of the sculpture and the left pick up elements of the right. This serves to balance the sculpture and provide unity.

The raven has been sharpened up considerably, as has the ice fog grill.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase  (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have decided to break up the lower part of the nose design and introduce an element of space that should add visual interest. I am not sure what the final form of this design will be, so I'll live with the current modifications for a while and see what comes to me.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase, I have designed and refined the stand for the carving. It has been created in such a way as to minimize its presence, obscuring the sculpture as little as possible. The stand is made from a large oak plank: cut, planed and routered. The uprights are drilled from below, then secured by lag bolts and glue.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)
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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)

Prior to finishing with a dark oak stain/varnish, the uprights were tailored to fit the carving and the whole was sanded. The stain was applied in three coats, with a light, steel wool sanding before the second and third coats.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase the centre portion of the skull has been cleaned up and the pattern matched on both sides of the bridge of the nose.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 12 (carved moose antler and skull)

The snowflake behind the raven on the right side has been completed with a snowflake pattern. It was quite difficult to manoeuver the carving tools to accomplish this portion of the carving, due to the close proximity of the right antler base.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

The final two snowflakes are complete. The first one is a border with a hole penetrating the skull to allowing more light to pass through, lightening the overall appearance of the skulls solidity. The second snowflake contains the initials of the commissioner of this work - AB.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 13 (carved moose antler and skull)

Note what appears to be a crack in the outer tail feather of the raven. It is part of the natural fissuring of the skull.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 14 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this view, you can see the entire skull with the antler bases visible and cleaned up.

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

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'Yukon Seasons' (Finshed) by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler and skull)

Yukon Seasons, 2003 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler and skull)

LINKS: Work in Progress Slide Shows: Centre, Left Antler, Right Antler
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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'Tribute to Michio' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio, 1998 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

To complete the work, I used many different kinds of small bits for detail and finishing, with sanding drums, sandpaper, a polishing wheel and compound for the final touch. The stand was fashioned from the section I removed from the lower part of the antler, not visible in the pictures. It was shaped and set into the back of the work with screws and glue, 2-Ton Epoxy.

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

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 6 (carved moose antler)

Sometimes I find that carving is a little like building a house. The initial structure goes up quickly, it's the finicky interior details that take the time. Nevertheless, this is the part that is the most fun. Hours and hours roll by, as small shavings are removed from here and there.
Didn't Picasso once say that art is what you have left when you remove everything that is not necessary?

Every part of the carving has been worked, from deeper cuts in some places to refined cuts and undercuts in others. At this stage, I used both straight bits and the rounded cone bits of various sizes.

The tasks remaining include: refining the shape of the antler's outline - making the right side look a little bit more like a tree; sanding and polishing the whole; and then adding the support on the back to enable the carving to stand on its own.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

It is good to leave a project for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.

I find now that I like the stylized lines of the neck. However, I do see areas on it that can use a little touching up, it is still a little too thick. I will also undercut the eyes a little more, which should help them to stand out more clearly.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

The branch is gone and the moose has been further refined, especially the back of the moose, the face and antlers. The neck lines have been deepened and rounded but are still a little too stylized and will need to be de-emphasized. Other than that and some touch ups throughout, it is almost finished.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

This phase has seen some shaping on the neck, legs, and the beginning of work on the face and antlers.

I am not sure whether to keep the branch, crossing in front of the moose, as is, or to let it recede into the background as originally planned. I think it flattens the body in its current position and to create enough separation between branch and body would mean the removal of too much material from the moose. I have been playing with the computer image, erasing the branch as it crosses the body, and think that its removal tends to enhance and emphasize the moose, pushing it forward and lending it mass.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

This phase began by sketching out the divisions between the planes, esssential to the creation of a 3 dimensional effect, including decisions about foreground and background placement.

I decided to push the rear of the moose behind the border of the antler and allow a part of the flank to show on the outside and behind the border. The lower branch was allowed to cross in front of the moose in order to give the impression that the moose is calling from within the woods. By pushing the rear legs to the back layer of antler and distinguishing the neck from the body, the multilayered effect is enhanced.

Moving back to the scroll saw, the borders were thinned and shaped, increasing the negative space. Then work was begun on the body of the moose to round and position the back and legs.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1  (carved moose antler)

The moose antler has been completely skinned with the Foredom grinder and a rounded single fluted cone bit. This is without doubt my favourite bit for most tasks except detailing and outlining. The skinning process removes the rough exterior, exposing an ivory coloured underlayer with accents of purple.

I also cleaned and finshed the base, where the antler joins the head. It is a very pretty area that, used on its own, can be made into a handsome belt buckle, if you're into that sort of thing.

After removing the rough exterior, the design was finalized in pencil on the antler itself. This will be modified as I go along but not changed significantly.

Next, the negative spaces were removed with a 16" scroll saw. In order to provide an opportunity for the saw, without entering the antler from the outside, I drilled several holes along the edges of the negative spaces. The scoll saw blade is then inserted through the holes and the cutting can commence. Antler is hard on scroll saw blades and I broke several during this process. Whole antler has an internal tension which is released when cuts are made, binding and breaking the blades. If you try this at home, keep plenty of spares on hand!

I was surprised to discover that the softer inner section of this antler is a keen florescent green. Shades of green are relatively common on older antlers, but this particular shade I've seen only once before, on my first carving. It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on the final product!

I have just begun the process of finding the planes and deliniating them with a straight bit and the SMC Micro-Motor Tool. This will take a while, and is a somewhat like sketching in a little detail before blocking in the colours of a painting. The "blocking" will come next and involves the removal of large masses of material, in order to create a rough 3D effect.
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'Tribute to Michio' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Tribute to Michio by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This commission is to include a moose in the design. After perusing countless photos, the commissioners settled upon a moose image from Michio Hoshino's book, "Moose".

In my opinion, they couldn't have made a better choice. Michio was a great wildlife photographer, popular in Japan and North America, whose life was cut short after being attacked by a bear in Alaska.

I hope this work does credit to Michio's photograpy and spirit of adventure.

In designing this piece, the goal was to reflect the physical size and presence of the moose. I photocopied the image from the book in different sizes and then cut out the moose as silhouettes to try out on the antler.

It took a couple of days to determine the composition. I decided to extend the legs, rather than have the moose appear to be wading through tall shrubs, and then added a tree on the right side for balance. I also decided to use the largest silhouette possible and to reduce the sides of the carved antler in order to allow the moose antlers to project outside of the finished piece. Finally, I added three bare branches, in such a way as to assist the eye in its travels over the carving.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead, 1998 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The eagle is mounted on an angle suspended above and away from the mount, providing the illusion that the eagle is soaring past and not fixed in place.

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

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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 5 (carved moose antler)

I have refined the feather structure and cleaned up the lines. Then I polished the entire surface and prepared the mounting plaque.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 4 (carved moose antler)

The eagle is now finished the roughing out process. Over the next day or so, I'll refine the lines, then sand and polish.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 3 (carved moose antler)

In this phase, I have completed the roughing out of the left wing. To my delight, some of the colour on the left wing has survived the carving process so far and promises to add a little interest to the finished piece. Next, I'll begin at the head and move down the back to the tail.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 2 (carved moose antler)

As always, it's fascinating to break new ground. For me, the feather structure of the eagle is new. Especially the upper structure of the feathers on outstreatched wings. In all the reference materials I have collected over the years, there is not one picture of an eagle taken from above! The drawing I generated for this carving was extrapollated from several side shots of eagles in flight with wings down.

In this phase, one wing has been roughed out using straight, or cylindrical, bits. I have attempted to show some irregularity in the feathers - much as a real eagle would look. Most of the painted or carved eagles that I have seen to date are all "perfect". I feel that spoils the naturally wild and powerful feel of the eagle.

The natural curve of the antler has allowed me to curve the tips of the feathers upwards as if the eagle's wings had just reached their zenith and were on their way back down.

Unfortunately, I lost most of the colour on the right wing. I guess some things are only skin deep!

The left side is sketched in and ready to be carved next.
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1 (carved moose antler)

The eagle has been traced and cut out of the moose antler.

The eagle was sketched and photocopied, then the photocopy was cut to form the pattern. I smoothed the surface area of the moose antler to be cut with the Foredom grinder prior to tracing. The eagle was cut from the antler using a 16" band saw. (The quality of the blade makes a huge difference when using a band saw. The higher quality blades cut more easily and can take more twisting and turning.)

Note the wonderful colouration of the antler under the outer layer of bark!
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'Eagle on Arrowhead' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Eagle on Arrowhead by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This is a commissioned a piece, which combines an eagle with an arrowhead. I have designed the piece so that the eagle is in full flight above the arrowhead. The eagle will be carved from moose antler and the arrowhead will be a shaped oak base.
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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.
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'Rest and Sing' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing, 1997 by Shane Wilson (carved moose antler)

The final work on "Rest and Sing" was done with Dremel sanding disks and polishing felts. It was a time consuming process with such tiny tools. I've purchased a larger polishing wheel and felt for next time.

I will begin work soon on the next commission, an absract design on a found moose skull.

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

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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 7 (carved moose antler)

I have finshed the ravens to the pre-sanding, pre-polished state using the same tools as described for the wolves in the last phase.

Now to the task of making the support for the work and the final sanding and finishing...

The commissioner of the work has suggested the name, "Rest and Sing", which I think is quite appropriate.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 6 (carved moose antler)

I have chosen to treat the surface of the wolves with a stylized design. My intention is to create the effect of a deep winter coat of hair.

Again, my tool of choice is the SMC Moto Tool with a 1/8" straight bit, because of its flexibility. However, I also use a flexible shaft Dremel, with a sanding drum of medium grade, in order to do the preliminary smoothing and unifying of the surface. For refinements to the outlines of the wolves, I use the Foredom with a 1/4" straight bit.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose antler)

The ravens and wolves are shaped and contoured to their finished size. The details will be added now with the smaller bits and a micro-motor tool made by SCM. It's a wonderful little tool that allows great flexibility of movement, so important for the finer details.
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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose antler)

I am starting to use finer burrs now for the refining work. This is the part that takes all the time, but it is the most fun as the animals "come alive."
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose antler)

Things are starting to take shape!

The figures are becoming more and more defined and are beginning to take on a three dimensional quality. Now for the time consuming detailed shaping and defining work.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose antler)

The carving is coming along nicely. The basic planes and shapes are defined and the antler is "skinned". This is the process whereby the top, rough layer of antler is removed, revealing the open canvas and beautiful colour underneath. In this case, various shades of purple.

The next stage will involve rounding out the various shapes of the animals, trees and rocks.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose antler)

This phase represents 5 hours of actual carving and several times that in planning.

I substituted the flying raven with a second raven perched on another branch. It seems to make the composition flow a little better.

I have also added a third wolf, lying down and also howling. I had planned for this wolf to be in front of the left edge, which will become a tree trunk, but I think this will make the composition a little choppy and so will change this to a design where all three wolves will be situated behind the left edge.

Tools thus far have included a drill to make the pilot holes for my Delta 16" Scroll Saw to do the interior cutting and a large, straight, single fluted burr on a Foredom H Series power tool to do the preliminary rough shaping.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Rest and Sing' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Rest and Sing by Shane Wilson, in progress, begin (carved moose antler)

This commission will have wolves and ravens as its subject matter. It will be carved into a full antler, retaining the look of the antler in the finished work.

After several preliminary sketches, involving some field work, I have created a design and selected an antler which is suited. The design included a combination of howling wolves and roosting ravens.

The lower portion of the antler extends out from the palm at a right angle, perfect for the creation of a free standing carving. I'll need to add a small piece of antler at the back for stability.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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