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

LINKS: Dall on the Rocks - Complete Work in Progress Video , Gallery Images

Here is the finished sculpture, 'Dall on the Rocks, 2011' on its walnut base.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I frequently spot all the little errors when the work has a little time to breathe.

This is the result after a few days of refining, re-sanding and re-polishing. It is time to move on to the base making and final photography stages ...

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The sculpture has been cleaned up, using small dental burrs to remove small bits of material to improve the flow of lines and shapes.

Following this, the whole sculpture was sanded with a fine burr mounted sandpaper cone, then polished with Tripoli on a cloth wheel.

The sculpture was removed from the mandrel/clamp (which you can see in the last image) and then placed on the walnut base.

The outline of the base was traced onto the wood, following the contours of the sculpture's footprint.

Next the base will be cut, sanded and a router with a cove burr will be used to finish the top edge.

Then it's off to the photographer for the portfolio shot. Almost there ...!

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

I have refined the Dall sheep. Now a little cleaning up around the sculpture, then more sanding and finally polishing and the carving is done.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough out the basic shape of the Dall sheep after completing the roughing out of the rocks, both directly below the sheep and also part way down the hill.

You can see from this 3/4 shot that the ivory is highly curved and the perception of the sheep changes as you move around the curve.

In this last shot, you can gain a sense of the scale of this piece. It is really very small.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The snow drifts and a portion of the rocks have been roughed out in this phase.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have decided on the carved design, outlined it on the ivory in brown pencil crayon. The idea is to portray the Dall sheep standing upon a rocky outcrop that has been swept clear of snow.

Drifting snow is in evidence below. The rear of the sheep has been redesigned to appear in profile or slightly turned away from the viewer.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the mammoth tusk has been reduced to the outline of the dall sheep and the rock below.

I tried to preserve the ivory behind and above the sheep, but it was too thin and unstable, and distracted from the main focus of the sculpture.

The sculpture has been removed from the original backing board and re-glued in an upright position to a fresh piece of wood that has been trimmed to fit the sculpture but leave the carving surfaces exposed.

Note that a second piece of wood has been glued both to the base and to the back of the head and free horn. This is to absorb the vibration which will occur during carving and prevent cracking.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The mammoth tusk has been ground down to expose the solid ivory. Unfortunately, the blue mineralization resided only on the surface and so was lost when the flaky outer surface was removed.

The dall sheep template has been cut out from a printed image, placed on the surface of the tusk and outlined into the ivory with a ball shaped burr.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to keep the dall ram, of course, with some of the rocks upon which it stands. I'll decide on additional background detail after roughing out the carved areas defined by the paper template.

The image below is the final Photoshop compilation before committing to the ivory shard of mammoth tusk.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

After printing out the image of the dall sheep, I outlined the major planes with a marker then rephotographed. After opening up the image in Photoshop again, I lightened the background to emphasize the outlines.

Next, I'll decide what to keep and what to cut, again, using photoshop, then print out this image, cut out the areas I don't want and apply what's left to the piece of mammoth ivory.

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The polyurethane glue set up nicely between board and mammoth ivory.

The next step involved drilling pilot holes into the board from the back, using the carver's vise mandrel as a template. The board is then attached to the mandrel with countersink type screws. Finally, the mandrel is fitted back into the vise and adjusted to suit.

(front view of ivory glued to the board, with the polyurethane glue and clamp in the background)

(view from the top, showing ivory, board, mandrel and vice)

(view of the back of the carver's vice, showing the mandrel attached to the wood backing)

Let the carving begin!

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

This is the basic concept of the carving, the Dall sheep will be situated on and before rocky crags. The image has been compiled with layers in Photoshop.

Designing with Photoshop allows for a faster switching out of images and the instant ability to play with sizing and composition. Another nice feature of Photoshop is the ability to remove material from the background to see how the negative spaces will interact with the subjects. (Not needed in this case.)

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'Dall on the Rocks' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Prior to beginning the work of carving, I have prepared the mammoth ivory by levelling its base with band saw and belt sander and smoothed out a little of the back edge, also with the belt sander.

Since I'll be using a carving vise for this project, created specifically for the purpose by Lee Valley's Veritas, the ivory is then affixed along its back edge to a piece of wood (clamped using glue which can easily be removed later in the process) which is, in turn, screwed on to the head of the vise.

I chose to use a longer board to give my hands and arms a bracing point while carving.

Carving vise by Veritas with an attachment adaption for the Veritas Carvers Bench.

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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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