'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' (Stand design) by Shane Wilson

The double antler set will sit on an independent, low-profile acrylic base. Tom McGraw is working with the natural balance points of each antler, to design a stand with the minimum amount of contact points.

Less is more.


Tom McGraw, Industrial Plastics and Paint, designs stand for 'Ahead of the Curves' by Shane Wilson
Tom McGraw fits a cardboard mock-up stand for the moose antler sculpture ‘Ahead of the Curve’ by Shane Wilson

Tom McGraw, Industrial Plastics and Paint, designs stand for 'Ahead of the Curves' (rear) by Shane Wilson
Tom McGraw of Industrial Plastics and Paint, Nanaimo, B.C.

When the sculpture nears completion, I’ll bring it back for a more precise fitting on a wood mock-up which Tom will construct from these measurments, prior to the fabrication of the finished clear acrylic stand.


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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 58) by Shane Wilson

The sculpture has been meticulously sanded, front and back, leaving some of the original coloration on the reverse.

The entire surface has been treated with a clear satin finish to add a protective coating, without altering the appearance of the antler.

And my signature has been carved into the back of the right antler.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - signature on back of right antler, close up

Time now for the sculpture to be photographed and on the way to its new home!


'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - signature on back of right antler

Time now, also, for my sentinel silent, short-eared carving companion (background, above image) to return to the Royal British Columbia Museum, from whence it was borrowed some several years ago, with my gratitude! :)


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 57- Acrylic Stand) by Shane Wilson

The following images document the fabrication and fitting of the acrylic stand by Tom McGraw of Industrial Plastics and Paint, Nanaimo, B.C.

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - on acrylic stand
‘Short Eared Parliament’ by Shane Wilson on the acrylic stand

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - on acrylic stand, reverse
‘Short Eared Parliament’ by Shane Wilson on the acrylic stand (rubber non-stick matting used for scratch protection during fitting trial only)

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - acrylic stand
Acrylic stand fabricated by Tom McGraw of Industrial Plastics and Paint for ‘Short Eared Parliament’ by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - plywood mock-up of acrylic stand, reverse
Mock-up for acrylic stand fabricated by Tom McGraw for ‘Short Eared Parliament’ by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson - Tom McCaw makes plywood mock-up of acrylic stand
Tom McGraw fits ‘Short Eared Parliament’ by Shane Wilson to a plywood mock-up, prior to fabrication of acrylic stand

Tom McCaw, Industrial Plastics and Paint, makes plywood mock-up of acrylic stand for 'Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson
Tom McGraw measures notches in plywood mock-up stand to receive’ Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56) by Shane Wilson

I made the final short eared owl into an iconic owl bust - like a grand Roman emperor rendered in marble. He ties the principal content of two antlers together without distracting from them.

The carving portion is finished. Sanding and a few touch ups remain, then a protective coat and it's off to the stand maker and photographer.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56c - owl bust on moose skull complete) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56b - refining owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56c - roughing out owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56d - begin roughing out owl bust) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 56e - design of owl bust, in progress) by Shane Wilson
‘Short Eared Parliament' (carved moose antler sculpture) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 55) by Shane Wilson

I have finished the garter snake and cleaned up the entire right antler.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 55 - right antler complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (right antler) by Shane Wilson

The garter snake’s head extends out from the border, an effect achieved by the use of a small tine, otherwise carved away.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 55 - garter snake complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (garter snake) by Shane Wilson

After playing with a number of different textures and approaches to the surface of the snake (scales, stripes, varying combinations) I decided to leave it clean. Less is more.

In order to give the snake’s body life, it has been carved (mostly) in the round as it moves on, over, under and through the border strip and grassy elements.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 55 - lower right antler complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (lower right antler) by Shane Wilson

Time now to move to the centre of the sculpture and create the final, signature element: a short eared owl head rendered abstractly on the moose skull.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 55) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 54) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 54 - vole complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (lower right antler, grasses complete - from front) by Shane Wilson

Voles are the ‘grass-fed beef’ of marsh and meadow, preyed on by a bevy of carnivorous creatures, including the Short Eared Owl.

Voles, unlike mice, have small eyes and ears, since grasses and leaves are not hard to find. Which makes them easy prey. Their predation coping strategy: breed, breed, breed.

A female vole births 8 litters per year, 6 babies per litter. If 50% of each litter is female, she produces 24 offspring capable of having litters of their own, and a female vole is ready to breed at 1 month. Based on 100% survival, each female vole has the exponential potential to produce more meat than muscle mass on a bull elephant!

Such is my little female vole, carved within the grassy vortex. As always, the challenge has been to bring her to life within the narrow depth of antler.

Due to the odd, outward sweeping angle of the antler shovel, I have attempted to create a believable relief effect from the front and side of the sculpture, from a 3/4 angle above the vole.


'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson<br />**********
'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson

Another fun fact - muskrats are large voles adapted to life in water!

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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53d - vole complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (vole completed) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53c - vole, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (shaping head of vole) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53b - vole, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (begin roughing out vole) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53a - vole, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (outlining vole) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53 - grass, close) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (lower right antler, grasses complete - from front) by Shane Wilson

It took a while to figure out how best to represent the grasses, providing detail that seemed grass-like and also tied into other portions of the sculpture: the large spiral swaths pick up something of the movement of the trees on the left antler; the choppy pattern of some of the grasses have a similar rhythm to that of the bark on those trees; the ‘tufty’ leaves echo the tufty feathers of the baby owl; the flow or direction of the grasses and leaves pulls the eye into the sculpture and directs it to the owls, left and above; the 6 larger leaves on the centre grass element subtly echo the 6 eggs; and the overall busy-ness of the pattern provides a strong grounding for the right antler, enhancing the flying effect of the owls. 

Now on to the snake and vole.
 

'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson

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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53 - grass complete) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (lower right antler, grasses complete - above) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53d - grass, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (6 leaf pattern on right antler will echo 6 eggs on left antler) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53c - grass, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (grasses in progress) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53b - grass, in progress) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (begin roughing in grasses) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 53a - lower right antler) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (refining lines of the snake and grass elements, beginning design of the grasses) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 52) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 52 - sanding back of antler) by Shane Wilson
Short Eared Parliament' (back of the left moose antler) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have sanded the upper left antler: front, edges and back. The image above shows how I will leave the original antler surface on the majority of the back antler - sanded gently to remove sharper portions and expose some of the white to transition nicely with the tines and front of the sculpture.


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 51) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 51 - lower left antler, owl on nest) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (close view of lower left antler, owl and nest complete) by Shane Wilson

The nest at the base of the left antler has been completed in this phase.

The short eared owl makes its nest on the ground using a loose assemblage of grass or twigs which form a kind of crib and seems to do little besides preventing the eggs from rolling away.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 51 - lower left antler, nest from left) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (close view of nest from left) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 51 - lower left antler, nest from right) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (close view of nest from right) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50 - upper half, right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (close view of upper right antler, three flying short eared owls finished) by Shane Wilson

The head, shoulders and back wing of the large flying Short Eared Owl were carved in this phase.

This completes the last of the seven whole Short Eared Owl to be carved on this moose antler sculpture! Remaining are the vole, garter snake, some grass and twigs and a Short Eared Owl face, to be carved on the skull.

The end of the tunnel is in sight.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50 - right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson

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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50c - head and back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - face and back finished) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50b - head and back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - major planes on head roughed in, feathers on neck and shoulders blocked out, back wing refined) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 50a - head and back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - design of the head added, some refining of back wing) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49 - upper half, right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (close view of upper right antler, large short eared owl in progress) by Shane Wilson

In order to bring some unity to the large flying owl and give it life, I have been wrestling with feather patterns on the wings and back.

In this phase, some of the detail on both wings has been softened and stylized. The feathers on the back and neck have been added, then some were removed and the remainder clarified.

In the next phase, I’ll need to spend more time on the rear wing, further softening the pattern and then adding some detail back in, while deciding how much feather detail to add to the far side of the owl’s back and neck.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49 - right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (right antler, in progress) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49f - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feathers on owl’s far back completely removed, area reshaped, close back further refined. Forward wing detail cleaned up, additional rear wing detail removed) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49e - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feathers on owl’s far back and neck removed, area shaped, close back refined. Forward wing stylized, rear wing detail removed) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49d - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feathers on owl’s back roughed in and some forward wing detail removed) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49c - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feather on owl’s back continue to be roughed in and refined) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49b - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - beginning to rough out feathers on owl’s back) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49a - back detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feathers on owl’s back sketched onto antler in coloured pencil) by Shane Wilson


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 49 - feather pattern) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - feather distribution on owl’s back determined) by Shane Wilson






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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48d - large owl - back wing and tail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - back wing and tail complete) by Shane Wilson

The tail and back wing of the large flying owl are now complete.

Since my intention is to create the impression that the back wing recedes into the sculpture away from the viewer, the definition of the carved elements along this wing are less emphasized (less sharp) than the elements in the forward wing. It is a fine line, because it is necessary to retain enough punch in these elements to register the design as a wing.

While I think I have struck an appropriate balance, it should become clear if modifications to further lessen the emphasis on the back wing will be necessary as the body and head are completed in the coming weeks.


'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48d - full antler) by Shane Wilson

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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48c - back wing and tail - detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - back wing and tail complete - detail) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48b - back wing sketched and tail roughed in - detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - back wing sketched and tail roughed in - detail) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 48a - back wing, contour roughed in and tail sketched - detail) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - back wing contour roughed in and tail sketched - detail) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47d - large owl - wing) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - wing) by Shane Wilson


I learned something about flight and the wing during the carving of this large wing on the nearest flying short eared owl.

The wing is an arm with two fingers. The large primary feathers attach to the larger of the two fingers while the secondary feathers attach to the forearm.

But the most extraordinary thing I learned was that the short eared owl’s wing is duplicated, that it has a miniature second wing called the alula, attached to the second finger, which is used with great precision like a spoiler in low speed flight to add lift and control.

All birds have the alula, but the short eared owl seems particularly gifted at its use.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47d - full antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47 - right antler) by Shane Wilson

While roughing out the marginal wing coverts, it occurred to me that the covert feathers seemed to resemble scales. I wondered if there was a connection and was pleased to discover that, indeed, feathers are thought to have evolved from scales. How marvellous!

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47d - right antler, low angle) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47 - right antler, low angle) by Shane Wilson

Of all carvings in antler, the vast majority feature birds. And of those birds, the vast majority are eagles carved with wings extended in flight. (This is perhaps due to the natural large eagle-wing shape of the antler in proportion to the eagle-head sized antler base and coronet.)

It follows that feathers are the most commonly carved objects in antler. Usually they are represented in minute detail with every barb meticulously carved. Though a legitimate approach - this level of detail in antler may create a literal version of the bird’s anatomy - the sense of the whole, living bird (the proverbial forest) tends to get lost in the treatment of the individual feathers (the proverbial trees).


As one possible solution to this problem, I have carved variously angled, contoured planes on the surface of each grouping of feathers to indicate dimension and life. The flow of light and shadow over these surfaces creates the effect of feathers as they might appear in flight on a living bird.

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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47c - large owl - wing) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - marginal wing coverts roughed out) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47b - large owl - wing) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - primary and secondary feathers and coverts roughed out, beginning on alula feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 47a - large owl - wing) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (large flying short eared owl - wing outline trimmed and feather pattern outlined) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46a - lower flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - final detail) by Shane Wilson

When I embarked on the bird watching component of this project, unsuccessfully as it happened, I met one of Nanaimo's more notable bird watchers and bloggers, who went by the moniker Brit Birder in BC. Asking him about the short eared owl, he recalled a rather grizzly tale involving the mobbing of the only short eared owl he had seen so far that year.
The account appeared in his blog:

"I noticed something of a commotion going on some distance away, involving around 40-50 ravens. They were all flying around, quite high and seemingly excited by something. Getting my bins on them, I noticed a short-eared owl amongst the melee. The ravens were relentlessly mobbing the owl, which was flying around in small circles, in a panicked state. Convinced that the shortie would soon break away and head for cover, I kept watching, fascinated. Suddenly a sub-adult bald eagle flew through the flock and grabbed the owl in its talons. It flew up, mangling the owl in the progress, and then spiralled downward, eventually releasing its limp victim, which fell toward the ground pursued by a mob of murderous ravens. Very curious behaviour, and not a little depressing! I've seen owls mobbed by all manner of things in the past, but this is without doubt the first time I've seen such a brutal, and terminal, finale."

Clearly the short eared owl is not an apex predator, sitting proudly atop the estuary or meadow food chain. Loss of nesting habitat from development also poses a threat for the short eared owl.

This little fellow's backward glance hints at the vulnerable aspects of the short eared owl's life.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46 - right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46 - right antler) by Shane Wilson

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In this phase, the principle challenge was to create a believable head with a sense of volume and direction. The curve of the antler moves away from the viewer and thins considerably making this extremely difficult, especially given the much larger thickness available for the back and tail feathers.

'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - final detail from side) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - final detail from side) by Shane Wilson

The fact that the head is rotated backwards on less than a 3/4 viewing angle was also a cause for concern when 'reading' the carving. A literal rendering of the reference image left the impression of a head deformed. To remedy this, I rotated the head back slightly toward the viewer, hinting subtly at the backward orientation by pushing the carving of the left side of the head (from the viewer's perspective) almost to the back of the antler, and reduced the head's diameter on that side slightly, drawing the eye back toward the beak. (For other facial 3/4 relief carving treatments check out this Q+A on antlercarver.com.)

The final challenge was to carve the eyes in such a way that they gave the correct impression in relief of a binocular backward glance. To accomplish this, both eyes are slightly indented on the left side.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46c - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - head roughed out, with slight rotation back toward the viewer) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46d - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - head provisionally roughed out) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46e - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - wing and tail complete, back feathers roughed out) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46f - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - major planes blocked out, primary wing feathers roughed) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 46g - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (lower flying short eared owl - major planes laid out in pencil crayon) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45) by Shane Wilson

When these owls fly for the purpose of finding a meal, they give the impression of incredible lightness and agility, their impossibly long wings more butterfly-like than bird. They dip, twist, and skim low over grass and short brush before popping up, then dropping down on an unsuspecting vole or snake.

Short eared owls are diurnal, hunting in the morning and evening when the low sun casts their shadows away from the ground beneath their flight, disguising their presence while exaggerating the forms of the creatures they hunt. Brilliant birds.

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Despite many hours of bird watching at the Nanaimo River Estuary Reserve, where short eared owls spend their winters, I never spotted a short eared owl.

On the day before I began carving this flying owl, on my daily walk through a light industrial area far from the owl's reputed wetland home, I spotted strange movement over a back-filled gravel and scrub lot. I knew right away that it was a short eared owl. It is said that chance favours the prepared mind, but wow, what a gift! I stood spellbound for an hour while the owl hunted and rested, hunted and rested, unconcerned by my presence.

This is that owl.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45 - upper flying owl - close) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper flying short eared owl, close) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45 - right antler) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45 - right antler) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45d - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper flying short eared owl - final detail) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45c - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper flying short eared owl - body, wings and tail feathers refined, face blocked out) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45b - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper flying short eared owl - body, wings and tail feathers roughed out) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 45a - upper flying owl) by Shane Wilson
'Short Eared Parliament' (upper flying short eared owl - major planes blocked out) by Shane Wilson


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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' (Work in Progress/Installation Video - YouTube) 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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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 43) by Shane Wilson

The nesting owl is complete, save some sanding and polishing, which I'll save until the remainder of the sculpture is carved, in order to achieve a uniform finish.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase43 -nesting owl complete) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase43 - left antler, close) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase43 -left antler) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 42) by Shane Wilson

The nesting owl is now almost complete, after a few weeks of working on the feathers. The progress images go from latest to earliest stages as you scroll down.

The challenge as always in antler, is to create a relief effect that brings the creature to life, is true to its basic structure and makes room for some artistic interpretation.

All that remain are the breast feathers and 'pants' of this little owl.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42f -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42e -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42d -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42c -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42b -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase42a -nesting owl feathers) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 41) by Shane Wilson

The nesting owl's facial disk is now complete. The following images show the progression from most recent to earliest incarnation, as the face evolved into the antler.

I have chosen to highlight the 'short ears', prominent feathers around eyes, beak, and jaw and downplay the feathers around the facial disk and ears.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase41e -nesting owl face) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase41d -nesting owl face) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase41c -nesting owl face) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase41b -nesting owl face) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase41a -nesting owl face) 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 39) by Shane Wilson

Here are the first tentative steps to blocking out the major planes on the next short eared owl, in a mantling position over its nest.

I thought this one would be relatively easy after the baby owl, but sadly this was not to be. There is a whole bunch going on with these feathers, each one controlled by the owl with separate muscles.

While at first glance the feathers seem relatively smooth, the relief-carved realization of the feathers in antler is turning out to be quite another matter! I am feeling my way here, trying to establish the illusion of the owl in the round.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase39d-nesting owl) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase39c-nesting owl) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase39b-nesting owl) by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase39a-nesting owl) by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 40) by Shane Wilson

This mantling short eared owl reminds me of one of those military jets, usually photographed on an aircraft carrier, bristling with weapons and every flap and wing bit raised and extended.

I have spent considerable hours staring at the photo of this owl, waiting for the feather pattern to pop, kind of like the effect one hopes to achieve when staring in a slightly out of focus way at those colourful patterns that resolve almost by magic into a 3-D scene.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase40-nesting owl) by Shane Wilson

The mottled patterning of the short eared owl feathers, combined with its fluffy (messy) auxiliary feathers that poke through in random fashion, make reading the owl's overall design and rendering it into a carve-able design difficult.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase39a-left antler with nesting owl and sketch) by Shane Wilson

I have used several additional resources to assist, the most helpful being a stuffed owl, borrowed from the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and Floyd Scholz brilliant reference book, appropriately entitled Owls.

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase40-designing nesting owl) 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 - 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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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 34) by Shane Wilson

The short eared owl chick represented in this phase is a complex array of wind-blown downy feathers.

I love the 'messiness' of this part of the overall composition, but it is taking a while to figure out how best to represent this little fellow in carved relief.

I am still figuring ...

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase33c-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase33b-owl chick), by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase33a-owl chick), by Shane Wilson


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'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

A band saw is a wonderful thing, especially a good one that is able to hold a straight line. However, it is limited in application to the outer edges of the carving.

In this phase, I have also coloured the negative spaces in orange prior to drilling pilot holes and rough cutting them out with a sabre saw/jig saw.

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 3 - Left Antler) by Shane Wilson

'Candle Ice Two' (Phase 3 - Right Antler) by Shane Wilson

band-saw
(Steel City 14" Band Saw with 3/8" blade)


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 33) by Shane Wilson

The main shaping and detail work are finished on the large roosting short-eared owl.

Note the striking colour pattern revealed within the antler. It is caused by blood flow into the antler during its formation and will fade over time. This darker colouration may help visually to 'push' the large owl back behind the baby owl, if highlights of white antler in the edges of the baby owl can be preserved.

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase33-roosting owl, by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase33-roosting owl, detail, by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase33-full antler, by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 32) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I refined the breast feathers and began to denote and rough in the wing feathers on the large roosting short-eared owl. I noticed that the wing appeared too narrow when viewed on the antler, which bends toward the viewer creating a false fore-shortening. To compensate, the wing has been widened slightly.

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase32b, by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase32a, by Shane Wilson


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'Short Eared Parliament' (Phase 31) by Shane Wilson

The face has been further refined. It is a challenge to determine how best to represent both the feathers and the almost sculptural, coloured pattern on the feathers. I am not there yet.

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase31b, by Shane Wilson

'Short Eared Parliament' Phase31a, by Shane Wilson


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wolf 2 completely carved.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wolf 3 completely carved.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wolf 4 completely carved.

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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'Big Horns Ram, 2010' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved big horn sheep horn on granite base)

LINKS: Big Horns Ram - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Big Horns Ram, 2010' by Shane Wilson

'Big Horns Ram - Shatter, 2010' by Shane Wilson

'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
(big horn sheep horn carving granite base, big horn sheep horn granite base sculpture)


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'Big Horns Ram' (Photography) by Shane Wilson

A few shots from the photography session with Wildman Photography...

If you are an artist, it pays to always, always, always have your work photographed by a professional. Always!


Gary Wildman, Photographer and Dan, Photography Assistant
Gary Wildman with his assistant and computer guru, Dan.

Gary and Dan set up the shoot of 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
Gary and Dan set up the shot for 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson

Dan and Gary check the results from the shoot of 'Big Horns Ram - Melt, 2010' by Shane Wilson
Dan and Gary check out the photos on the computer for exposure and detail


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 44) by Shane Wilson

The horns and bases are brought together for the first time. A few more coats of the satin lacquer are still needed.

There is quite a contrast between these pics and the initial shots of the horns, prior to carving!


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 44c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Granite Bases) by Shane Wilson

In order to choose the best colour for the granite base, I visited a granite kitchen countertop business here in Nanaimo, called PIGranite. They had hundreds of different slabs to choose from, so I brought the horns to the shop and tried them all on.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43a
The colour that works the best for this colour of horn is called Blue Pearl. The stone is mostly blue with black flecks, but, and this is difficult to see in these images, there is an interference colour which appears peachy, pearlescent and matches the horns perfectly, while the blue provides a nice contrast.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43b
As you can see, the magnets were bolted to the stone, which was custom cut, drilled and polished, and high density foam castors were added, to protect the surface upon which the sculptures are to be displayed, and to provide visual elevation from that surface.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 43c
The bolt and washer assembly are secured with more Sumo Glue (which expands to fill the gap between the drilled hole and the bolt) and Super Glue to secure the nuts. The magnets sit on top of the granite surface to keep the effect clean and to elevate the horn away from the base.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 42) by Shane Wilson

The washers are glued, then the overage was removed, cleaned up with the use of a few passes with a 1/8" straight burr.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42a
In order to spray the horns with the lacquer, I attached two magnets to a scrap piece of 1"x6", then affixed the horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42b
Lacquer goes on thin, so several passes were necessary.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 42c
I have tried a variety of finish glosses, but prefer satin applied over a gloss undercoat.

Lacquer finishes used in horn carving


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 41) by Shane Wilson

Time to begin the process of mounting the horns onto the granite bases. After considering a number of different mounting scenarios, I decided that the rare earth magnet assembly, sold by Lee Valley Tools, offered the most elegant solution.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 41a
There are two parts to the magnet assembly: the magnet and a thick steel washer. The magnet will be bolted through a pre-drilled hole in the granite and the washer will be attached to the bottom of the horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 41b
I try to avoid mounting solutions that involve drilling and screwing parts to the sculpture itself, since these so often fail over time and end up cracking the horn or antler. So I am using Sumo Glue by Locktite as the only means for attaching the washer. If the glue bond fails, then the washer can simply be reattached using a similar glue product, but the sculpture will remain unharmed.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 40) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have cleaned up some of the lines around the design elements and have further refined the big horn ram's head, adding detail to the horns and roughing out the area around the visible eye.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 40


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 39) by Shane Wilson

After publishing the update from the last phase to Facebook, I received feedback indicating that the shards might be a little distracting, with a suggestion that they be pushed off the horizontal to avoid the appearance that they are 'at rest'.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39a
I have tried to incorporate this suggestion, changing the shape of two of the shards while adding the detail from the shattered 'path'.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39b
The majority of the horn is now completely carved. All that remains is the final detailing on the big horn ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 39c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 38) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the negative space along the back of the horn has been carved away.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 38a
In the image below, you can see the negative spaces created in both horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 38b
Note: The sculptures are meant to be viewed from a front-on position, so that these negative spaces create the illusion of the shapes of the big horn sheep as they rear into their ramming of their respective paths, while at the same time showing the continuity of the paths themselves into the sheep.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 37) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough out the inner portion of the family/cultural history path's curved lines.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 37c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 36) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the borders of the family/cultural history path have been roughed out.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36a
Next I'll design the inner portion of the path with curved lines, curved against the curve of the horn itself to provide contrast and interest within the sculpture.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 36c


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 35) by Shane Wilson

Finished, almost.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35a
The carving is complete, including the signature on the reverse.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35b
I have included a close up shot and one from the extreme right side (below), so that you can see how the effect was achieved in relief.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 35c
Remaining to be done: mounting on a pearl blue granite base and finishing with an acrylic spray. But first it is time to return to the partner horn and finish it to the same point.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 34) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the negative space under the ram has been carved away, leaving the ram's rearing, abstract, silhouette.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 34a
The face and horns are marked for the final detail carving.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 34b
The horn is marked in a slightly stylized fashion to reflect the path detail.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 33) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to cut out a section of the back of the horn to give more of a stylized profile of the ram as it descends from its upright reared position into its collision with the path.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 33a
The shape of the negative space will mirror the curve of the horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 33b
The tedious work of finishing the fine detail, strand by strand of horn fibre, is also in progress in this phase with the upper half of the horn completed.


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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 32) by Shane Wilson

The full path is roughed in, now to clean up the design and put the final touches on the melted portions. I'll save the final detailing of the ram's head for last.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 32a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 32b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 31) by Shane Wilson

The first four are done, now for the two larger ones ...

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 31a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 31b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 30) by Shane Wilson

Continuing to work the path ...

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 30a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 30b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 29) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to add the raised border detail to the 'history' path.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 29
This will involve lowering the background plane on the rest of the horn.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 28) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have further shaped and refined the ram's head. The pathway of the past has been roughed in and more of the horn in behind the design elements of the melting path has been removed.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28a
The inside of the horn has been cleaned up, with the top layer removed. In order to reach into the horn to address some of the carving beyond normal burr and hand piece range, I used a carbide, rounded over straight burr on an extended 1/4" shaft.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28b
The extension adds an additional 4" of reach, but extra care is needed when using this burr with powerful high speed grinders like the Flexible Shaft Foredom. Any play in the shaft is exaggerated at 4" and the precision of the grinding is reduced considerably. For rough work, though, the extension works well.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 28c
Another consideration, especially with horn, is the tendency of the burr to get caught on the grain of the horn and cut wildly. To avoid this, a careful, brushing stroke works best. Avoid applying pressure to the burr.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 27) by Shane Wilson

The head has been further roughed out to create a 3-D impression. It remains to add the finer details.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 27a
The background has been refined around the head and the band roughed in to gauge the effectiveness of this element in the design.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 27b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 26) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to pass the strip pattern by the portion of the design on the horns immediately behind the rear horn of both rams.
Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 26
This will help fill the gap in the pattern on the 'melted' horn caused by the removal of one of the tabs of horn to allow for carving the head in greater relief.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 25) by Shane Wilson

The background has been reduced along the entire horn, lessening the impact of the background and allowing for more emphasis to be worked into the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25a
The overall effect is somewhat confusing visually, so I'll need to give the background design more thought before proceeding.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25c
I'll focus on the ram's head first. Doing so may help a complementary background design to come more properly into focus.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 25b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 24) by Shane Wilson

There is a difficult decision to be made at this point in this carving. The detail of the melting background immediately behind the rear horn of the ram's head will need to be eliminated in order to allow a higher relief to be achieved in the rams head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 24
The entire subsurface arcing behind the head will also need to be reduced considerably.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 23) by Shane Wilson

I am now ready for the fine details on the ram's head, which have been sketched out in red coloured pencil. The idea will be to exaggerate the indented areas a little bit to create enough shadow to make the detail sing at a moderate distance.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 23
Sheep horn is a difficult medium in which to create fine detail, since the pattern of the horn itself tends to dominate the composition.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 22) by Shane Wilson

As it is important to keep working both horns at the same time, I have switched back to the 'melted' side and have begun to rough in the planes on the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 22a
You can see the relief nature of the carving in this second photo.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 22b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 21) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have worked to refine the ram's head, adding some detail and restoring the balance and proportion using the initial reference image.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 21a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 21b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 20) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have completed roughing in the broken area behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 20c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 19) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the broken area behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19c

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 19d
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 18) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have worked exclusively on the left horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18a
The rearmost planes on the ram's head and body have been recessed and the horns have been established in their final positions.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18b
The jagged background roughing in has begun above the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 18c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 17) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I thought it was time to bring both horns together to begin to even out the design over both sculptures.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17a
I have also removed the photocopied template from the horn on the right side and identified the major planes on the ram's face.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17b
The recessed horn on the right has also been roughed in, while the major planes are again penciled in on the left horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 17c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 16) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to shape the torn/melted elements to give them some life in 3D.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 16c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 15) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the background horn material has been reduced to create the effect of popping up the torn/melted elements.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 15a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 15b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, the back of the horn behind the ram's was carved away to create the negative space around the head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14a
Following this a small 1/8" rounded over straight burr was used to create a depth outline around the melted elements.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14b
This will enable me to remove horn around the elements to a uniform depth, creating the illusion that the horn is melting and flying apart as the ram charges through.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14c
Large 1/4 " ball and cylinder burrs were used to remove the bulk of the horn behind the ram's head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 14d
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to refine the outlines of the 'melted' horn and to begin clearing the horn material around the big horn sheep's head, using the same tools from the last phase with the addition of the straight, single-fluted 1/8" burr.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 13a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 13b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

The outlines of the second horn have been roughed out and plenty of horn removed using the band saw and both a 1/4" shafted ball burr on the Foredom and a rounded over 1/8" straight burr on the NSK micromotor grinder.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 12a

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 12b
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

The image is slowly beginning to appear. It will be necessary to remove more background material on the rear side of the ram's head, to allow the back horn to recess further, enhancing the 3D effect.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 11
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

An intermediate step. This is the beginning of the 'messy phase' when the design element is being roughed out and the artist despairs of creating something that will resemble the real thing.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 10a
It is important to stop and look during the carving process, marking the next steps carefully - in this case with a red pencil crayon.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 10b
Avoid marking the carving with permanent ink or graphite, which tend to become trapped in the fibres of the horn or antler and discolour the sculpture.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

I have decided to include the candy cane element on some of the shards, indicative of their place in the path prior to the ram breaking through.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 9a
It is time to begin roughing in the ram's head. The object is to create the head in high relief to give the impression that it is breaking through on a 3/4 angle. This will not be easy as sheep heads are a marvel of weird angles and impossible curves.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 9b
As a first step, I have used a pointy burr to pierce the paper template to give some idea of the placement of the primary structures. It is very easy to lose one's way at this point, so for the next few days I'll take it slowly to allow the 3D image to build and rebuild in my mind.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to rough in the cracking design around the sheep head.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8a
From the images below you get a further sense of the stock removal 'behind the scenes' to allow light through around the head, giving the impression that the ram is breaking though.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8b

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 8c
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to add back in the cracking portion of the design and an additional element, a candycane, expanding stripe, that will be incised into the horn to give the path a sense of dimension and placement in space.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 7
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have cleaned up the design elements and have begun to establish the planes relative to one another.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 6a
I have also begun to work out how the negative space around the ram's head will look relative to the path it is breaking through.

The lines marking the cracks in the path have disappeared due to the removal of horn material, but they will be reapplied and carved into the horn in a future phase.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 6b
This shot shows the stock removal from the back of the horn.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

In this phase, I have begun to rough out the design on the big horn sheep horn with the angled pattern.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 5
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

When cutting out sections of the horn along the thinner base, I have found that it is better to carve the grove with a rounded over straight burr, rather than try to cut the section with a saw.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 4
This prevents the horn from binding on the blade, which horn is prone to do.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The bandsaw was used to remove larger stock along the edges of the design.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 3a
The sheep horn catches the saw when it encounters the border between the solid outer portion and the inner pulpy section. This can be a little dangerous, so it is important to hold the horn securely.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 3b
It is possible to see how solid the horn is along the cut sections.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

As so often happens, things change.

I started off with the concept of the two rams charging each other and had in mind a kind of Mobius curve, wherein each horn was carved along a path from tip to base and back up the other side, curving over on itself at the end of which the ram's head, to be realized abstractly, would be carved at the moment when the ram drops into the collision at the end of the charge.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2a
But the more I worked the idea the more I liked the concept of the ram breaking through its own path.

The idea is synonymous with a personal journey toward maturity.

We are all the product of a history, a past, the end product (for the moment) of generations upon generations of those who have gone before. We are the product of family, culture, religion, race, on and on.

Part of becoming an adult is coming to terms with our heritage as we make our own way, not completely breaking with the past but nearly so.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2b
These two sculptures form a set, each telling the same tale of individuation and maturity, but from the perspective of two very different personalities.

The one is cool the other hot.

The left horn shows the ram shattering its way through its path, like breaking glass or fracturing ice. The right horn shows the ram melting through its path, molten tears evident in its wake.

Angles and Curves.


Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 2c
Appropriately, this sculpture set has been commissioned by a proud father for his two sons, each different - both making their way in the world.

I am going to have to change the name of the sculpture set, but need to give the matter more thought.

(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

In the first phase, the outer material of the big horn sheep horn is removed.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-1
This includes the damaged or broomed portions at the end of both horns.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-2
Note the creamy to black coloration of the horn, with some translucence beginning to appear.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Phase 1-3
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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'Big Horns Ram' (Begin) by Shane Wilson

This commission will be carved into a pair of mountain found horns from a big horn sheep who died of natural causes.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-1
The commissioner asked to have a sheep head and abstract pattern carved into each horn, which will be given as gifts to his two sons.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-2
For the purposes of the In Progress narrative, the horn on the left will be known as Left Horn, and the horn on the right will be known as Right Horn.

Big Horns Ram, by Shane Wilson - Begin-3
The name of the piece is a play on words between the medium and the subject matter. The horns will be carved to give the appearance, when the two horns are placed together, of two big horned sheep ramming. These are also very big thick horns, from a mature, adult, male, big horn sheep.
(big horn sheep horn carving, big horn sheep horn sculpture)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

LINKS: Gaia - Complete Work in Progress Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Self Portrait' - Photography Session with Gary Wildman

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

LINKS: Self Portrait - Complete Work in Progress Video

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

'Self Portrait, 2009' by Shane Wilson

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

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

The first stop in Whitehorse was Sidrock, to pick up the jade base for Self Portrait.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
Sid successfully drilled the hole into the jade, but the only suitable bit size was slightly smaller than the white plastic cup prepared for the acrylic stand, so he had the cup machined to reduce its external diameter, making for a precise fit.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
The jade boulder was left in its original condition, apart from the hole and some leveling on the bottom surface.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 7
The above pictures were taken in the preparation room at the Yukon Arts Centre, prior to the unveiling.

Note how the overall colour of the piece changes with different lighting, including the reflected light from the jade boulder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINKS: Work in Progress Video

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

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

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

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

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

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

The acrylic stand is now complete, so I travelled to Vancouver today to pick it up and was absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
Robert Spicer, Associated Plastics, with "Self Portrait" and the acrylic stand he created

Robert Spicer created the minimalist stand to be virtually invisible, while getting the job done positioning two heavy, irregular objects, fixed in space relative to each other. The effect of the bronze wolf skull appearing to float above the musk ox horns has been achieved.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
Robert Spicer, adjusting the acrylic stand for the carved bronze and musk ox horn sculpture "Self Portrait"

Robert reports having extensive experience building displays for a variety of venues and museums, including the National Gallery in Ottawa, and says that this project was by far his most difficult project to date.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 6
The cardboard template, seen at the top of the picture above, will now be marked and sent to Sidrock, where the nylon receiving cup will be inserted into the jade boulder base.

To see how the stand works, check out the video below, which I have included primarily for the benefit of the curatorial staff at the Yukon Art Centre Gallery, where the sculpture will reside as a permanent donation.


LINKS: Instructional Video for Installing Sculpture on Stand

NOTE: Podcasts will no longer be available on iTunes. All material has been moved to YouTube where clips can be viewed and downloaded.

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

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

Associated Plastics forwarded these shots to establish the correct position of the bronze skull above the carved musk ox horns.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 5
They nailed it this time!

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 5
Once the acrylic has been cut and adhered to the column, it will be rounded over and polished.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn bronze skull sculpture)

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

In this phase the design of the acrylic stand has been further worked to include the modifications we discussed last time.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
You can see that the mount for the bronze skull has been modified to extend it out from the acrylic column and a device has been created to hold the skull in place from within.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
Pins have been substituted for screws in the portion of the stand that clamps onto the musk oxen horns.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
Also, the extension has been shortened to reposition the horns closer to the acrylic column.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade acrylic base, phase 4
The only modification remaining is to correctly position the bronze wolf skull over the musk oxen horns.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn 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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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved musk oxen skull on jade base)

Today was a travel day to Vancouver, B.C. Canada. My first stop was Associated Plastics to meet with Lloyd and Rob regarding the acrylic stand for the musk ox horn and bronze wolf skull sculpture, "Self Portrait."

They have done a fantastic job inventing a stand that has the strength necessary for supporting the entirety of the sculpture, while maintaining the pieces in their appropriate positions relative to each other.

Lloyd and Rob, Associated Plastics and Acrylic Pedestal
Lloyd and Rob from Associated Plastics in Vancouver, B.C. Canada

There were several modifications required, which they were happy to implement.

The part of the stand holding the musk oxen horns will be shortened to draw the horns closer to the main column, placing it under the bronze wolf skull.

The wolf skull mount will be modified to extend it over the horns below, while centering it over the division of the horns.

Finally the silver screws will be replaced with black pins and a black ring cap will be machined to sit atop the white cup which will be inset into the jade boulder to receive the column.


Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 3
It is expected that the modifications will be completed over the next couple of weeks.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn 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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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Self Portrait has been in Vancouver being fitted on an acrylic support column which will be mounted in the jade base.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 2
The company creating the supporting column and attaching points is Associated Plastics. The concept is great so far, but some adjustments to the positioning of the musk oxen horns and bronze skull elements relative to each other will need to be made.

I am also wondering about the size of the acrylic column. It may be a little large for the sculpture.


Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 2
I'll be traveling to Vancouver next week and will stop in to help determine the adjustments.
(musk oxen horn bronze skull carving, musk oxen horn 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' - On Display In Cases

The carved bronze Skullpture Series is now on display in its permanent home in the St Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada.

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

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

Skullpture Series Unveiling in Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)
All that remains to complete this body of work is the carved moose antler and bronze moose skull sculpture, 'Moose 1', which will be displayed in the large end display case.

Progress on this sculpture can be seen by clicking in the sidebar on Skullpture Series - Moose.
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

LINKS - Skullpture Series Information Sheets on Display:
SkullptureSeries2007
SkullptureSeries-WIP
SkullptureSeries-Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Skullpture Series' - Display Cases - Phase 5

The case is finished, complete with lighting and mirrored interiors, which will enable the carved bronze Skullptures to be viewed from a variety of angles. Once the flooring around the case is completed, the carved bronze Skullpture Series will be installed and unveiled.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Note that the larger display cubicle does not have mirrored sides or back. The carved antler and bronze moose skull sculpture will be intended for viewing from the front only. This cubicle will be used to display work from the local quilters association until the carved antler and bronze moose skull sculpture is complete and ready for installation.
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 4

The third row is roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
The milk crates are being used to determine the size of the base that will be created to accommodate the bronze moose skull and carved antler sculpture. It was necessary to determine the dimensions of the sculpture as well at his point. (See the related blog entry which shows the antlers chosen for this sculpture.)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 3

The second row is roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 2

The first row and the large cubicle at the end, which will face away at 90 degrees, are roughed in.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze and antler skullpture carving, bronze and antler skull sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Phase 1

The display case begins to take shape. The floor covering around the case has been removed.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series', 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze) - Display Cases - Plans

The display cases have been designed to house the Skullpture Series. Note how the display case will fit nicely into the beautiful curved staircase of the St. Elias Convention Centre. The architect for the Convention Centre was contracted to develop the plans for the cases, so that that they would appear consistent with the overall design.

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon - Plans (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)
Skullpture Display Case - Plans

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

The designs for each carving are drawn directly onto the raw bronze prior to carving. (2004-2005) The bronzes below are in various states of design and carving, all preliminary. Two of the skulls (small wolverine and grizzly) were finished and patinated without being carved. I decided to change this later and carved both skulls.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 1
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Using power grinders and carbide burrs, designed for metal work, the designs are carved and the bases are completed using black granite. Following the carving the surface is smoothed with sandpaper, depending on the kind of patination to be applied. (2004-2007)

Below are a selection of images taken during this phase.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Seal 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 2

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Human 1

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
Skullpture Series - Wolf 2
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Prior to patination, it is important to clean the surface of the bronze, to remove impurities and any surface oxidation. The most effective way to do this is to sandblast the surface with a fine grit sand. It is important to avoid touching the surface of the bronze with bare hands after this process, as it will pick up oils and create uneven application/oxidization of the patina.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

The next stage is to apply the base coat, which in this case is an application of Birchwood Casey applied cold and then rinsed. An alternative base coat would be liver of sulphur, also applied cold. Following the rinsing, the bronze is heated to set the base coat and then the whole is rubbed back with steel wool.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Finally it is time to apply the patina! There are numerous oxidizing agents available for patination, all lending a unique look and colour to the bronze. I have chosen to use bismuth nitrate (with varying additions of titanium oxide) and silver nitrate for the human skull and some accents on other pieces (eg. wolverine). The patina is also applied by brush, lending a unique, ringed pattern to the finish. The patina is applied to a hot bronze surface, made so with an open flamed torch. Following the application the entire surface is quenched in water and reheated to dry the bronze and set the patina. The pics below show the patination set up and a variety of pieces in various stages of completion. Note the patina seems much whiter than it will appear after the final coat of lacquer is applied.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Carving and Patination - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The patina is fragile and needs to be protected by a couple of coats of lacquer. Since the lacquer lends a plastic look to surface, two coats of Trewax are applied and buffed to dull the surface down and provide additional protection. Voila, the finished bronzes!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, carving and patination in progress, phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

The bronzes will be photographed professionally and I'll post the images as they become available.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Once the bronze is brought up to the right temperature, the crucible, containing the molten bronze, is removed with a large pair of tongs, operated by two people.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

The crucible is placed in the carrying device ...

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

... which allows the handlers to pour the bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Once the metal has cooled sufficiently, it is removed to another work area, preferably outside!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 13) by Shane Wilson

I am using a sledge hammer to loosen the shell from the bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 13 (carved bronze skulls)

The bronze appears!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 13 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 14) by Shane Wilson

The remainder of the shell is removed using and air point chisel, and hand chisels.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 14 (carved bronze skulls)

The inner surfaces are particularly challenging to free of shell.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 14 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 15) by Shane Wilson

The freed bronze, with sprues still attached.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 15 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 16) by Shane Wilson

The sprues have been cut off with a torch and/or hacksaw. Any cracks or holes have been filled with a welder using bronze rods. The irregularities have been 'chased' or ground smooth, using burrs and air tools. Then the whole bronze has been sandblasted to create an even surface prior to carving.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 16 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

Wax has been poured into the two halves of the mold to test the quality of the mold.

Skullptures by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

The first wax impression from this mold!

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The two halves have been trimmed and assembled. Though the cast version will use a single wax taken from the attached mold, this give some impression of the wax prior to casting.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

This is a pic of the wolverine and seal skulls as they are being sprued up with wax rods. The intention is to create a path for the bronze to enter the sculptures and to allow air and bronze to escape, filling the sculpture completely with bronze.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

After spruing, the entire assembly is dipped in a cement-like slurry, then covered in fine silica sand.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)

It is then placed on a wire shelf and allowed to dry throuroughly (2 hours). Air tubes are inserted to allow inner surfaces an equal chance to dry.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

The sculpture is dipped thirteen times and covered in courser grades of sand. This pic shows the wolverine/seal assembly in an early stage of dipping, and the grizzly skull after its final dip.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Once dry, the shell is drilled from the end opposite the end that will receive the bronze. It is then turned upsidedown in a kiln and the wax is melted out of the shell, as the shell is cured.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

The cured shell is allowed to cool, then inspected for cracks. The drill hole is patched and the cracks are repaired with a special cement.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

The bronze furnace is heated. Note the piece of bronze on the lid, which is 'drying' prior to insertion in the crucible.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)

As the bronze is heating, the ceramic shells are replaced in the kiln and heated/dried prior to the pour. This is necessary to avoid cracking or an explosion, due to the shock of hot bronze contacting a cold shell and or moisture.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)

The final piece of bronze is melted.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

The HOT shells are secured by chains in the sandpit. Note the protective clothing and gear.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)

A close up of the secured, hot, ceramic shells.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 12) by Shane Wilson

Repeat of step 11. Note that there were two high points on this side. Two holes were drilled. When the lower high point filled, it was covered with clay, to allow the rest of the mold to fill.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Gently pry the mold apart after allowing the silicone to set fully.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Separate the silicone from the original.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 12 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

I have determined a centre line for the two-piece mold and have begun to build up around the base, in order to create the mold for the top half.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

Note the use of styrofoam and synthetic clay. If you look carefully, you can see the pencil mark used to determine the centre line.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

Take the lower portion of the mold off, turn the sculpture, silicone and fibreglass over and repeat the previous steps to make the second half of the mold and shell.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

Repeat of steps 4-10. Note that once the second fibreglass shell is complete, holes are drilled through both flanges and bolts with wing nuts are inserted. Use a grinder or sawsall to trim the rough fibreglass edge.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)

When trimming the molds with the sawsall and grinder, make sure that separation of the molds is achieved. Though the fibreglass will bind on the edges, it should not have bound on the surface treated with the grease.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 11 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Clean out the filler clay, repair the flange, spray the entire sculpture and fringe with release, then add a silicone bead around the inner portion of the flange ...

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)

... Drill a hole in the highest point of the fibreglass shell and reattach to the sculpture and flange, using reference points. Pour in silicone mold compound slowly, to allow air to escape.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 10 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

When hardened and dry, remove the fibreglass from the sculpture, after drilling reference holes around the flange. Insert screws into the reference holes in the clay.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 9 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Add an extra layer of matt and resin around the flange for additional support.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 8 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Layer resin and fibreglass. Tear the fibreglass matt and touch to the resin...

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)

... then tamp in with a brush and resin.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 7 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

I am painting on a mizture of 4 parts Bondo (with 1" hardener) to one part resin (with one squeeze of hardener, mixed first).

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

Be careful not to get this stuff on the styrofoam, as it dissolved readily!

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)

Complete and allowed to harden.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 6 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

A release agent is painted on prior to adding the fibreglass. In this case it is axle grease cut with thinner!

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 5 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

I have begun to add another 3/8" layer of clay over the skull to create a space for the latex, once the fibreglass shell is created.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)

Note, this second layer of clay covers the skull only and does not extend onto the original 'flange' of clay.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Duct Tape or Saran Wrap is placed over the skull to protect it during the next phase.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Large Mold - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The clay is built up to the half way point on the skull and smoothed out.

Skullpture Series, Large Mold by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Wax to Bronze - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

The molds have been tested, then sealed up and filled with hot wax. The wax is allowed to cool for a few minutes, forming a shell against the mold. When the shell is about 1/4" thick the remaining liquid wax is poured back into the melting pot. We used a large crock pot to melt the wax and keep it at a suitable temperature over an extended period.

Skullpture by Shane Wilson, wax to bronze in progress, phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

Not all attempts as pulling a suitable wax from the mold are successful. The beauty of wax is that it can be remelted and used again. Note some of the successful waxes visible along the back of the bench.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Small Mold - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

This is a shot of several other of the small molds in various stages of creation. The second half of the small wolverine mold has been completed.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 4 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Small Mold - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

Once the silicone has set, remove the outer wall of the mold. Leaving the skull embedded in the silicone, remove the plastercine and free the skull from the plywood base. Flip it over and redo the wall, sealing all edges and gaps with plastercine. Spray the entire surface with a release agent and pour the lower portion of the mold.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)

These pictures give you a sense of what the top half of the mold looks like. Note that the pencil indentations are now little knobs, which will mesh nicely with the poured lower half. Note also how much excess silicone is used in this process.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 3 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Small Mold - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 2 (carved bronze skulls)

The silicone has been poured. There are a variety of silicone products available, this is a Smooth On product. Follow directions carefully for the mixing of the silicone components; each product comes with its own specific directions.
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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'Skullpture Series' (Small Mold - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

To create a silicone mold from a skull there are a few options, two of which I used in the creation of the molds for the Skullpture Series. For smaller items the molds created were of solid silicone. The larger grizzly skull mold was created inside a fibre glass shell, to reduce the amount of silicone used, saving both cost and weight.

All molds begin by securing the skull to a plywood base. Then it is important to decide on a mid point on the skull, along which the mold will divide. There should be no serious overhangs or undercuts, which would hang up the mold and prevent it from being separated.


Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)

In these images, the small wolverine skull has been attaced to the plywood base and a centre line has been drawn on the skull in pencil crayon.

I have fashioned a wall around the skull with a milk carton and filled the carton with plastercine, up to the predetermined midway point on the skull.

Using the other end of the pencil crayon, guide holes have been made in the plastercine. The entire surface has been sprayed with a release agent, prior to pouring in the silicone, which will create the top half of the mold.


Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress phase 1 (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

One further note: the mold is being fashioned from silicone, because it can be reused. If I were interested in creating a 'one off', other materials would have been cheaper and more suitable, like plaster. The process of creating the mold remains the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Skullpture Series' - Display Cases Complete

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

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

Skullpture Series Display Cases, St Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, Yukon (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

These show cases in the St Elias Convention Centre, a work of art in themselves, are complete and ready to display the carved bronze Skullpture Series. Total cost $53,000 CND. An unveiling of the carved bronze Skullpture Series, in their wonderful new home, is planned for the evening of Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at the Convention Centre in Haines Junction, Yukon.

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'Skullpture Series' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
skulls left to right: grizzly, black bear, wolf, fox, beaver, lynx, large wolverine, martin, seal, small wolverine, human

The Skullpture Series begins with real skulls. Each skull has been prepped for the mold making process. The natural holes have been filled with Chavant clay to prevent the intrusion of silicone into the skull.

It is necessary to create molds from each of the skulls in order to create wax duplicates, which will then be cast in bronze.

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
small wolverine skull

Since the technique used to prepare the molds differs depending on the size of the object to be cast, we will follow the mold making process for a small skull, small wolverine (above), and a large skull, grizzly (below).

Skullpture Series, Grizzly by Shane Wilson, in progress begin (carved bronze skulls)
grizzly skull
(bronze carving, carved bronze sculpture)

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

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

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

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'Skullpture Series' by Shane Wilson

Skullpture Series, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls) - Artist Statement
"Just as a fossil uncovered is evidence of life, so too, this carved bronze Skullpture Series reflects the architecture of being alive."
Shane Wilson


Skullpture Series, Black Bear 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Black Bear 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Black Bear 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Grizzly 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Grizzly 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Grizzly 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Human 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Human 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Human 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Large Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Large Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Seal 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Seal 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Seal 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Small Wolverine 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Small Wolverine 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)

Skullpture Series, Wolf 1, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson Skullpture Series, Wolf 2, 2007 (carved bronze skulls) by Shane Wilson
Skullpture Series - Wolf 1 and 2, 2007 by Shane Wilson (carved bronze skulls)
(bronze skullpture carving, bronze skull sculpture)

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

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

As noted in the commentary on the other drawing, the migratory birds will '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.

Work on this sculpture is scheduled to start in April 2001.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 2) by Shane Wilson

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

On the right side, the design elements have been extended from within the composition out onto the border. In some places, the lines will match exactly, whereas in other places the lines are a little out of sink, as if a long object were viewed, partly submerged in water. I will maintain an edge between the border and the composition, in order to entice the viewer around to the proper perpendicular angle for viewing, as if to get a better look through a window at the scene.

The background elements in the composition will be cut out in an outline pattern, suggesting mountains, a lake, the river up which the salmon swim, and even some of the salmon in the river itself. This approach allows me to include a great deal of information about the two scenes of summer and fall as background, while allowing the bulk of the relief work to be used within the figurative elements. Otherwise, if the mountains and the river were done as objects with mass, thereby consuming more of the depth of the antler for greater relief treatment, the figures would have less depth of material available, appearing flatter against a solid background, and not as interesting.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 3) by Shane Wilson

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

I decided to leave the cuts that I had planned for the water falling behind the 'fall' bear until the carving proceeded a little further. It may be that the three sections of falling water will look best carved in relief. If not, then it will be appropriate to remove the planned sections at that time. The key with carving is don't take it off until you're sure.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 4) by Shane Wilson

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

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.

One visitor to my studio commented that the carving looks to be almost completed. It would certainly be great if that were true, but the majority of time has yet to be spent on the details and finishing. The analogy I often use is that of the building of a structure. Once the shell is up, it appears the building is nearly completed. But that is deceiving, because the inside work always takes most of the time.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 5) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 5

In this phase, I have worked the upper portion of the right antler, further refining the planes and shapes. The eye and mouth regions of the two bears have been left to a later phase. My decision to make the border portion blocky and square may not work on the tines, which seem to give the appearance of being cut off. I'll leave them for the moment and see how they look when the whole right side has been worked for the second time.

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

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 6) by Shane Wilson

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

The bear and fish have been further refined and await the final detailing.

The water is almost finished, with interesting patterns in the lower palm of the antler and around the lower border. I have added a whirlpool design to two of the lower tines and on the shaft of the antler. The area around the butt of the antler has been cleaned up but retains the original shapes to represent splashing water.


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

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

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

This phase has been one of the trickiest and most time consuming to date. The mother bear in the summer scene has been further defined. The section of antler is extremely thin here and the challenge has been to design the mother so that she looks substantial from the probable vantage point of the viewer. The antler curves toward the viewer, exposing the thinness of the antler along its edge. The best solution has been to carve the body texture of the bear deeply in relief, permitting a rounding of the multiple surfaces, while finishing the nose and mouth area in the round, providing a pleasing illusion of substance which works from every vantage point.

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

The brown marks are made by a pencil crayon and serve as reference points for further refinement. I find that pencil crayon is preferable to pencil, as pencil leaves fragments of graphite which persist in the pores of the antler. The pencil crayon's waxy consistency tends to remain on the surface of the carving and comes away easily during subsequent work.

The small holes represent Yukon's ever present summer environment: insects. Yukon's summers belong to the blood suckers, save in the small oases human bug killing technologies have carved out of the wilderness, which are our towns. With such an influence, nay, dominance over the summer landscape, I felt it necessary to include them in the sculpture, along with the creature we typically assign to that role.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have completely redone the 'frame' or antler border. Not happy with the effect of carrying the background lines of mountain and sun onto high relief along the border, as it flattened out the image, I have carved away these effects. Replacing these with a continuation of the sun ray and insect theme, it seems much more pleasing. The mountain and sun appear to recede and the rays carry the wavy pattern of sun and mountain into the lower half of the antler, where the pattern changes to water. The insects now appear to cluster, as they are wont to do. I have refined their shapes, adding larger and smaller holes to give the impression of 3D clusters, with some bugs closer and some further from the viewer.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8

Another element of the design that was troubling me and seemed to flatten the scene, was the connection point of mountain line and mother bear. Since the medium of antler is 3D and can be viewed from multiple points, the mountain and horizon line did not recede as in a 2D drawing or picture, where the use of darker and lighter shades push the background into the distance. I decided to create the effect of distance or separation using another visual illusion, whereby the background around a near object does not seem to exist, blocked by a kind of halo effect around the object. While this adds to the fragility of the carving, I decided to cut the mountain from around the mother bear.

The horizon line will also be removed along the orange line, once the cub has been roughed out. In the meantime it will remain for support. Since it is not possible to put material back, once removed, I used the clone brush in Paint Shop Pro to eliminate these sections in a digital image, to see if the effect worked. It did, to my satisfaction, and I think the initial removal of the mountain connections would bear this out.

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

The sun and mother bear have been completely reworked and refined, bringing them to a finished stage. So it's on to the cub and the buck brush in the foreground.

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

I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! How much longer 'till the whole is done?
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

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

I have included a pic of the entire sculpture so that you can get a sense of the whole.

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

In this phase the grizzly cub has been completed, save only for a few minor adjustments. The horizon line, which passed behind both bears, has been removed.

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

I am now using a Canon S30 digital camera with a 3.2 megapixel image size. My hope is that you will see greater detail with a little more clarity.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

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

In this phase, I have designed the cut patterns for the hair. I am attempting to create a design that will be pleasing to the eye (since it represents a large portion of the sculpture) yet still conveys the impression of a wet bear.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

It feels so good to be working on this bear. The lines and curves melt underneath my blades in sumptuous abandon, revealing what, I hope, looks like a wet bear with fish. Pure joy.

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

I have purchased an "Ott Light" to aid me in my endeavors, and the difference is truly remarkable. The full spectrum, florescent floor lamp, was developed for Disney to provide natural-artificial light for a flower photoshoot. I don't know how I have managed all these years without it! It is so easy on the eyes, reducing strain and illuminating hard to see areas that I may not have treated adequately in the past.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

I have included two 'in progress' images with this update.

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

The first picture shows the head and neck completed, the front leg in a nearly finished stage, the shoulders, back and chest in the first stages of carving and the rear leg as it is originally sketched out. The second picture shows the carving with the bear finished up to the rear leg. If you scan back and forth between the images, you can spot the differences and refinements, especially along the front leg. The third pic shows the bear in the context of the other figures on the antler.

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

I think my Elector GX micromotor carving tool has finally given up - so it will need to be sent off for repairs. My guess is that the bearings are shot and need replacing. The handpiece was heating up prior to it ceasing function. This will slow things down for a while, but I'll see what headway can be made with the flexible shaft Foredom in the interim.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

The micro-motor carving tool is still not back, but I thought I'd share the work done with the Foredom. It is a larger instrument with a flexible shaft that can be a little awkward for working the finer details, but things went pretty well. The Foredom has come in very handy a number of times for bulk removal with larger 1/4" burrs. This is the first time I have used it for fine work, using 1/8" and 3/32" burrs. I'll clean up the lines one more time when the Elector returns.

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

I changed the flow of the waterfall and decided to eliminate the raised border around the rear of the bear. My initial thought for this side was to create a border with continuous design elements from the carving within. I eliminated this from the upper half of the design, and it just didn't make sense on the lower half, with the exception of the water below. My problem with carrying the composition into the border was that it flattened out the design and in some places created visual confusion. Thus, the water on the left flows from the border; the buck brush on the right border has been preserved and the tip on the left has been removed, to create the illusion of the land moving into the distance; the bear's rear goes out of the antler (my hope is that the eye will fill in the gaps) and the water flows around the back feet and down into the pool below.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

In this phase the bushes, rear of the lower bear, the salmon in its mouth and the water have all been cleaned up and finalized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

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

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

I find now that I like the stylized lines of the neck. However, I do see areas on it that can use a little touching up, it is still a little too thick. I will also undercut the eyes a little more, which should help them to stand out more clearly.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

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

The branch is gone and the moose has been further refined, especially the back of the moose, the face and antlers. The neck lines have been deepened and rounded but are still a little too stylized and will need to be de-emphasized. Other than that and some touch ups throughout, it is almost finished.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

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

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

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

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

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

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

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

Moving back to the scroll saw, the borders were thinned and shaped, increasing the negative space. Then work was begun on the body of the moose to round and position the back and legs.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Tribute to Michio' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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!
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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'Celtic Confusion' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - phase 1 (carved moose antler)

The antler has been skinned in preparation for adding the design.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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

Celtic Confusion by Shane Wilson, in progress - begin (carved moose antler)

This carving will consist of a series of "ribbons", each beginning in the base of the antler and finding its way over a slightly convoluted path to a different tine. This is a very large antler, with striking tines, and I hope it will make a beautiful carving which accents those tines.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Self Portrait' (Jade Acrylic Base - Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

The base for the sculpture will be a jade boulder. I visited a stone supplier in Whitehorse, called SidRock, when I was in town for the Yukon Seasons unveiling. He had a large assortment of boulders and we chose this one for the base.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
A cardboard template (above) was prepared, which I have brought back to the studio to determine where the hole will be drilled for the stand, upon which I will mount the horns and bronze.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
Sid McKeown (pictured above) will also level the bottom, so that it will sit flat.

Self Portrait by Shane Wilson, in progress, jade base, phase 1
It is a lovely, clear green colour in its natural state, so will need very little other work.
(musk oxen horn carving, musk oxen horn sculpture)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'Duality' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, begin (carved moose skull)

This commission makes use of a moose skull which was found in the bush a few years ago. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see lichens and mosses. This is a sure sign that the skull is very old, since things grow very slowly up in northern Canada.

The design of this piece will further an idea I've been working on for some time. I'm going to simplify the shapes of the skull and then carve a pattern of overlapping planes across the entire surface area. I hope to inlay gold flakes in some of the cracks, for a little extra sparkle.

The finished piece will be mounted on a wooden stand.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 1 (carved moose skull)

The skull is a perfect piece of art in its natural state so I will need to be careful what I design in order to complement its natural grace and beauty.

So far, I've used a large Foredom grinder with a round bit on a 1/4" shaft and a smaller cone bit with the SMC Moto Tool, for those hard to reach places. The focus has been to clean up the skull and simplify the shapes. I have removed much extraneous material. I'll probably spend another day or so refining the basic shape of the skull, before proceeding to lay out the detailed pattern of overlapping planes.

One thing I've discovered about the teeth, is that they are quite fragile and tend to flake quite easily. I will reinforce them with glue.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 2 (carved moose skull)

I have learned a great deal about the architecture of the skull. It is wondrous indeed! Judicious in its use of resources, just enough material is used to accomplish the various purposes the skull serves. The skull is also extraordinarily beautiful. As mentioned last phase, the internal shapes and structures are both graceful and sufficient on their own as art.

For the last while, I have been engaged in subtraction. Some of the decisions about what to remove were obvious, others not. I concentrated on removing thin and rotten areas first, then turned my hand to removing material that would enable the underlying structures to show. Finally, I spent several days restoring, cleaning and stabilizing the teeth.

Throughout the grinding process, I used both the larger Foredom tool and the pencil thin Dremel. Given the many tight spaces within the skull, the Dremel was the most popular choice. I used double-fluted ball bits, all 1/4" shafts, as they seemed to bounce around the least while grinding in confined spaces. They are also the safest bit for grinding in sensitive areas, since they will not gouge accidentally.

The next stage will involve laying down the design and developing its depth throughout the piece.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 3 (carved moose skull)

I have completed the pattern on both sides of the skull. As evidenced from the picture the pattern will be different on each side. The two sides will be tied together by a common thread, evident on the bridge of the nose and the back of the skull. Usually, when laying out the design of a carving, it is necessary to sketch a small area and then lay in an initial carved line - because the pencil marks blur given all the handling. In order to lay in the full design this time, I sprayed the pencil lines with an acrylic spray. The spray protects the lines from handling, but allows the lines to be erased if I decide to change their position.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 4) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 4 (carved moose skull)

I've completed the left side of the skull.

The surface of the skull varies considerably for carving purposes, some areas are thick and luscious, whereas others are thin and delicate. The mid section of the nose is quite thin and may need to be carved away. I'll leave it as is for now and see how the rest turns out.
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Phase 5) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)

All of the work these past weeks has been with the SMC Moto Tool and the Dremel. With the former tool I work out the lines and depths, then with the later I even out the planes. If you were to compare this carving process to drawing: the former tool creates the outline and the later shades the image.

There are tremendous contrasts in thickness which I have attempted to use to full advantage. On the top of the head, where the antlers attach, I have created an extruded relief in 3D. Over the thinest sections along the cheek bone, I have used shallow relief, completely removing some of the deeper sections, so that holes form part of the pattern. (Some of the holes occur naturally and I am still debating whether or not to leave them as they are or incorporate them into the design by giving them an angular shape.)

All that remains is some minor finishing work on this side, sand and polish the whole, and then mount the finished work.


Duality by Shane Wilson, in progress, phase 5 (carved moose skull)
(moose skull carving, moose skull sculpture)

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'Duality' (Finished) by Shane Wilson (Moose Antler Carving)

Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson (carved moose skull)

Well, it's finally finished!

The final stages involved sharpening up the lines and divisions between the shapes, for which I used carbide dental bits, provided by the local dentist. I then used a Dremel stone grinder to smooth the surfaces and remove the marks left by the various other bits. Finally, I polished the entire surface with a cloth Dremel polishing wheel. This was the first time I've tried the cloth wheel and found that, while it was effective, it covered me and a five foot radius with threads as it disintegrated. In three hours of use it was reduced to 1/8" radius from its original 3/4". Nevertheless, it seemed to be more effective than the felt polishing/buffing wheels and I'll buy another one for next time.

I also added small highlights of gold, purchased in Dawson City. There were small holes in the skull that seemed to detract from the overall effect, which the gold, held in place by ZAP-A-GAP CA Glue, eliminated.


Duality, 1997 by Shane Wilson, on stand

The problem of how to mount and display the work took some time to resolve.

After planing the wood beams, taken from pallets, they were glued together and planed to a final thickness. I sketched out a profile on one side which immitated the skull, reproduced it on the other and cut it out using my band saw. I then sanded and routered the edges.

After some experimentation, I found that a single piece of wood, inserted through the large opening in the rear of the skull, could support the weight of the entire skull. The supporting member was designed to echo the negative space at the back of the upper jaw. The pedestal is designed in such a way that the skull does not need to be permanently attached. The skull fits over the end of the pedestal and its weight binds it fast.

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

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'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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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.
(moose antler carving, moose antler sculpture)

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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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