'Five Wolves' (Finished) by Shane Wilson

LINK: Gallery Images

Here are the Five Wolves, mounted and ready for display.

'Five Wolves' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Five Wolves' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculptures)

'Wolf 1' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 1' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on oak base)

'Wolf 2' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 2' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on padouk base)

'Wolf 3' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 3' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)

'Wolf 4' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 4 by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)

'Wolf 5' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture)
'Wolf 5' by Shane Wilson, 2011 (carved moose antler sculpture on walnut base)


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share









'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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).


Bookmark and Share

'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.


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'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


Bookmark and Share

'Five Wolves' (Phase 1) by Shane Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bookmark and Share

'Five Wolves' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson

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

Thinking of Christmas ...

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

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

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

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

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



Bookmark and Share

'Silvi-Skullpture Series - Wolf, Pine Beetle Track, 2011' by Shane Wilson (complete)

LINK: Gallery Images

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Wolf, Beetle Tracks' by Shane Wilson


Bookmark and Share

'Silvi-Skullpture Series 2011' - Wolf, Pine Beetle Track - Raw Bronze

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Wolf, Beetle Tracks' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze a
The raw bronze has been returned from the foundry.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Wolf, Beetle Tracks' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze b
Some of the gates and matrix from the casting process are still attached and will need to be ground away using carbide burrs and sanding disks.

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Wolf, Beetle Tracks' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze c
This process is called 'chasing.'

'Skullpture Series, 2011 - Wolf, Beetle Tracks' by Shane Wilson, raw bronze d
Also, I will add some additional detailing directly into the bronze prior to finishing with a multicoloured patina.


Bookmark and Share

'Silvi-Skullpture Series 2011' - Three Waxes

I have decided to create another series of themed bronze Skullptures, and to continue to do so on an annual basis going forward.

Part of the inspiration for this decision came from an invitation to show at the
Algonquin Arts Centre Gallery in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada. The Algonquin Arts Centre Gallery is open seasonally from June 1 to mid October each year.

This year the theme for their exhibition and sale is 'The International Year of Forests', which was chosen to coincide with the United Nations initiative of the same name.

I will incorporate forest themes into unique bronze sculptures which will comprise this year's aptly named 'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011'.

'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011' - three waxes ready for bronze casting - a
The first three waxes have been individually sculpted and delivered to the foundry: two black bear skulls and one wolf skull. Each wax has been created as a unique sculpture, in a one-of-one 'edition'.

The first black bear employs a red oak theme, the second a birch bark theme, and the wolf a pine beetle track set.

I'll be creating more as the year progresses, so stay tuned.

'Silvi-Skullpture Series, 2011' - three waxes ready for bronze casting - b
Sculpting wax is an art unto itself. It has properties which allow: carving (like ivory or antler), melting and fusing (like metal), smoothing and addition (like clay or paint).

You may notice that the wax is differently coloured. The red wax is the purest casting wax and most brittle. The darker waxes have been through the burn out process at least once and contain sprue wax in combination with the casting wax, making for a softer, stickier more malleable wax.

Once the bronzes return from the foundry, I will carve them again, refining existing detail and adding the final design elements and embellishments, before applying the patina and finish.

I have decided to create these sculptures to stand alone without a base, or to hang on a wall with a sturdy nail or hook.


Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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

Bookmark and Share

'Dawson City Councilor Broaches', 2000 (Finished) by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)

Done! The pieces are finished to a satin sheen with 1200 grit sandpaper. I considered using polish, but decided against it in this case. A higher polish on these small carvings would cause them to vanish when photographed by tourists visiting Dawson City, or when the Councillors are having their portraits taken.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches, 2000 - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
In the final phase, the carvings were refined, details and the gold nuggets were added, then sanded using the Dremel, with a sanding attachment I fashioned. Several years ago, T-BO (see link on Links page), taught me how to make this attachment, while he was attending the Great Northern Arts Festival, Inuvik.

First, take a nail (1/8" dia), cut off the head, then cut a slit into the end. Tear a small rectangle of sandpaper from a commercial sheet, fold it in half lengthwise and insert into slit. Install assembly into the Dremel, and presto, instant sanding wheel. The beauty of this system for rotory sanding is that you can change the grits easily and when the paper wears out, it can be replaced cheaply in seconds.
(mammoth ivory tusk carving, mammoth ivory tusk sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Dawson City Councilor Broaches' (Phase 3) by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)

Refining as I go, it is interesting to make some comparisons between this phase and the last.

I have gone off track a little on faces of the mammoth and the wolf. Also, I have lost a little of the overflowing nature of the water coming out of the gold pan. The pattern behind the caribou is a little distracting, particularly the head - I will simplify the area and clean up the lines on the mountain.

Though it is not visible in the pic, the background behind the wolf and raven is a book, symbolizing the paper nature of First Nation life today. They have been in the midst of negotiating land claims and self government agreements for the last three decades, and now face the complexities of living with those agreements.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - phase3 - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The small burrs used for this portion are from my trusty neighbourhood dentist. I find it a little difficult to control the tools to achieve the level of modeling that I am after, but I will use a magnifying lamp for the finishing work. I have also renewed my supply of smaller Dremel carbide burrs. Missing the smallest carbides has been a handicap, but they should come in handy now for the final details and edges.

For the final phase, I will finish the shapes, apply the surface textures and then polish. They should be done within the next week. Dawson City has chosen not to mount the broaches at this time. The cost is far greater than I imagined, but no searching for a substitute mounting method has born fruit. A local goldsmith will mount the broaches when funds become available.
(mammoth ivory tusk carving, mammoth ivory tusk sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Dawson City Councilor Broaches' (Phase 2) by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)

I have roughed out all of the broaches, some a little more than others.

The First Nations Broach will feature a running wolf and flying raven, indicating the hectic pace of life for most FN's today. With pressing land claim and self government issues, I may make the background of this broach into a book, indicating the paper nature of much of contemporary FN life.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - phase2 - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The carving is basic relief work, with 1/8" bits and smaller. The ivory is a wonderful medium, since it is consistent throughout and allows for high relief and wonderful detail.

The broaches were very difficult to photograph with my digital camera. Please excuse the slight blurriness, since the focal length on the camera was not quite short enough for the purpose. I also tried inverting the broaches to heighten the shadows, but that created a bizarre image when the pics were turned right-side up. It gave the illusion that each carving was reversed - the highest points of relief appeared to be the lowest and vice-versa. I rephotographed everything right-side-up and the results are below.
(mammoth ivory tusk carving, mammoth ivory tusk sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'Dawson City Councilor Broaches' (Beginning) by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)

The City of Dawson has commissioned five mammoth ivory carvings to be set by a jeweler as broaches or pins.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - start - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The first mammoth ivory broach (above) will represent Beringia - the land mass that opened up during the last ice age accross the Bering Sea, allowing the passage of people, mammoths, and other ice age fauna. Dawson was located at the tip of Beringia and was not glaciated. That is why there are so many ice age remains in the Dawson area, including mammoth ivory, waiting to be discovered by the placer miners. The drawing I have chosen for this carving is by Renaldino, a talented Yukon artist who specializes in portraying Beringia.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - start - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The second mammoth ivory broach (above) will represent the Yukon First Nation (Han) located in the Dawson area. Council chose to represent their relationship with the First Nation through the portrayal of a wolf and raven, symbols of the clan or family structure. Since I am not a FN artist, I will not use their symbology in my representation of the wolf and raven, but will carve something in my own style.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - start - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The third mammoth ivory broach (above) will represent the new park formed just north of Dawson on the Dempster Highway, Tombstone Park. The formation of the park is a first in the Yukon and is an effort to begin to preserve for all time key bioregions in the Yukon. Kudos to the Yukon Government for concluding an historic and farsighted arrangement! Within the park, the Porqupine Caribou Herd has part of its wintering grounds, so I will try to carve a caribou in the foreground.

Dawson City Councilor Broaches - start - by Shane Wilson (carved mammoth ivory tusk)
The fourth mammoth ivory broach (above) will represent the midnight sun as viewed from the "Dome", a mountain viewpoint above Dawson City. The midnight sun is a remarkable phenomenon in the north. Many travel to the area around June 21 each year to witness the sun that does not set. It approaches the horizon then climbs again into the sky. The carving will include something of the vista from the Dome, looking north, and a time-lapsed view of the sun in its course.


The fifth and final mammoth ivory broach (above) will represent the raison d'etre of Dawson City. Gold! The carving will be of a gold pan from which will flow a river of gold. Inside the centre of the pan are the hills of Dawson, from which the gold bearing rivers flow. I may even add a few flecks of the yellow ore for interest!
(mammoth ivory tusk carving, mammoth ivory tusk sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

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

Bookmark and Share

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

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

LINKS: Work in Progress Slide Shows: Centre, Left Antler, Right Antler
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share

'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)

Bookmark and Share