Monday, June 02, 2014

lay a good foundation

To hand carve a sphere, follow the advice of Otto Salomon from the theory of Educational Sloyd, "lay a good foundation."

Of course he was not talking about wood carving but rather about getting students off to a good start. It is the same however, in carving a sphere. Using a knife, it is difficult to carve a sphere unless you do some careful layout first, and even then, at some point all your markings will be cut away, and you will be forming by the rack of the eye and by touch. The markings serve as a starting point. I am carving this ball from basswood. It would be easier if it was green basswood rather than fully dry, but dry wood holds its shape while wet wood will shrink across the grain and distort the final shape.

You can see the progression in the photos above. A hand carved sphere will not have the same surface qualities as one done on the lathe. In a way hand carved spheres are more interesting, as each facet is cut with a sharp knife. It leaves no doubt that it was hand made, and I suspect that when Friedrich Froebel made balls for gift number 2, that they looked something like what I've carved, though of better quality. He would likely have had more practice than I. He may have sanded the finished ball to develop a smoother surface.

After a time in the carving of a ball like this, what you see is of little value, and what you feel in its shape becomes all important. You will feel the sphere's irregularities. When you feel high spots take note of the location and remove that stock in small chips with a sharp knife.

To make this sphere was about 1 hour labor, but it could have been done more quickly and easily using green wood. I may try walnut.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, Les Brandt will be teaching day one of wood turning. I will be attending teacher meetings to plan for next year.

Make, fix and create...

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