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Notes From the 'Net

By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving


OK, just a couple good topics this issue and then a blast from the past.

Cambre and Casting Signs...

Alex had a question about glueing up a board for carving a sign.

At one time I carved a sign - sort of a cut out relief - of an elevated lighthouse. I did not but any initial cambre into the the pieces of basswood that were glued up for the piece (the center piece with the lighthouse and the two wings - see photos named Summit Lighthouse and Summit Lighthouse Painted in carving album at http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?username=abisso&x=19&y=15 ) and the wings have badly warped outwardly. I also did not seal the back which I think also contributed to the bad warping.  Now I plan to recarve the sign, this time as a complete relief carved panel that will be approximately 24" wide and 26" tall and I have conflicting thoughts about how to glue up the panels. Although I would like to be able to use the original wood carving for the outdoor sign, I am thinking that even with building in cambre, sealing, etc. there will still be some warping and weathering of the wood (sign is exposed to harsh weather and afternoon/evening sun). Therefore I am thinking about keeping the carved sign for inside use and doing a mold and cast of it for the outdoor sign.

Here are my questions:

1. If gluing up the panel with the boards running the long way, how many boards/joints are recommended and what degree of cambre should be put it each?
2. If I build in the cambre, will this make doing a mold and casting more difficult because the panel might not be flat upon completion?

Discussion: My original sign was nice and flat after carving and only warped after exposure to the elements. It would have been easy to make a cast of it. Since I have almost no experience with relief-carved panels, I am concerned that after initial carving, a panel with cambre might arc up some in the middle causing some difficult in the molding and casting.
If you have any experience with doing something like this I would like to consider any advice that you might have to offer. Thanks.

Bill Judt replied with...


Adding cambre to a relief panel ONLY controls the tendency of the wood to cup as a result of the carving process. It will not control the effects of expansion, contraction a moisture changes on carving when exposed to the outdoor elements.

If the carving were hanging from a chain, rather than being mounted on a plywood backing, there would be less stress on it. A small roof over the church sign would also moderate the effects of the elements on the carved panel.

Having said that, it is also true that some woods are better suited for use as outdoor signs. Mahogany is excellent, and so is cedar.  Don't use birch or maple, for example.

About casting... remember that the BACK of the duplicated carving will be level regardless of the cambre in the master carving. This is because when you pour the moulding material into the mould, the face of the carving is facing down, and the back of the carving is facing up. The moulding material finds its own level like water in a bucket.

If you wish to make a casting of the warped carving, simple build the sides of the mould with plywood to compensated for the deflection of the back edges of the carving.

If the original carving is cupped (warped) to the carved side, don't be concerned. When the reproduction is finished, it will make little difference, since the reproduction will have a smooth and flat back.

If you wish to make a second carving 24" wide by 26" tall, used boards that are 5" wide, for a total of 25" width. This will allow
for applying cambre at four joints, and will also allow and extra inch width for the jointing process. Set your jointer fence to 91°,
as this will give you 2° cambre at each joint for a total of 8° cambre over the width of the carving. Hopefully this will give you
about 5/16" cambre or more.

Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, email me off-list, OK?

Blessings and Peace,

List Owner

My books are for sale at:
W.F. Judt,
46 Harvard Cres,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
PH: 306-373-6649
Email: bjudt at sasktel.net
Website: http://www.wwwoodcarver.com

Joe Dilett added...

Hi Alex,

There is more then one way to skin a cat. hehehe, (just had to say that for cat lovers and I'm one of them.)

I'm guessing that the initial carving would not have warped if you had sealed it on all sides and exposed it to the same moisture on all sides.

Bill Judt uses the camber method with great success. His web side has very good instructions for how much to camber using what side of the board. His system works well.

I don't use camber and compensate for the warping by alternating the grain when gluing the boards together. For me its just easer to leave my table saw or jointer set at 90-degrees.

I think that you'll have good success with either method. I would use wood that holds up better outdoors, like white oak, mahogany, cedar, catalpa, hedge, etc. Only cut about half way into the wood and no deeper tends to have less warping.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552

(815) 498-9290 phone
(815) 498-9249 fax
http://www.thecarvingshop.com [business web site]
http://www.carvingmagazine.com ['Ask Joe' column]

Trolls, Tomten, and Other Scandinavian Legends


OK, I'm breaking an unwritten rule I set for myself as editor of NFTN, and that would be not including any of my own messages here.  Well, it was an unwritten rule.  Anyway, this thread followed a little friendly back and forth between Tony Erikson and myself about my Swedish Luck Trolls not being very lucky because they're normally, in most cultures, not very nice creatures.  I countered that I carved domesticated Swedish trolls.  Anyway, what follows is a good example of some of the fun research that goes into our carvings... or in my case, should go into these carvings.

OK all. I yield. In researching my books and tales of Trolls I have found that Iceland has peaceful trolls although they do keep to themselves and are subterranean. They sleep for long periods of time and if they sleep outside they may turn to stone as can be seen by the many Troll like rock formations in Iceland. (Brian Pilkington's "Icelandic Trolls," Mal Og Menning, printed by Norhaven a/s, Viborg, Denmark) But, as advised by my Swedish cousins, Scandinavians regard trolls as bad luck. If you see a troll, dream of one or, even worse, someone sends you one, you will be cursed. There are many Scandinavian tales of all the bad that Trolls do. So please don't send one home.
So Mike, my Tomte cast a blessing upon you and remove your Evil Troll Maker plaque. In reviewing some of the Troll drawings you sure got the big nose and beady eyes right!
Tony Erickson
anton at woodakoodashooda.com

I added...

Not to beat a dead horse, but I got it from a very good source in Sweden that there are bad trolls and good trolls. This info came via Sally and David Nye who just visited Sweden this past Spring where they did fan bird research and visited friends.

On a different topic... Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sally and David who also brought back an awesome collection of tomten related postcard art which they gave to me at the NEWR. Thanks to them I have a new pattern making technique. You keep flipping through the postcards until your head is thoroughly saturated with the images, then you get deep into a carving zone (I know you've been there before), grab a good piece of basswood, sketch your idea directly on the wood, and start makin' chips. It isn't as reliable as sketches, pictures, and clay models, but it sure worked this time! Must have been tomten magic... Tony will be relieved <G>. I'll have pics real soon.

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike B.->

Then I got a gentle caution from Sally (and this is the main reason I included this thread... honest!).

Oh-h-h Mike, I should have cautioned you about the addiction of postcard collecting. (smiling) I'm happy you're enjoying the
postcards, though. Jenny Nystrom is the well-known and famous "tomte, tomten, tomtar" artist. Her son, Curt, followed in his mothers

Now for the RESEARCH subject...

Just a bit of advice for you and Tony on the "Troll" patterns. Neither David nor I have actually researched this topic. Yes, we hear about things such as good/bad Trolls while visiting foreign countries. Because of our Old World folk art research (specifically fan birds) it often overlaps into like subjects. Due to the fact that we work with museums, historians, antiquarian book stores, etc. our information is from qualified and creditable sources.

It is most important that we are respectful of the foreign cultures and their legends and customs. Make that a double on the "respect." Their legends and customs have deep meaning and, more often than not, they are derived from spiritual roots. When you understand the basis of the legends and customs you soon learn it not simply a superstition.

Also the country borders changed more often than you would think. At one time the northern half of Germany was Sweden. The
European/Scandinavian education system teaches their history thoroughly. Much better than our school system. In normal conversation they can recite dates and border changes without going to a book and looking it up. So a Swedish custom could easily be found in Germany and vice versa.

It is great to have "fun" with the Trolls but when you start designing patterns, with your name attached, to put on the internet, it is all too easy to look like the dumb American. You might consider doing a bit of research first. Most of that can be done on the net.

Just my word of caution for what it's worth.

And it was great hearing from Old Joe Brott.

Sally, my immigrant heritage is Norwegian, so my trolls, elves, tomte, etc. are U.S.'ized and fully functional good trolls.

Old Joe Woodcarving
Plattsmouth, NE
Other handy sites:
http://www.diamondd.org/ & http://www.thewoodcraftshop.com/

And yeah, I did have the last word, but...

Point taken Sally... thanks for the caution. I know traditions are taken seriously, especially after the story we heard from George at the NEWR dinner. Remember the one about the SAAB auto workers threatening a work stoppage if the stupid Americans didn't end their ad campaign about SAABs being made in Sweden by trolls?  Evidently the Swedish auto workers really took that as an insult.  George had already carved a staff with the troll design. Too bad about the controversy, it was a cute design.

Tony has suggested my trolls' "lucky" part actually came from the fact that I have a splash of Irish on me Mother's side. This came up because the one I gave him was green. OK, so in the future maybe I'll just drop the Swedish part and call them "Dumb, Mongrel American Lucky Trolls" ;-).

And don't worry about the post card collecting addiction, Yvonne says I'm way over my quota for hobbies and won't allow any more.

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike B.->

Carving a Horse, of Course


This was a good thread from the archives, and not just for horse carvings.  One of the research techniques here can be applied to other animal carvings as well.

I am hoping to do a little more carving this year than I have in the past, and my next project is a small, decorative carousel horse in the
round. I have seen lots of pictures, and I will make up a pattern based on a few of them, but I have not been able to find pictures of a horse (real or wooden) which shows the profile, and head on, so I am wondering if there is anyone here that knows the relationship between the length of the horse torso, and its width at the chest and rear hips.

If you know the relationship, or can point me to somewhere that I can find it I would appreciate it. Haven't had much luck with google.

Thanks, Lloyd
Lloyd Skeoch
Markham, Ontario
mailto:lskeoch at onramp.ca


Wilson sent the first reply...


Ian Norbury has a really good video on carving a horse head. I've been using it to help me learn to carve a carousel horse, and it's been very useful. His web site is http://www.iannorbury.com/ ...I believe it's downloadable. Hope this helps....I've been having fun teaching myself.

Wilson in Vista

Morgan had a favorite book of mine by Mary Duke Gulden.

Mary Duke Guldan has a couple of books of carving projects that include excellent patterns for horses in a variety of poses. Also look for Ken Hultgren, "The Art of Animal Drawing." It has the kinds of proportions you're looking for. Big Dog probably has the books in stock.


...And Joe Dillet's angle was the one I mentioned above could be tailored to many other projects like "drawing dogs", "drawing cats", etc.

Hi Lloyd,

I just went to my Dogpile search engine and typed in 'drawing horses'. This is what I got.

http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/farp/horses/horses.html by By Suzanne Jessup (sebocat at gci.net) a great instructional web site. There is lots of pictures to measure those relationships.

http://www.horsinaround.homestead.com/drawhorses.html This site is less detailed but also good to see the basic structure.

http://www.cpchallenge.com/lessons/BrendaBruckner/page1.html This site you can quickly get the side-view relationship of the head size to the rest of the feature sizes. Go through all the pages because it is a good instruction.

http://www.paintedcowboy.com/horses/Manual.html This site is an on-line manual that can be printed for a cost.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552
(815) 498-9290 phone
(815) 498-9249 fax

jdillett at thecarvingshop.com
http://www.carvingmagazine.com Carving Magazine web site and Readers Forum

Carol had another good book.

There is a book entitled, "Carving Horses in Wood" by Eric Zimmerman. It will give you all of the information you need to carve a horse. There are also a couple of books with many pictures of Carousel Horses. A couple are, "Painted Ponies" and "Art of the Carousel." I own all three of these books so if there is anything that you need from them, just let me know.

Carol Robertson
Huachuca City, AZ

And another book...

Another place to look... I recently purchased a book titled "HORSE CARVING" with Tom Wolfe. While it does not discuss much in general about carving horses... it does have 5 patterns, and great detailed step-by-step carving and painting instructions/pictures.

aka Purple Wood

Some first hand experience from Sandy Holder

Hi Lloyd,
I carve quite a few carousel horses and I have found that for my carving, I make the width of the carousel horses 1/4th of the body length. If the body is going to be 4 inches long from rump to chest, then the width will be 1 inch. It always seems to work out well. Horses aren't really that size but carousel animals are more fantasy than anything else although I like mine to be more real in their likeness. Also the legs I make will be 1/3 the body width, that is for the leg from the knee down, somewhat wider up near the body. Hope this helps you a little. Everyone of course does something different, but this seems to work well for me.

Evart MI

Unfortunately this was posted in 2004, so it might be too late for her class, but she might still teach them...

Lloyd, I am glad you enjoy my carvings and contact me any time, glad I could be of some help, and will be glad to help any time. In case you are in Michigan next May, I am instructing a 5 day miniature horse carousel class at the Michigan Wood Carvers Association week long seminar, it would be fun to have you in class! http://www.geocities.com/miwoodcarvers/index.html

Evart MI

OK, Gang, until next issue, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and don't be afraid to horse around once in a while.  See ya next issue.

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike Bloomquist->

Please take some time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.

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