Notes From the
By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans
and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving
just a couple good topics this issue and then a blast from the
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?
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
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,
Blessings and Peace,
My books are for sale at: http://wwwoodcarver.com/Books/index.html
46 Harvard Cres,
Joe Dilett added...
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.
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552
(815) 498-9290 phone
(815) 498-9249 fax
[business web site]
['Ask Joe' column]
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!
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'
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
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
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.
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
Other handy sites:
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'
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
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
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.
I just went to my Dogpile search engine and typed in 'drawing
horses'. This is what I got.
by By Suzanne Jessup (sebocat
at gci.net) a great instructional web site. There is lots
of pictures to measure those relationships.
This site is less detailed but also good to see the basic structure.
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.
This site is an on-line manual that can be printed for a cost.
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552
(815) 498-9290 phone
(815) 498-9249 fax
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.
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.
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
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
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'
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.
For information regarding the various email
lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion
Files, or click the links below.
Woodcarver's List - Woodcarvers' Porch - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarving
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