Notes From the
By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans
and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams
Brrrr! Suddenly it's snowin' again and, as
usual, I don't have any of my carvings done in time for Cristmas.
One nice thing about the cold weather coming again... no guilt complex
about carving all day while there's yard work to do. Well, at
least not this far North. Hope you got your list of carving
goodies off to Santa. You have been good, haven't you <G>..
another log on the fire and let's look at some
Notes From The Net. No, not the carving you think you
messed up, another log. Set it aside and step away
from the carving. There aren't enough BTUs there and you could
save it later.
Oh Say Can You See.... Carving
George's question has us revisiting
osage orange as a carving wood....
My names George, and I'm a newbie carver located in Cleveland, Ohio.
I've only done some simple projects, mostly basswood items, and have
been wanting to work on new ideas. One of my favorite things thus far
has been warlking sticks (mostly woodspirit type carvings,) and
recently, a friend gave me a piece of osage orange in the shape of a
perfect walking stick that he told me to do with what I wanted. Well,
the piece has been aging for quite awhile (5 years) and is hard as a
rock. I was thinking of trying a draw knife then doing some sanding to
get to the darker wood. I had no intention to dull my carving knives
down on this piece, so I was thinking of just sanding and polishing and
putting a good finish on it.
Any feedback or ideas? I could use some creative input.
Using a dremel is more precise than a sanding
stick. It should deal with the hardness. Wear a dust mask.
Steve came in a close second to
second Bob's recommendation...
Do you have a dremel tool or something like it? You might consider
power carving it.
Joe Dillett recommends hand tools
Osage Orange is hard and does tend to dull the tools quickly,
especially if your sharpening angle is below 22 degrees. I have carved
it and yes I did needed to sharpen my tools during and after the
process. It was well worth the journey. I love getting a feel of the
wood and for me chisels are the best way to do that. At first osage
orange makes you think that it's fighting back but after you get into
it you realize its hard abrasive qualities are its true value, which is
the strength. I have found no way to keep the bright gold color. It
will turn brown with time.
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552
Peter adds first hand experience from
Like Joe said, you won't
keep the yellow colour. If you want to remove the sapwood the quickest
way would be a sanding disc in a small angle
grinder. Joe, I have carved osage orange and don't consider it hard.
Try a tool on that maler I gave you and you will see what we deal with
Woodcarvings and Wildlife Sculptures
Joe replies to Steve....
I know we are blessed here in America to have plenty of delicious
softer carving wood. You folks in Australia got to be tough to carve
the hard timber that grows there.
When turning Osage orange on a lathe I need to cover my hand to keep
from getting burned, stiffen up the angle of my turning tool and still
need to sharpen every few minutes. I can't imagine turning that maler.
That's awesome hard stuff and very hard on tools.
I hope you are all feeling better. We sure would love for you to come
back and visit us. If you do we have your bedroom still waiting for
you. You're welcome any time.
The Carving Shop
(Don't know about you readers,
but I'm curious about "maler" now)
Copyrights and Carving, Part
Part I was started by Larry's
question and appropriatetly we begin Part II with his summary, which I
think was meant to put a looong thread to bed, but...
Good morning all.
I have read with great interest the e-mails on this subject and have
placed them in a folder for future reference. I have gone to the Govt.
site and read many documents. I read the statement, All rights
reserved, in the front of the mags.
Joe Dillet said woodcarvers offer their "materials as instruction" and
I treasure that and understand.
Ivan Whillock said seek permission.
Being made aware of the term "derivative" the assumption had been made
that if one is given patterns and complete carving and painting
instructions Permission to carve a derivative sculpture had been given.
After reading these replies, one must assume that these are for
instruction and practice only and in my journey that is how they shall
I dearly love to carve caricature animals and wood spirits in canes and
walking sticks. It is very difficult not to carve one which is
extremely similar toones that others have carved. Again thank you for
John brings an observation....
I want to thank you for asking about copyright issues. It's a subject
that a lot of people just are not aware of...also one that can be
confusing. Years ago Wood Magazine offered a pattern for a Santa.
Several issues later, because somebody asked about using that pattern
to carve Santas for sale, the editors published a statement that went
something like this, " If the pattern was one that was generated by the
magazine itself, then copies could be made for sale. If it was one
submitted by a private individual, then permission from that individual
was needed." I believe after that it was clearly stated in the magazine
which designs could be carved for sale.
You can never go wrong by asking.
See Marcia's wood carvings
Marcia, I know I'm going to get
shot down in flames for this but I'm saying this because I believe. I
see copyrighted designs that are based on designs almost 2,000 years
old. Pictish, Celtic whatever. For what its worth I'll use the
originals, the ones carved on stones over much of Scotland, when and if
I choose. Originals? Can any of us in all honest create an original
design? I have my doubts. If a triangle is used , a circle a zig zag,
then the patterns originality - to me- is iffy.
Ivan had this in part
one "Part I" but I left out what he was replying to...
I recently paid for a book of patterns, only to find they were not
geometrically accurate. When I contacted the author she advised me that
these were only meant as guides and were made before CAD. I've no
problem with that but the time I wasted blaming myself of an error
could have been better spent. As a beginner I realise others maybe
professionals trying to make a living . In no way am I dismissing the
time and skill they need rewarded for.
In reading the emails I've come to
two firm conclusions: "Everything is original" and "Nothing is
Some people define original as "different" and argue that no two things
are ever alike, even if you try to make them so, thus, EVERYTHING is
original. We've had several writers express that point of view.
On the other hand, God was the originator of everything, and therefore
everything is a copy of something and therefore NOTHING is original.
We've had several email writers express that view.
It proves one of the curiosities of language: you can frame issues to
Yes, but . . .
Trouble is, the "everything is original" argument doesn't work as a
defense when Disney threatens a lawsuit over your carving of Mickey
Mouse. Hobbyists might do fine with the everything is original
philosophy--until they try to sell. Then they should know that there
are rules that don't accept that concept.
Nor does the "nothing is original" argument work when artists are
trying to protect their right to make a living on their work. "Disney
copied God's creation of a mouse, therefore I'm justified in copying
Disney." "Every artist copies something" won't work in court either,
nor in art shows that demand "original work."
New sellers need a workable understanding of the concept of "original
work" that would respect the creations of others and would not get
carvers into legal trouble for copying.
A workable definition of "originality" for artists has to lie somewhere
between the "nothing is original" and the "everything is original"
Ivan Whillock Studio
122 NE 1st Avenue
Faribault, MN 55021
So what's up ? when I use Your book or Tom Wolf or Who ever and teach
others to do that type of carving let say on the lawn chairs or
caricatures ???? I use several pictures from differend books and
mags. Is this allowed ? or is this wrong ???
You are invited to check out my website..
Mush from Maine replies...
have some king of caveat or notice as to how many copies of a pattern
may be made "for personal use". Technically, once you reproduce that
pattern for use in a class or in any situation that involves making a
profit from them, it does constitute a violation.
Jan, how fast can you run? :)
Marcia (aka Mush)
At this point there was a request
(plead) to "get back to carving and off laws", Ivan replied
guys, but to carvers venturing into selling, this thread can be very
moderates and defends the importance of the thread...
Years ago, had I been privy to the thread that just took place, I might
have been saved some grief and embarrassment. Unfortunately, I was not
given such a "heads up" on copyrights and thus we used some pictures in
a cut and paste catalog that we just assumed were OK to use. They
weren't. We got sued.
So, whenever someone talks of going into carving on a commercial level,
I urge them to get acquainted with the copyright laws. Lawsuits may
happen rarely, but they DO happen. Holders of copyrights have the right
to protect their property, and so anyone who sells creations that are
based on other people's materials should understand that it could have
Back then, had we been more aware of copyright law we could have
avoided some grief and ill will. Thus, whenever I can, I encourage
anyone who wants to sell to become informed to avoid those types of
My advice comes from "been there!"
Ivan Whillock Studio
Trella gives his take...
Thank you for sharing your experience. You have a way with words and a
gift of kindness.
I don't think there is a carver around who has not considered the
possibility of copyright infringement for some reason or another.
My fears of being sued ended when I started using totally original
resources for all my carvings. By this I mean photos that came from my
camera, drawings that came from my hand. I was simply so frustrated
with using the photos and resources of others with the constant worry
and nagging conscience that accompanies it. Even if copyright
infringement was not an issue in a particular design, finding a
suitable carving/photo resource in the library or on the internet was
so frustrating, time consuming and unprofitable that it was easier to
take the time to take my own photos and draw my own patterns.
I might sound like a broken record, but allow me to repeat a previous
posting or two with the following:
Admittedly, not everyone can learn to draw, but those with enough
aptitude would do well to extend their drawing skills so they depend
less on the work of others. Digital photography is one of the best
tools for those who wish to begin creating their own patterns. Digital
photos (enlarged on a color photocopier) coupled with a light table
(even a window) allow you can
trace most anything and end up with an accurate line drawing. From
there you can compose your carving pattern.
I train my students likewise to use all original resources in their
relief carving. So they bring photos and other resources into the
studio which we then use to build an original design. If you wish to
see some of the results, go to: http://wwwoodcarver.com/StudentCarvings/index.html
Of course, if you do not intend to SELL your carvings, the issue of
copyright infringement fades away. But even if that is the case, a poor
carving that is original is still better than a great carving that is a
Blessings and Peace,
46 Harvard Crescent,
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
bjudt at sasktel.net
(As for me reproducing the
thread here and taking up so much space... what Bill an Ivan said)
This has been
a very interesting and enlightening discussion. Thanks for the question
and all the wonderful responses. I have a feeling that there are a LOT
of carvers out there like myself, who are not particularly "artistic"
(or have themselves convinced that they're not because they can't draw
well). So we tend to work from patterns of some sort. Some of those are
patterns from magazine articles and some are from books.
I have a feeling most of us rarely sell our work, but instead give it
away as gifts. When we DO sell it may be an occasional one off. In both
of these instances I doubt anyone would object - even though we may be
technically stepping over the line of the copyright law. The reality is
that the economic loss suffered by the original copyright holder is so
negligible that it makes not sense for them to carry out a legal action
- though they might ask you to desist. Morally - if you didn't claim
the design as your own I don't think you've done anything wrong.
Likewise, when a carver steps up to displaying their works (on a
website) - as long as they give fair credit for the design and are
simply showing it as an example of their "carving" skill or
accomplishment - again, no harm no foul. If they DID, however, try to
imply or claim the design as their own - then morally (and legally)
they are crossing the line. Even though the original copyright holder
might not pursue them legally because the damages don't justify it.
Now, when a carvers moves into the realm of selling carvings -
especially multiples of a given design, you really ought to write the
original copyright holder and get explicit permission to do so. Both
morally and legally - even though they STILL might not pursue you due
to the legal cost involved. Heck - if you're below the radar and not
advertising the work on the web, they very well might not even be aware
of your activity. But morally - it's just the right thing to do, and
legally - the safe thing to do.
Now Larry raised an interesting point in his last email: "I dearly love
to carve caricature animals and wood spirits in canes andwalking
sticks. It is very difficult not to carve one which is extremely
similar to ones that others have carved."
Using the woodspirit example: yes, there have been SO many versions
done, in many instances copies of copies of copies etc, that it can be
very difficult to carve one without some serious similarities to the
myriads of others. However, as long as you DIDN'T take someone else's
EXACT pattern and carve it following their STEP BY STEP instructions so
as to be identical (or VERY close to it), I doubt you'd run afoul of
copyrights. The woodspirit has become a pretty generic subject matter.
Even so - there ARE carvers out there who have developed a very
recognizable "style" or look even for this common subject matter. I
would point to Shawn Cipa as a prime example. Possibly Greg Wilkerson
or Colin Partridge as other examples.
To me, the best way to avoid this and to develop our own "voice" as a
carver, would be to take photo's (with permission) of any individuals
we come across with strong features that might make a good model for a
spirit face. From that photo you can use a photo editing package or
hand sketching to create your own unique "pattern" that you CAN claim
as your own work and design. You can modify the expression or various
details of that face to create your own variations (derivatives) from
YOUR pattern rightly claim a copyright to that work. That's what I
aspire to for my own work eventually. But for now, like most out there,
I am learning from articles and other's examples on the web. So I
wouldn't claim any as my own design, nor would I seek to produce them
in quantities to sell unless I sought permission.
That's my take on it anyway.
asks about another angle...
Here is an added twist....
What about if you see a great picture on a calendar or a greeting card?
I've heard from a master scrimshander that if you change the medium,
like art from the two mentioned, to say a carving or ivory scrim, that
you are legal.
The following is what I was told by one of the country's top scrimshaw
"Altering something by 10% (or some figure) is enough to comply with
copyright. When we do scrim, we change it 100%. Artists can use
anything for a model. If you put the photo on a copier, and try to sell
the copy as the original, then you've got problems. I've been to some
of the best art museums in the world, where they allow painters to make
painted copies of masterpieces. They just can't sell them as the
As a scrimshaw artist and gunstock carver, I am faced with this all the
time. There are times when I see a great looking picture. And maybe at
that time I only want the deer, moose, etc... and then create my own
background. Not all the time but occasionally. I don't think there is
anything wrong with the concept of being inspired by a picture and then
changing it. The one thing I do when I sell a piece of scrim.... I
include a card with the information on it that "This scrim was inspired
by the Native art from Jack Hudson. Native design by Jack...scrimmed by
Steve Lankerd Sr
This statement makes it
sound like I could make resin casts of a carving done by another
artist, and as long as I change the medium, it is OK.
Doesn't sound right to me. I also heard the 10% rule, but was also told
it was hot upheld in the courts. I guess if we look long enough we can
find something to support any thing we want to support. As far as the
old masters, their copyright should have run out a long time ago...
was still more, but since my cut-n-paste muscles are starting to cramp,
I'm going to end it. For the full, unsensored version see the
archives at http://six.pairlist.net/pipermail/woodcarver/2008-June/thread.html#start
. BTW, there were no lawyers or woodcarvers harmed in the
creation of this thread. And there was no "flaming" either I would like
OK, Gang, that's all for this
issue. Keep them edges keen,
the chips piled high, and be nice to the "Jolly Ol' Elf" when he
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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