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Introducing the Virtual Carving Studio Project

In my copious spare time,  I occasionally ponder new and different ways to support and engage the readers of the Carvers’ Companion and Woodcarver Online Magazine.  During one such pondering, it occurred to me that setting up a shop or studio is a task that almost every carver undertakes at some point, occasionally with input from a few carving friends, a chapter in a beginning carving book or a magazine article.   Even then,  the best magazine or book article is just the ideal studio for the individual that owns that studio!

To the best of my knowledge,  no one has attempted to utilize the collective experience and resources of a large group of carvers to design and equip a shop or studio – and that, my friends, was the genesis of the Carvers’ Companion’s newest project:  the Virtual Carving Studio (VCS).

The purpose of the Virtual Carving Studio project will be to tap the carving collective to design and virtually equip a studio or shop, complete with functional space plans and suggested lists of tools and equipment.   This will provide a freely available resource for any carver to utilize in the future.  If you are interested in say, adding a paint and finishing area to your shop,  the VCS will be the perfect place to look for recommendations on size, placement, fixed and movable equipment, supplies and more.  If you are building a new shop or studio from scratch,  you can mix and match the various functional areas to your particular carving style, space and needs. The VCS will include suggested space, tool and equipment lists for the newbie and novice woodcarvers. 

We will accomplish this project through a series of brain storming sessions, each focused on a single topic.   We will refine and select from all the  ideas and suggestions collected in each session, then move on to the next braining storming topic.

For example,  the very first brain storming session will focus on defining the functional areas of the VCS – that is, what are the things we want to do in the studio. .  In the real world,  most of us do more than one function in a space, but remember,  we are designing a virtual studio -  we can design an individual space or alcove for each separate functional area!

In every brain storming session,  we are going to want to hear from carvers with a variety of preferred styles;   for example,  a mantle carver may have space and equipment needs much different from a fish carver, bird carver or caricature carver.   We will need suggestions from anyone whose carving style demands specific needs in space or equipment.

During the brain storming period, every possibility is fair game – there are no bad ideas and no ideas are too far out.   Even an outlandish suggestion may trigger other ideas that may prove of value.  Also remember that no ideas are to be judged during brain storming,  If discussions ensue on the Woodcarver List or any other list serv,  please remember to flame not.

The first session will extend over a one to two week period,  to give lots of folks the opportunity to participate.  That initial period will focus only on potential functions – discussions of floor plans, equipment, tools, etc will be deferred to the appropriate subsequent session. 

Every carver is invited to participate, and VCS discussions are likely to occur on any of the carving-related list groups.  The start of each brain storming session will be announced in a variety of ways, including the Woodcarver List and the VCS page at the Carvers’ Companion web site.

A brain storming submission form is now available on the VCS home page.   While the Woodcarver List and other carving lists will be monitored for suggestions during the brain storming periods, the web submission form will be the best way to ensure your ideas and suggestions are included for in the pool of material

The  entire VCS process may take up to several months to complete, as there will be a number of different brainstorming session.  The initial design plan is outlined below:

  1. Brainstorm the functional spaces, that is, what are the things we might want to do in the Virtual Studio.  Remember, in a brainstorming exercise, there are no wrong ideas, suggestions or questions.
  2. Review and select the functional spaces for the VCS .
  3. Brainstorm the relationships between the functional spaces; that is, what spaces need to be next to or near one another, or which should NOT be next to other spaces
  4. Finalize the spatial relationships and product graphic (not a floor plan)
  5. Brainstorm non-fixed equipment for each functional space (one space at a time), such as wood processing equipment, free-standing benches, mallet and hand tool assortments, power carving equipment, sharpening equipment, computer and video equipment, reference materials, life safety equipment, etc
  6. Finalize non-fixed equipment selections.  
  7. Brainstorm the fixed equipment needed to support all this stuff in each functional space: cabinets, counters, wood storage, etc
  8. Finalize fixed equipment selections
  9. Produce initial space plan(s)
  10. Obtain feedback on initial space plan(s)
  11. Based on feedback, produce final space plan(s) and equipment lists
  12. Possibly - produce 3-d virtual studio tour

Review and selection of submissions will be undertaken by the Woodcarver Online Magazine staff with the assistance of the Woodcarver List Advisory Team and other experienced carvers.  In some cases,  on-line survey forms may be utilized to obtain more input from the carving community.

The final equipment lists will not be limited to a single product;  for example, the recommended equipment list for a sharpening area may include 3 or 4 power sharpening systems, and as many manual sharpening systems. 

Anything I’ve forgotten to cover in the material above we’ll make up as we go along.

The first brain storming session begins today – click HERE to visit the new VCS pages at the Carvers’ Companion site to learn more. 

-- Matt Kelley, Editor/Owner


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