Front Cover - Issue #4
Butternut Bass by Mike Dunk
Carvers' Companion Gateway
While browsing in an exotic wood store in Toronto, Mike found a piece of butternut with marvelous grain that just cried out to be taken home. Never having carved butternut before, Mike looked around for a subject that would show off the qualities of the wood.
Waiting for a haircut one day, a drawing of a bass in an OLD fishing magazine caught Mike's eye. The barber thought the magazine had done it's duty and allowed Mike to take it home. The drawing was used to make the pattern for the carving. Wanting to have the fish portrayed in a lazy "S" shape, the topview of the pattern was laid out with the thickness of the wood as the limiting factor.
The fish is carved with the body, the back fin, the bottom anal fin and the tail all out of one piece. The remaining fins were carved and inserted. The base was carved to suggest water flowing over a "lumpy" bottom. The grass blades were carved and then soaked in hot water. When pliable, the blades were bent into position and held in place around various objects with rubber bands until dry.
The base and grass blades were finished with an oil-based product by Verethane called "Plastic Oil". It really brought out the colour in the grain of the wood. Wanting to have some contrast between the fish and the base, the Bass was finished with a water-based sealer called Fabulon. In retrospect, the piece may have been more attractive if the finishes were reversed.
(The remaining piece of butternut was used as the base for the House Sparrows on a Birch Branch carving shown in his gallery!)
Mike lives in Barrie Ontario and has been carving as a hobby for about fourteen years. His work in the Canadian Department of Defence kept him pretty busy but since taking advantage of an early retirement offer, more time can be spent on the more important (carving) things in life. Mike's primary carving interest is producing highly detailed waterfowl but he has also dabbled in figures, songbirds, relief and interpretive pieces. Mike's work can be found in collections in Canada, US and Japan.
Some sample carvings can be seen at: