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Notes from the Net

by Pierce Pratt


"Notes from the Net" is a column compiled from a few of the email messages posted to the WoodCarver listserver. There are many good messages to choose from. So many, it is hard to choose which messages to include in this column.

Some editorial changes were necessary, but, for the most part, each message appears as originally posted and attributed to sender. If you have a favorite post or subject that you would like to appear in this column, please email me directly <fppratt@ppco.com>



From: Will Sharp <bsharp@gvn.net>

When you have finished painting for the day, apply a little Vaseline to your bristles to reshape them. The Vaseline will help to preserve the bristles and allow the brush to retain its shape. Store your brushes vertically in a jar, glass, or can, with the tips pointing up.


From: Mike Frakes <mfrakes@okc.btg.com>

I just found out about a great process of painting woodcarvings that give them an antique look. Water your acrylic paint down to a thin consistency (usually 3 parts paint and one part water) and paint your carving. When dry, sand the carving and apply two or three coats of Danish oil. Next, apply one coat of clear wax and let dry for approximately one hour before buffing. Apply a coat of dark wax, and after one hour drying time buff it out. This process is very forgiving since you can very easily remove the darker wax with a little mineral spirits on a clean cloth.


From: Mike Wells <MWells0052@aol.com>

If you are looking for a wax that can be applied over driftwood, try Watco liquid wax. I use it on almost all of my carvings. It comes in a dark and natural finish, satin or gloss. I use the satin finish, usually the darker shade.


From: Tony Wispinski <woodchuk@telusplanet.net>

I have tried many different finishes for Balsam Poplar or Cottonwood bark carvings but the one I like the best is just two coats of a low lustre varnish. It is just amazing to see the grain pop out when the varnish is applied. Oils will not easily penetrate the bark fibre as the bark is non porous. The bark fibre does not require a sealer.

From: Michael Sadkin <michaellow@worldnet.att.net>

I do a lot of bark carving and discovered that if you load up your buffing wheel with Tripoli buffing compound and apply it to the carving, it takes on a nice finish. Tripoli is on the brown side but it seems to enhance the bark very nicely. I only buff the carved parts and sometimes put some on a tiny cotton wheel to apply with my Dremel. The carving can be gone over with a clean buffing wheel if desired.

From: Dick Allen <rja1@PioneerPlanet.infi.net>

Use clear wax on a shoe polish brush. For color enhancement, load the brush with clear wax and then touch the brush to a shoe wax of the desired color and apply to the bark. For lighter colors, use acrylic then the clear wax. Otherwise, seal the bark with a clear finish. Try the polish on an extra piece to see the results and how well you might like it.


From: Ron Eakins <carvalot@gte.net>

I first started carving wax when I found that most clays would not hold fine detail. I now use pure wax for small carvings and a combination of wax and clay for larger carvings. I do the fine detail in wax and the bulk of the figure in clay. It is more economical and the clay is easier to shape.

You can buy "carving wax" in three types: Green - cannot be flexed, Purple - some flexibility, and Blue - 1/8" thickness will bend 90 degrees. They can all be sawed, filed, and carved. The wax comes in bars, disks, tubes and slabs.


From Jo Craemer <Jo_Craemer@prodigy.net>

Here's a procedure for painting "swamp" grass on copper strips that works just fine for me:

1. Form the grass out of thin strips of 40 gauge copper. I place the thin strips on a piece of leather, and use a dental tool to "emboss" the center vein and small parallel side veins. Big grass - more detail. Small grass - just the center vein.

2. Either paint them separately, or pre-assemble them into soldered or glued bundles.

3. To prep for painting, I clean ALL traces of oil (from my fingers) off the metal by either dipping the "grass" into acetone or by brushing acetone on it generously. I use thin cotton gloves or tweezers to handle the metal from that point on.

4. When the acetone evaporates, I spray paint them with WHITE bare metal primer. Rustoleum seems to adhere very well to the copper or brass, and I have very little problem with the it chipping or peeling off later on. Using a WHITE base coat makes the colors you apply appear brighter and more true, especially when applying in thin washes. I like using washes because I tend to get more realistic shading, rather than with a monochromic green or brown.

5. Let the Rustoleum dry overnight.

6. Paint with whatever acrylic paint you want. Pure acrylic, such as Liquitex or Hyplar is transparent, and can be used to build up layers of color in thin washes. Acrylic/Gouache combination paint, such as Jo Sonja is much more opaque and will usually cover in one coat. When using Jo Sonja, I usually use an airbrush because it's quick and leaves a velvety-smooth texture. Jo Sonja paint takes a few weeks to "cure". If you put on more than one coat before the first is thoroughly dry it might start to lift off.

Thank you, Pierce Pratt

email:fppratt@ppco.com, (918)661-9703, fax(918)661-0243

slowmail:F.P. Pratt, 1290G Plaza Office Bldg., Bartlesville, OK 74004