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Notes from the Net

By: "Pierce Pratt" fppratt@expmap17.ppco.com

"Notes from the Net"

is a column compiled from a few of the email messagesposted 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: Dave Andreychek <chipps@netrax.net>

I went to a sports shop which sold trophies and bought a name plate and had them engrave it for me. Cost $6 and change.

The next day I went to my carving club and a guy there made his own engraved plate using yellow paper on which he had printed using his computer printer. He covered it with deft (I think that's what he said), trimmed the edges, and screwed it to the carving. It looked as good as mine.

From: Amy Joslyn <d.joslyn@shaw.wave.ca>

I took a popsicle stick, shortened it, painted it with gold craft paint, wrote on it with a pen and India ink, and sealed it with satin varnish. I then cut a shallow channel in the base of my carving and inserted my "home made plate".

It turned out fine and I had a lot of favorable comments. Try it. It doesn't cost much.


From: Brigette Thompson <gertie@neilnet.com>

I have been using a painting method as taught by Eldon Humphreys when I paint any of my "other half's" caricatures. This method is not exact enough for realistic facial features but works wonderfully on caricatures.

Using an acrylic paint such as those favored by tole or folk art painters, I mix a very thin wash of "Medium Flesh" and a couple of drops of "Terra Cotta" (The brand I use is Ceramacoat but all paint companies will have a similar color under a different name). This wash is very thin and applied to the unsealed wood. You can adjust the amount of terra cotta to make the flesh less pink.

Then use a wet on wet wash of "Cadmium Red Light". For highlights I use "Tomato Spice" applied in a dry brush technique to the cheeks, nose, eyelids and very lightly on the fingernails and ears.

This has worked well for us and is less time consuming than other methods we have tried. I learned this method from Eldon Humphreys, an absolutely fabulous caricature carver and a heck of a nice guy to boot.

From: Richard Kellerhouse <rkeller@ibm.net>

While lamenting my inability to concoct a decent flesh tone for a face, one of the more successful carving marketers in our local club suggested:

1. If you want a decent flesh tone, stay away from the pinks and reds and go with the dull yellows and light browns.

2. Paint the carving leaving the face, hands, etc. unpainted (assuming basswood). Check out the result. Mix Linseed oil with a little mineral spirits and use that on the face, hands, etc.

From: les hastings <"hastings@gisco.net"@gisco.net>

If you are trying to paint the flesh tones in a single shot, they really need an underpainting and then washes over the top to bring them to life. This can be achieved with acrylics and with oil paints.

Suggest an underpainting of rose madder, or cad. red light, with a little white and burnt umber. When this has dried, apply very thin washes of raw sienna, white and burnt sienna (approximate percentages, 15-75-10). Allow to dry between coats with a hair dryer. Continue to build up until the desired color is achieved. If you wish to add shadowing, as around eyes and at the hairline and ears, add a small amount of ultramarine blue to the wash mix and apply.

Use two brushes, one with water only, and the other filled with the wash mix. Paint a small line of just water, where you wish the shadow to stop, then apply the wash and the shadow will blend into the water and fade out.


1. Ultramarine blue and Burnt Sienna will produce a reasonable form of black. In wash form, the ultramarine will turn the flesh color grey, and sienna will turn the flesh color warm brown. You can work these colors over and over, each time reversing the effect of the first change.

2. Why underpainting? The pink in our skin does not come from the surface, but from the underlying blood vessels. The underpainting produces this and the overpainting represents our skin with the vessels showing through.


From: Si Seifert <sseifert@mt.net>

Have been following some of the talk about stropping. Aluminum? Grocery Sacks?!! How about an old sock, or the sole of your shoe, or your dog's back?

Seriously, good leather for a strop is available free, or nearly free, right in your town if you just ask around. Discontinued leather furniture sample swatches are often available from a furniture store. How about scraps from a shoe shop, leather shop, or saddler? I have 2 good strops I made from just such materials. I've seen suggestions on the list resembling what is called an old fashioned "slikumsharp" too. The one I made started with a scrap of wood 1-in. by 3-in. by 8-in. I cut it in the shape of a paddle and contoured a handle. I then glued a piece of leather on one side, stretched a piece of innertube on the other, stapled it at the handle, stretched it over the end, and stapled it again. Then I cut a half dozen pieces of 400 grit wet/dry emery paper the same shape and stapled them onto the innertube side, (tear the top one off when it's worn out). Voila! The Slikumsharp! Carry it with you wherever you go. Cost? Zero if you're any kind of a scrounger. Then spend some of your hard earned denerii on a small Arkansas stone and a can of oil. If your knife is sharp to begin with, this is all it'll ever need. Send the aluminum and sacks to the re-cycler. Keep your socks in the drawer and shoes in the closet.


From: Paul Mullen <upsxprm@okway.okstate.edu>

As an alternative to using an oil stain, consider using dyes. Dyes will color the wood but are more transparent than oil stains and don't obscure the figure in wood. If the wood you carved has strong figure, go with a dye. Dyes come in oil and water base. Some woodworkers are using fabric dye with good results.


From: Jim Swank <jumbo@nwark.com>

Louise Worley wrote:

> I would like to find a new antiquing method for finishing up my Santa's.
> What I'm using now seems to make them too dark...especially the faces. Does
> anyone have a method that would take care of this problem?

I use Minwax paste wax - special for dark woods. Pour some mineral spirits into the can of Minwax and either work up with a brush or let set until enough wax has dissolved to make the mixture syrupy. Brush on a thin coat, let dry, and buff off with a clean shoebrush and/or soft rag. Leaves a nice soft sheen as well as adding a little patina to highlight the low spots. You can also use a thin wash coat of raw umber, but I like the wax better.

From: Don M. Leners

I am not sure what method you are using but the method I use to give a carving the antique look is to 'paint' the carving using a wash made with the Delta Ceramcoat paints and water (50/50 mixture). To finish the piece, I use standard shoe polish/wax; usually Griffin or Kiwi (I prefer Griffin). Usually, I use the brown and umber colors. Sometimes I use the cordoba (burgundy) color to get a 'warmer' effect. On some carvings where I use lighter colors such as yellows, whites and tans I also blend the shoe polishes for lighter shades that will maintain the same tones. To do this, use the neutral color along with the brown. Melt them over a low temperature and mix them 50/50. Pour the mixture into a small tin and then set it aside to harden. This mixture will allow you to build up several coats for a low luster effect without darkening the carving too much. After the wax/shoe polish has dried for several hours or overnight, you can buff the sheen up a little using a standard shoe shine cloth. Over time, the polish/wax seems to harden the surface and help protect details of the carving some.


From: Edward Daly <epdaly@worldnet.att.net>

Take some packing styrofoam peanuts, and melt them in denatured alcohol until you come up with the consistency that you want. Just make sure you have tons of ventilation. A little bit goes along way and it works very well. When I say melt them I don't mean to put them to heat. Just drop the styrofoam into the denatured alcohol and they will disappear before your eyes. If not well ventilated, everything else disappears before your eyes also.


Thank you,
Pierce Pratt

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

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