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Notes From the Net

By Loren K. Woodard
Email Loren at woodcarver@midmo.com or visit his web site at http://www.woodcarvers-gallery.com/

Welcome once again to Notes From The Net, a compilation of tips and techniques that were shared on the several wood carving Listserves on the Internet. As is the case every month, the topics are varied and many.


Creating "Water" Splashes

For this issue, I have several good tips that were shared on the Fish Carver's List. The first is a tip on making a nice looking water splash from an acrylic lens cover for fluorescent light fixtures that was shared by Ted Richmond. I have seen Ted create his water splashes and I can assure you that they look great! Although Ted shared the tip on the list, he was quick to point out that the technique was taught to him by Rick Kennair, a taxidermist at the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships in Springfield, Illinois, in 1999.

Ted indicated that if you are interested in an easy, low cost, and non-toxic way to make a nice looking water splash try using an acrylic lens cover for fluorescent tubes. He uses a 2' x 4' sheet of the lens cover known as cracked ice, which can be purchased at most of the home improvement stores like Home Depot, etc., for about $3.00 per sheet. Cut the sheet into small rectangular pieces, say about 3" x 6" to 4" x 6". It should be noted that as you cut the material with your tin snips, it will fracture at the edges. Anchor a piece of the cut lens cover into a holding device (vice, vice grips, etc.) and take a heat source such as a heat gun used to strip paint and warm the top half of the sheet, stopping when it starts to droop. Take a pair of needle nose pliers and grasp the piece of lens cover at one of the cracks. With the other hand add more heat to the piece. As it starts to melt, pull the piece out and twist it while pulling the heat source away from the acrylic. Ted indicated that if some of the parts start to drop too much don't worry as this can be shaped correctly in the next step.

When it cools in about 4 to 5 seconds it stays in exactly that shape. Repeat with smaller cracks on the ends of the piece you just shaped and you will get the smaller 'fingers' of the splash. Move on the next major part and repeat all over again. After just a couple of times of practice, you will be able to make the parts of a realistic, non-yellowing, splash. Anchor your creations into a recessed based with your favorite 2 part epoxy glue. Ted warns that this needs to be done in a well ventilated area. It is vitally important to have reference of a fish jumping out of water and try to duplicate where the water is at the moment of time you have captured with your carved leaping fish. With a little planning you can make a great looking splash for your mount; however, be advised that the cool looking splash that you have just completed is totally illegal for IWCA competition.


Creating A Lateral Line

Another member of the Fish Carver's List explains her method of creating a lateral line for her fish when carving in Tupelo wood. Joan Lech noted that she has made a tool using a rounded soup spoon, not one that is oval shaped on the end, because it has more surface area on the end. Joan states that she cuts a small groove of about one-eight of an inch long into the front edge of the spoon, near the center. The width of the groove should be the width of the lateral line that you want. She presses the spoon into the carving. This action raises the center and lowers the sides of the lateral line and you can make them in different widths by making different sized grooves in a variety of spoons. Joan advises that this is a low cost tool that does a great job!


C02 As Air Brush Propellant

Keith Clements is great at sharing his knowledge on the Fish Carver's List. Keith explained the use of CO2 as an air brush propellant and tells us of the setup he uses for his air brush. Keith states:

CO2 is sold by the pound. So your 20 lb beverage tank will hold 20 lbs of CO2. I think the 20 lb tank is an ideal size for our purpose. The cost of filling your tank is determined by your location. Here it costs me $12.00 to fill the 20 lb tank, which will last for 8-9 months, or longer depending on its use. You can take your tank to most any welding supply business and just exchange your empty tank for a full one. Check your yellow pages under gases to see the availability in your area.

As far as gauges for your tank go, you will have to purchase a regulator for the tank. There are two types of regulators, a dual gauge, and a single gauge regulator. The dual gauge has two gauges. One gauge shows you the remaining pressure left in the tank while the other is used to control the psi, or air pressure, as it comes out of your tank. The single gauge regulator just controls the psi. While Keith uses a dual gauge regulator, it has been pointed out on the list that the single gauge regulator is all that is really required. However, the dual gauge tank will show you the remaining content in your CO2 tank.

When purchasing your regulator look closely at the gauge, make sure the gauge has the lower psi settings. Some gauges start at 20 or 30 psi, and as has been pointed out air brushing is done at the lower psi settings, most often at less than 40 psi.

You will need a CO2 regulator. It has a special fitting to connect to the C02 tank. A beverage regulator will work great. With CO2 you do not need a moisture trap as there is no moisture in CO2.

As far as connecting your air brush hose to the tank you will need to change the tank fitting to fit the size of your hose connection. I recommend taking your air brush hose with you when you purchase your regulator and just have the store, or air supply folks change the fitting for you. It takes them a matter of seconds to do it.


Making Sand Habitat

Timothy, a member of the Fish Carver's List shares his method of making sand habitant for his fish carvings. Timothy wrote that in his quest to develop a technique to create a sand texture he uses Gesso, five colors of paint, a toothbrush, the wet-on-wet technique and the wet-on-dry technique. By using colors that have high contrast, say black and white, you will add the perceived depth to a flat surface much the same way that sand texture has depth. Light and dark is why this whole method works. It looks like it has more depth than it actually does. Timothy states, "Ask a duck carver how they get depth in their bird feathers. They will tell you the same thing, the secret is in the paint."

Here is Timothy's method of creating a sand habitant.

Carve the entire sand base in the rough with the shape and waves you desire. Lightly sand to knock off the dust and loose debris. Get out that old bottle of gesso that you can't bring yourself to throw out, you know the old thick one. If you don't have one, leave the lid off a new one for about 2 days or so and mix it up with a stick whenever you think about it. Let it get real nasty and then put it on like stucco with that old one inch house painting brush you knew you were going to use for something one day. Cake it on and let it sit until it is completely dry, generally about a day or so, then sand it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper. Now what you need is a light tan coat of raw sienna and yellow ochre mixed with a lot of white and black. Basically you are mixing raw sienna and yellow ochre with a light gray. Get this really watery and paint a light wash onto the entire base. While this is wet take your toothbrush and dip it into a wash of black and apply it to the base by flicking your finger across the bristles./ Do the same thing with white and then do it with a wash of yellow ochre. The spatters will blend with one another. Let them dry completely. Next mix a wash of black, making it a little thicker, so that when you test it with the toothbrush it leaves small black dots, and apply it to the base. Let it dry completely then do the same with white. Let the white dry completely then do the same with yellow ochre. Let dry, then do the same with raw umber. After these 5 basic colors are applied you may use them again until you get your desired hue or tone. They will all work and look great because they are all presently on your base. When you get your desired effect, let the paint dry entirely. I'm sure you will be pleased with the results.


"Dewhiskering" Butternut Carvings

For the members that have been on the Woodcarving List for several years, you will have seen a post similar to the following presented in the past by Joe Dillett; however, this technique is good and deserves repeating for those who have not yet heard of this mthod for dewhiskering your carvings.

Joe advises:

The method I would use to finish stylized butternut carvings is to dewhisker the wood by wetting and force drying it with a heat gun, sanding between operations. Butternut responds very well to this process.

Selecting the grit to begin sanding with depends on how many tooling marks and how much character you want to leave in the finished work. Using 100 grit sandpaper will remove all signs of tool marks and much of the character. If you want to keep almost all your tool marks you can start with 400 grit emery paper.

As an example, you might start off with 150 grit sandpaper only in those areas where that were difficult to finish out with your tools. Then perhaps use 220 grit sandpaper over the entire area you want stylize. Then wet the entire carving with water and dry with a towel. Very quickly, before the swollen fibers have a chance to shrink, force dry the carving with a heat gun or hair dryer. The carving will now feel rough because of the fibers raised by the water were dried so fast that they were unable to shrink back to their natural size. Using 400 grit emery cloth, smooth the entire carving. When the entire carving feels as smooth as glass, wet it again and force dry it quickly. The carving will again feel rough. Smooth it with 400 grit emery cloth again and then use 600 grit emery until it feels as smooth as glass. Then wet it again and force dry it quickly. Repeat this process, of wetting and sanding with 400 grit and 600 grit emery cloth until it feels smooth as glass. Now it is ready for a nice finish like a wipe-on oil that will enhance the grain structure.

Dewhiskering will tend to slightly seal the pores of the wood making the grain and the finish look very even. This is important in a stylized piece, to make the transition of end grain to flat grain almost invisible. Your end grain will appear to look like flat grain.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite #3
Somonauk, IL. 60552


Use Of Stains On Basswood

Vic Hamburger wrote to the Woodcarving List answering a question concerning the use of stains on basswood. Vic advises us that Basswood is a very porous wood that soaks up stain quickly but not uniformly. Vic suggested that Minwax makes a wood conditioner that you brush the wood before staining it. The conditioner helps the basswood accept the stain more evenly. End grain is particularly tough to regulate but the conditioner seems to help it take the stain more evenly. Vic warns that you should carve something simple, say an egg shaped object or something with end grain from basswood and try the product before using it on your prized carving. Like Vic, I have used this product and I too think it helps tremendously. The product can be found almost everywhere than Minwax stains are sold.


Copyrights - The Continuing Saga

There have been many discussions concerning copy rights on all of the wood carvings lists. Susan Irish deals with copyright issues on a continual basis and shares her knowledge of the copyright laws with us.

Susan states:

I have been through the copyrighting process through the Library of Congress quite a few times now with my Limited Edition Prints. Plus my publisher also has a copyright filing that needs to be done for our instruction books. As a newbie artist years ago I was surprised to learn that by the standards of the Department of Copyright Registration an artist needs only to change seven (7) points of any existing design for their work to be considered new and unique. Some of the basic points they use for the seven differences are size, orientation, color, placement, finishing edges, additions, subtractions.

Now that means ... an artist can take your white tail deer scene, let's say two deer running through a meadow, jumping a fallen log with a distant forest background and:

1. Change the size: If the original design was 9" by 12" then extend the sides by 2" each into a 9" x 16", stretching the trees at the side of the design.
2. Change the orientation: Simply mirror the image so the new deer runs to the left instead of to the right.
3. Change the color: Make your summer beige deer into autumn rutting red.
4. Change the edges: Lets add a simple leaf border.
5. Change the placement: Put the back deer in front and the front deer in back.
6. Add one point to the horns of the buck.
7. Subtract a few small branches from the fallen log.

Now all through this you can copy those deer, the grass, the trees, and the sky line for line, color for color! But if you have done the things above your 'new and original work' is copyrightable. Is it original, NO. Is it moral, NO. Is it legal, YES.

That's why some ad agency can take Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving dinner and use it on their commercials. They simply make seven small changes in the scene ... Everyone knows it's Norman Rockwell but the ad agency is no longer under legal obligation to the artist.

In our state, Maryland, we add to this little conundrum the fact that even if an artwork is copyrighted in the United States and registered as All Rights Reserved for international protection, the State of Maryland can use any art that they want without notification to the artist, without royalties to the artist, and without credit to the artist. They can take your painting, make coffee cups from it with their departments logo on the back, sell the whos-its out of the item for monies to support their department, and you the artist have no legal rights to either stop their action or be re-reimbursed for your work. AHHH!

Quiet side note here: Any images, patterns, or WebPages should carry both statements for protection on the internet. Our reads as follows:

Copyright Notice: This Web Site is fully and completely protected by International Copyright Law. All images, articles and content are fully Copyrighted and may not be reproduced, copied, used in any manner what so ever, nor appear or be used on any web site without the express written consent of the owner.
Copyright, L. S. Irish, 1997-2002, All Rights Reserved

Copyright protects the owner only under U.S. laws and needs to include the copyright symbol, the person's name, and the years of existence. All Rights Reserved protects the owner internationally.

We, Mike and I, have found our Web Pages literally copied and pasted to other sites over the years, word for word, image for image, of course with our names and web address removed. However, since our site is clearly copyrighted we can have these offense quicklys removed from the web.


Carving Patterns Online
Classic Carving Patterns By L.S.Irish

As always, I hope that you have found something in this information that will be useful to you in your carving endeavors. One of the best places to find additional information concerning woodcarving is the archives found on The Carvers' Companion. Take some time and browse these web pages. I'm certain that you will find them more that just worthwhile. (WOM back issue HERE: Woodcarver Resource Files HERE)

Until the next issue, keep carving and strive to make each carving your best one yet!

Loren Woodard

Please take some 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 Resource Files, or click the links below.

Woodcarver's List - Woodcarvers' Porch - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarver's List