This was my first experience with one of Greg Wilkerson's instructional CDs, so, except for the fact that he's a regular source of encouragement on several woodcarving lists and has a wonderful web site; this should be a fairly unbiased review. Which means this is going to be about as unbiased as my Ian Norbury reviews. Oh well, hang in there! I'm liable to blurt out something useful.
This CD is Wilkerson's
second in this series, and it's called Carving an Apache
Indian Face. Right out of the chute there's a BIG plus.
There are six steps in black-n-white right on the inside cover
of the CD describing how to open the CD on your computer, and
you gotta love Step Six, "Have fun carving!"
After that, he just keeps hitting you with good stuff. The first
page has a nice "intro", and a good "who I am"
paragraph with a picture. Click the picture and you get
a larger version. (Wow - maybe too big Greg!)
There's a link that takes you right to the rest of the CD if you already know who Wilkerson is or you been here before. Now you're at the "Contents" page, as in "table of contents", and it has everything you could possible want. A paragraph on "How to use this CD", all the info for e-mailing or mailing Wilkerson, his web-site link, and the table of contents in link format. The table of contents is great, and lists:
All sections have a brief description of what
follows. Since each page has a bar of links at the bottom for
"Home", "Contents", "Back" and "Next",
this CD is a breeze to navigate.
OK, enough on the mechanics, on to the content. If you're not already eager to start at this point, the gallery of Greg Wilkerson's work will get the juices going. The tool list is good, and comes complete with metric conversions. There is a plug at this point for the Easley Carvin' Vise, which is forgivable since it looks like a real good clamp, but there could have been a little more discussion and pictures for alternative holding methods.
Then there's the Anatomy section, with a concise list of rules for head/face proportions. After the anatomy section, the remaining 15 sections basically lead you step by step to the completion of your project. The layout is broken down to an appropriate level of detail, so we won't describe each one here. Every picture in every section can be clicked on for a larger, higher resolution shot, and since these are coming off your CD and not the WWW, you don't sit doing "penalty time" for the larger picture. This is a very nice feature.
I encountered just a few negatives on this CD . There could have been more instruction for applying the rules in the anatomy section to the layout of the face in Section One. The flow was pretty much "here are the rules" and then "now draw the face on the log". It's not a show stopper, because you can just copy what Wilkerson has in his picture, but if there were more of a step-by-step utilization of the anatomy rules it would set up the student more for future projects where the face wasn't an Apache.
Another potential negative is also found in Section 1. At one point, the instructions say, "to carve the face area into an approximately 45 degree angle". A diagram would be helpful here to more clearly describe where and how you apply the 45 degree angle. I've done faces before, and maybe I'm just being "dense" here (it wouldn't be the first time), but I'm still not quite sure from where the 45 degree angle is measured.
One final nit to pick and we'll wrap this up.
There are no audio/video clips in Greg's CD. It may seem a bit
harsh to fault the CD for this, but the medium has the capacity,
and I think there should be a few of these included in any instructional
CD. There are always going to be a few steps that are just real
difficult to convey with a "still" shot, so leaving
audio/videos out of a CD is similar to leaving pictures out of
an instructional book. My two cents worth, but there it is.
Anyway, in summary, this CD is "aces", and anyone should be proud to have it in their carving library and find it very useful. In my humble opinion, it's a 4-Thumber with not far to go to earn a "5".
Mike Bloomquist is a carver and carving teacher, and a frequent contributor to WOM. He edits the on-line newletter for the Mohawk Valley Art & Woodcarving Association, and is also their current President.
You may visit Mike's web site, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving at http://www.borg.com/~bloomqum/index.htm or email him at email@example.com.
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