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Relief Carving: Relevations

An eBook by W.F. Judt

Reviewed by Matt Kelleyc


On the heels of his three hard copy relief carving books, Bill Judt has ventured into new territory with the release his first eBook, or electronic book. Relief Carving: Revelations, subtitled Secrets of a Professional Carver Revealed, is an entirely different approach to a "book." No paper hard copy here; the book arrives on a CD with 160 electronic pages in Portable Document Format (pdf) and is viewed on your computer using Adobe Reader or Apple Preview.

Before we look at what this book is, we'll touch briefly on what this book is not. When you look at the chapter titles, you'll notice it is NOT an introductory book; there is no discussion about selecting tools and wood, gluing up panels, finishing carvings or other newbie stuff. Judt does point out that information is available in his other three books.

At first blush, you might think the Revelations of the eBook are the "secrets" mentioned in the book's subtitle. But just as Bill Judt's relief carvings have layers, so too are there layers of revelation in the book.

The most obvious revelations, of course, are the carving techniques in the 18 chapters contained in the book:

1. Four Quadrant Carving
2. Carving Feathers
3. Carving Eyes
4. Carving Hair and Fur
5. Carving Repeating Patterns
6. Carving Teeth
7. Carving Water
8. Carving Ribbons
9. Carving Stars
10. Carving Buildings
11. Carving Picture Frames
12. Carving Ships
13. Carving Incised Text
14. Carving Quilted Text
15. Carving Raised Text
16. Carving Grapes
17. Carving Trees
18. Carving Hands

The 18 chapters, each on a particular aspect of relief carving, are all well written and very well illustrated. The step-by-step photos are easy to follow, and with the ability to zoom, you can really get a good look at any detail.

So what are the other revelations? Certainly, the ebook format itself is a bit of a revelation - it's easy to read, easy to zoom, easy to bookmark (as long as you have a computer handy.)

To me, one of the most interesting revelations is found in the initial section of the book, where Judt occasionally waxes philosophical.

In the Introduction, he discusses "The question that became a friend." While still a full-time parish pastor and novice carver (with Monday his day off), each Sunday night Judt was faced with the same question: " . . . how could I carve in wood the many images that were floating around in my brain?" Answering those questions has been a 30 year journey, as each new project presented new challenges to overcome, new techniques to be discovered and mastered.

Another revelation occurs in the section "Where does a carving design begin." Judt notes, "The best ideas are those you are the most passionate about." In short, you must "carve from the heart." He goes on to cite the example of a student who starts out to create a carving to memorialize a brother who died too young; the carving became a vehicle to work through the grief and loss.

All in all, Revelations is a very interesting and useful book, even for a guy that primarily does in-the-round caricature. I found little to dislike; no nits to pick. Any novice or intermediate carver should find useful techniques in the book, and at $24.00 US (shipping included) the price is quite reasonabale. Revelations is well written, clearly photographed and nicely laid out; it gets 4 Thumbs Up.

Revelations is available at Bill Judt's web site HERE.