Author Archive for Mike Bloomquist

Get Whale Soon!

They say a pun is the low­est form of humor, so what bet­ter time to inflict one on a friend but when they’re ill.  And if your ill friend is in a sit­u­a­tion where get­ting well is a rel­a­tive thing, excuse your­self as I did and explain that Get Whaler Soon brought to mind a car­i­ca­ture of Ahab with a har­poon… not near­ly as fun or effec­tive as this project is.  Trust me!

OK, let’s get start­ed! If at any time the pic­tures don’t help you with the step, skip ahead for lat­er shots for more ref­er­ences (espe­cial­ly steps 23 & 24).  Also know that click­ing on any pic­ture will enlarge it.  To get back to the tuto­r­i­al, just click the “Back” arrow of your brows­er.

Step 1:  Well… my step one. Could have sworn I’d seen a “Get Whale Soon” carv­ing project some­where.   Could not find it.  Nor­mal­ly at this point I would try and draw my own pat­tern, but this project/muse had a time crunch on it.  So then you type “car­toon”, “car­i­ca­ture”, and “whale” into Google and search pic­tures.  Nor­mal­ly I take 2–3 of my favorites and com­bine them.  This time, this one just seemed per­fect.  Sketched a quick pro­file.  Notice how the grain goes par­al­lel to the length at the nar­row­est sec­tion of the tail… very impor­tant.

get whale soon - 01


Step 2:  Band saw­ing off what I can.  You can’t tell from the pic­ture, but that’s a Rock­well 14″ with a 6″ ris­er block kit.  It’s a vet­er­an that came over from the hob­by shop of a closed US AFB in Ger­many.  The beast has a trans­mis­sion that allows it to cut met­al as well as wood.

get whale soon - 02


Step 3:  Some more band saw cuts.  A lit­tle hard to describe, but the sec­ond set of band saw cuts from the nose to the widest part are down from the tail and the rest were down from the front.  Check the saw marks in the pic­ture.

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Step 4:  The fins are going to be carved sep­a­rate.  Try to lay­out the pat­tern so that the grain is par­al­lel to the length of the root where it will be insert­ed into the body of the whale.

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Step 5:  And the water­spout is going to be carved sep­a­rate as well.

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Step 6:  With most of the parts cut out, start by knockin’ the cor­ners off.  Notice the cen­ter­line I draw to stay sym­met­ri­cal.
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Step 7:  You don’t want to carve the fins flat. Cut them dou­ble thick and carve away the black areas.  Remem­ber to make one side the mir­ror of the oth­er.  Also, there’s a “don’t” in this pic­ture… the end that should insert into the whale’s body should end par­al­lel to the grain.  This means I should have cut this from a thick­er piece of wood and fin­ished that end of the curved fin flat against the side of the wood.

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Step 8:  The shape of things so far… the water­spout is basi­cal­ly a mush­room with a tapered stem… the fins taper down to a dow­el rod shape at it’s base for mount­ing in the body (lat­er)… the body is nice­ly round­ed with a soft­ly flat­tened tail.

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Step 9:  Some close ups.  Notice that the typ­i­cal cross sec­tion of the main body is not cir­cu­lar.  It’s kind of squashed with the widest point being high of the cen­ter.

get whale soon - 11

get whale soon - 10


Step 10:  The ridge from the tail bone.

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Step 11:  This shape is done with a gouge cut down both sides of the cen­ter line, and then a knife or shal­low­er gouge is used to blend the out­er sides of each of those cuts into the tail (erase them).

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Step 12:  Time to draw the facial fea­tures.  A per­ma­nent pen would have been bet­ter… no smudg­ing of the graphite over the carv­ing, either eras­es with a knife not an eras­er.

get whale soon - 15


Step 13:  Out­line the eye and lips(?) with a stop cut using a v-tool (leaned slight­ly towards the waste side of the cut).

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Step 14:  Carve away wood from the waste side of the cut until you no longer see that side of what the v-tool did.

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Step 15:  OK, this is what it looks like after a few more steps.  To get here  I round­ed the eye area then stop cut the lid and the low­er half of the eye cir­cle.  I then removed some wood from the inside of these stop cuts.  I also stop cut the upper lip and the low­er lip where it forms that open area of the mouth where the teeth(?) go. Then I removed wood from inside this area.  Remem­ber this pat­tern is repeat­ed as mir­ror images on both sides of the cen­ter line.

get whale soon - 19


Step 16:  Draw in the teeth (yes, I know they’re not real­ly teeth on the whale, but this is car­i­ca­ture).

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Step 17:  Then chip cut out the ver­ti­cal lines and voila!

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Step 18:  Drew in the rows of the under­side.  Notice that the depres­sion on the right isn’t as sharp as the one I’m cut­ting.  I soften/widen it on pur­pose by mak­ing two more pass­es on the first cut.  One with the v-tool leaned over to the left and anoth­er pass leaned to the right.

get whale soon - 22


Step 19:  The water spout so far is a mush­room with a tapered stem.  The final shape is like a flower with long, round tipped petals rolled severe­ly over as they radi­ate.  Stag­ger and over­lap them like shin­gles.  I decid­ed after out­lin­ing them with a v-tool that they need­ed a cone shaped dip to spray out from and that’s what you see me carv­ing now.

get whale soon - 23


Step 20:  Stop cut the petals with a v-tool or a knife. Start with the whole shape of the top­most ones and cut waste wood out from the water “petals” below.

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Step 21:  You might need to under­cut more from behind the bot­tom edge to “sell it”.  This is prob­a­bly the trick­i­est piece to carve… go slow!

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Step 22:  Drill the holes for fins… approx­i­mate­ly 45 degrees back and slight­ly down.  Test fit them and when you like them epoxy them in..

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Step 23:  I would drill the hole in the base first (1/4″ hole for a 1/4″ dow­el rod) and then drill the hole in the whale.  When that all looks good, then drill the hole for the water spout.  Notice he looks a bit grumpy here… paint­ing the pupils in will fix that.

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Step 24:  …and a view goin’ away.

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Step 25:  My secret for lay­ing out let­ter­ing?  Corel Graph­ics Suite X5 stu­dent & home edi­tion.  Corel Draw lets you fit text to a curve. Oh, and I’m a font junkie.  This one is Nach­mere (Night­mare).

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Step 26:  Graphite paper, painter’s tape, and an emboss­ing pen (which I use for paint­ing as well… but not emboss­ing… go fig­ure <G>).

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Step 27:  My pyrog­ra­phy kit is a Franken­stein mon­ster… Detail Mas­ter base con­trol, an adapter, and Opti­ma pens with inter­change­able tips.  This was a deer foot shad­er.  I’m not an expert, and it might have been eas­i­er to out­line them with a dag­ger point and fill with the shad­er.  Next time.

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Step 28:  TaDa! (How’s that for an infor­ma­tive step?)

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Step 29:  This is towards the end of the paint­ing.  When I start­ed, I thor­ough­ly soaked the pieces with water using a spray bot­tle and then used very watered down wash­es of col­or.  If you look close you can make out the grain.  That’s just the way I roll when paint­ing my carv­ings, if you have a pre­ferred method of your own use it.

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Step 30:  A cou­ple coats of acrylic clear satin… just enough to get rid of the chalk­i­ness of the acrylics and leave the piece with a nice, soft sheen.

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Step 31:  An a close up.  Remem­ber when I said I used the emboss­ing tool for paint­ing?  Check out the small dot of off-white high­light­ing the pupil.

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I hope you enjoyed the project, and under­stand when I say that I hope you don’t have to carve too many of these.  If you do carve sev­er­al, try a dif­fer­ent whale with a dif­fer­ent shape next time like a sperm whale, or if the patient is a uni­corn lover, a nar­whale.

Whale Gang… keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and remem­ber, puns are fun! ;-).

Review: Us Carvers

Us Carvers

by Ger­ry Holz­man

Review by Mike Bloomquist

Cover of Us CarversFirst off, an apol­o­gy to my read­ers (all three of you) for my sparse con­tri­bu­tions to WOM over the past cou­ple of years.  I’ve been recent­ly tempt­ed aside by oth­er activ­i­ties.  Hope­ful­ly my writ­ing and wood­carv­ing hasn’t suf­fered for it.  Any­way, I hope this is a treat for you here on my return.  This book, Us Carvers,  by Ger­ry Holz­man, was a bit hard to acquire, but, in the end well worth the effort.   At Artistry In Wood about three years ago a fel­low wood­carv­er dropped off a pho­to­copied ad from Chip Chats announc­ing this book and describ­ing it as an account of the auth or’s cor­re­spon­dence and friend­ship with the wood­carv­er Gino Masero.  Not to snub the author, but it was his friend’s name that imme­di­ate­ly caught my inter­est.  In a pre­vi­ous review writ­ten for the book Ele­ments of Wood­carv­ing authored by Chris Pye, two of the final chap­ters were ded­i­cat­ed to carvers who had great­ly influ­enced the author.  Gino Masero was one of them.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly I did snub Mr. Pye in that review, because the one carv­ings in  Ele­ments that was not­ed specif­i­cal­ly was a soul­ful piece of St. Fran­cis of Assisi play­ing the vio­lin (actu­al­ly two sticks).  I was eager for anoth­er view of the wood sculp­tor Masero.

To see the rest of this review click HERE.

Review: First Projects for Woodcavers

First Projects For Woodcarvers Cover

First Projects for Woodcarvers 

First Christmas Projects for Woodcarvers

by Lar­ry Green and Mike Alt­man

Review by Mike Bloomquist

These two books are old friends off mine and I haven’t carved a sin­gle project from either of them.  What’s even more strange is one of them, First Christ­mas Projects for Wood­carvers I just pur­chased from the Wood­craft Shop at the Artistry in Wood show last Novem­ber.  Pret­ty sim­ple rid­dles real­ly.  I’ve had them with me for many of my wood carv­ing class­es espe­cial­ly where begin­ners were expect­ed.  You see, I don’t like to force any par­tic­u­lar pat­tern on stu­dents if it can be helped, espe­cial­ly those who are new to the art.  So begin­ners are offered as wide a selec­tion of pat­terns as pos­si­ble. As for Christ­mas Projects begin­ning a recent pur­chase, I bought a copy from “Big Dog” to replace one I’d lost track of.  Some­day, whomev­er I loaned it to will turn up with it and I’ll prob­a­bly let them have it as a gift.  It’s hap­pened like that before.

OK, these to have been around for a bit. First Projects for Wood­carvers was pub­lished in 1996 and it’s com­pan­ion the fol­low­ing year.  First off, these books have more authors than just the two list­ed on the cov­er.  Lar­ry Green is the pri­ma­ry author (I believe) and Mike Alt­man is an illus­tra­tor.  One of the fin­er points of these books is the illus­tra­tions and car­i­ca­tures of the authors, so Mike deserves to be list­ed.  Then there’s some fine pho­tog­ra­phy by Steve Smith and con­sul­tants Tom Brown (CCA mem­ber) and Mac Prof­fit (own­er of Smoky Moun­tain Woodcarver’s Sup­ply).

First Christmas Projects cover

To see the rest of this review click HERE.