Friday, September 30, 2011

Wrigley Gumshoe, Private Eye

It was a dark and stormy night…CRASH!… RUMBLE…RUMBLE, RUMBLE…

A woman screamed…SHREEK!…

A shot rang out…KA-POW!…sound of a body slumping to the ground

Good Evening and Welcome to another exciting episode in the continuing saga of “Wrigley Gumshoe, Private eye.

Tonight’s presentation is brought to you by SCUFF-NO-MOR, the miracle product of the space age guaranteed to protect your children from noxious growths and lizards indigenous to the area *.

Wrigley Gumshoe, Private Eye
I don’t know if you ever experience flashbacks to those halcyon days of long ago when radio dramas were king.  But I do every time I look at my latest figure.

Unlike most of my work, Wrigley is almost a carbon copy (I omitted his cigarette and changed the name) of the caricature carved by Dennis Thornton and featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine.  I have been wanting to work my “face-carving” skills and when I found this guy and his marvelously “chiseled” features -- Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one :-) -- I figured that he would make a good study piece. 

Dennis made a comment in the article about having to work at getting the face carved underneath the brim of the hat.  Well, he wasn’t kidding.  This guy has gone through a total of four hats!

Hat Number 1 was part of the overall rough-out block.  When I started to do the area around the eyes I managed to break off a piece of the brim (weak cross-grain).  “Oh well”, I thought, “No big deal.  I’ll just have to carve another hat separately.”  I just waltzed ol’ Wrigley downstairs to the band saw whacked off his hat and went on the rest of the carving.  Without the hat to interfere, the face carving went pretty smoothly.  I think I’m getting better, but I still need to work on the eyes.  I don’t think that I sink them far enough back into the face and they almost always seem a bit too open and zombie-like.

I used Lynn Doughty’s blue wash technique (I don’t have a direct link but check back through his early videos for the first one on painting, you’ll find it) to give Wrigley that gritty, Humphrey Bogart, 5 o’clock shadow look.  You might not be able to notice it in the photos but it DOES work.

Hat Number 2 - I roughed out another hat and decided that I would try to make my job a little easier. I used a Forstner bit to make remove the majority of the material on the inside of the hat.  I knew that I was going to have to open up the hole a bit more to allow for ol’ Wrigley’s slightly oval head.  But, as one of the many corollaries to Murphy’s Law states, “The larger the hole the more likely it is to be put in the wrong place.”  In lengthening the opening I managed to punch through the back of the hat…NUTS!!!!

Hat Number 3 – This time I was much more careful about the placement of the hole and was able to successfully enlarge it to comfortably accept Wrigley’s head, but in shaping the front part of the crown, I pushed too hard and – you guessed it – snapped off the brim…again!  …DOUBLE NUTS!!!!

Hat Number 4 – OK, this time I got the hole right and managed to shape the brim without breaking it off.  The only problem that remains is that when viewed from the side, the crown of the hat seems a little too big from front to back.  That is the downside with adding the hat later and allowing the head to sit up into the hat to hide the joint.  On a real head the hat is only as thick as the material it is made from, but on a carving you can’t get it that thin.  The choices are two:

1  Carve the hat and head with sufficient precision that the hat fits flat on the head without a noticeable seam between them or
2   Live with a slightly over-sized hat

The result here looks pretty good as viewed from straight or at a ¾ front view.  In any case, by this time, I was really tired of carving hats, so Hat Number 4 stays!

Wrigley ended up being a little top heavy (heavy hat and outstretched arm and gun) and needed some stabilization, so I turned a nice maple disk for him to stand on.  The maple is so light in color that he and his dark clothes and shoes show up very nicely.

One for the Bench:

I have read that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the edge of the pool and throw them fish.

‘Til next time…keep Makin’ Chips

*       With credit for the memorable but totally fictitious commercial line going to Willard Scott and Ed Walker “The Joy Boys of Radio” on WRC-AM in Washington, DC during the late 1960s.

Click here to sing along with their theme song!

No comments: