Monday, March 19, 2012

That Eureka Moment

That "Eureka Moment"
We’ve all been there.  Eureka!  You just hit pay dirt!  All of your troubles are behind you!  Your future is suddenly looking sunny, but then you experience a full body quiver…what was that noise behind you?...And it appears that things are not quite as rosy as they were just a second ago.

I’m sorry to report that Carvin’ Tom is still otherwise engaged so this is another blast from the past.  I actually posted this carving way back when I first started this blog but I never actually said anything about it. 

The inspiration of this piece came from a carving that I saw at a local woodcarving show about 4 or 5 years ago.  The original was much larger -- and I have to admit – much more realistic.  It was a very classy carving of just the prospector and his pan.  I liked the character and finally got around to putting my own spin on it.

The antagonist was never intended to be a semi-realistic bear but rather a comical mountain lion all stretched out on a branch hanging over the stream eying up his “dinner” below.  But I just couldn’t seem to make that work.  The lion looked anything but lion-like and just didn’t measure up to the prospector.  Then I found a pattern for a polar bear that I could adapt and, with a brown paint job, a polar bear looks a lot like a brown bear, so I was in business:--)
Hello, Mr. Prospector!

These little dioramas seem to grow and grow.  In order to make the bear “work” I couldn’t use the spindly little tree idea.  I had to have something more substantial for the bear to stand on.  So suddenly the diorama about doubled in size and I was into building an overhanging cliff so that the bear could get a good “look at"/"sniff of" the prospector.  I didn’t want to have the stream run straight through left to right…that seemed way too symmetrical.  So I came up with the diagonal arrangement with some of both banks visible as you see here. 

The water was originally going to be just painted on.  I did some research on painting techniques but was not terribly impressed with the look.  I don’t recall just now what made me think of it, whether it was a magazine, a comment from another carver or perhaps a trip to the hobby store, but I come across the “water” used by model railroaders.  Out of the box, this stuff looks like little, milky, yellowish-white pebbles that you melt on the stove and pour.  I built up a little cardboard dam around the edges, heated up and poured in the goo. 

Unfortunately, the wood was so *cold* (comparatively speaking) that the goo set almost immediately upon coming is contact with it leaving me with a potentially “ruined” carving because, of course, adding the water was the very last step.  I panicked and reached for my heat-shrink gun. (Those of you with any electronics background know what that is, if you don’t know then just imagine a very HOT hair dryer.)  I heated and pushed and heated and pushed the goo around until it was at least smooth on the top.  The small amount of stringiness and cloudiness that resulted by the non-uniform heating actually make the water look more realistic (IMHO).  While at the hobby shop I picked up some Lichen and some pebbles to dress things up a bit more…some of the pebbles are also under water along the stream bed.
You can see the gravel in the stream bed
I think when it is all said and done that it turned out pretty well. 

Remember my comment about how these things tend to “grow”?  Well, although this piece was originally “sized” to fit in the curio cabinet, the completed work is too large in the wrong places to fit through the door opening of the curio cabinet (Dah!  I didn’t measure that.).  So, the prospector and his buddy now occupy a place of honor on the mantel.

One for the Bench:

         Whatever you are, be a good one. - Abraham Lincoln

‘Til next time…Keep makin’ chips!

1 comment:

Mike Jobe (espeemike on the blogs) said...

really nice piece Tom, I like his expression...