Monday, July 21, 2014

The Blacksmith

The Blacksmith
Remember me?  I have a woodcarving blog called Carvin’ Tom’s. Maybe you’ve heard of it????

It has been so long since I posted anything that I half expect that it will be months before “my regulars” even notice that there has been a new posting.  I’m sorry about that, but life sometimes kind of gets in the way and some things have to slip.

I have wanted to do a carving of a blacksmith working at his anvil for at least 5 or 6 years.  This piece is the culmination of…I hesitate to call it “planning”…perhaps “waiting” is the word…those years of “research”.  Early on, I actually managed to con my fully-grown son into humiliating himself by posing as a simulated blacksmith holding a hammer over a simulated anvil while holding a simulated iron bar with some simulated tongs -- right there in the middle of our suburban driveway.  Just a few more sessions with the therapist and I expect that soon the emotional trauma will subside and he will be as good as new :-).

Quench Bucket and Coal Bag
I turned the quenching bucket on the lathe and used a wood burning tool to define the individual staves.  I just freehand carved the bag of coal. 

The coals in the forge and in the top of the bag are made of the gravel that they sell for use in birdcages. I drip a ~25% mixture of white glue in water with a few drops of dish liquid over the gravel and let it dry. The dish liquid makes the glue flow easily to fill all the little voids.  I then painted to look like coal – unburnt, burnt and otherwise.  
Irons in the Fire

I glued a few very thin wood shavings into the coals of the forge and painted them to look like flames.  I think that worked out pretty well. 

The piece of steel that our blacksmith friend is pounding flat and the tongs in his hand are made from some short pieces of coat hanger wire.  The steel that they use is pretty tough to cut but it is relatively easy to work.  I easily hammered it flat and I was able to work it into the two tong pieces.  I drilled a hole through each of them and hammered a short section of 14 gauge wire into a rivet to hold them together.  I used a drop of superglue to bond the tongs to the work piece.  The tongs just sit in his hands and the work piece rests on the top of the anvil.

Tongs and Work Piece

The Forge

The tin roof of the forge is a folded from a single piece of cardboard from a manila folder.  Many thanks to my high school shop/drafting teacher, Mr. Randolph, for teaching me how to layout sheet metal.  I wish he were still around 50 years later to see that I still remember and can use what he taught me, way back then.

I never really know until I stop what such a piece should include.  I knew I wanted to make this some sort of a diorama and I knew that it had to be built of pieces that would fit through the rather narrow opening of the curio cabinet.  I know this because I have one carving that I did many years ago that “would” have fit inside the cabinet but unfortunately wouldn’t fit though the door opening (see: That Eureka Moment ).  As a result, it adorns (read: “is collecting dust atop”) my chest of drawers in the bedroom.  Since then, I kept in mind that any diorama must be designed to be disassembled, passed through the door opening and then, reassembled -- “ship-in-a-bottle” fashion -- once all of the pieces are there.  This one works that way.

Overall, I feel very good about the forge, the anvil, the quenching bucket and even the bag of coal, but I have to admit that I’m not all that pleased with the figure itself.  The body is pretty good but I don’t like the head at all.  I lost track but I think that he is sporting either the 3rd or 4th head that I carved.  Even after 12 years of carving and dozens of figures, heads and faces are still a problem for me.  My wife even asked, as I was working on the blacksmith, “Was I going to make it look like (son’s name withheld for psychological reasonsJ).”  My response was, “I just hope that I can produce something that looks sort of like a face.”  As it is, I feel that the hair looks about right but the head is a too big and the face a little too flat and has a pretty brainless expression.  Not a handsome figure in my opinion.

So there it is.  I hope you like what you see.  Let me know.

‘Til next time…hopefully not so long…Keep makin’ chips!

1 comment:

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