Monday, February 4, 2019

Big Raven

Hapi and I have been sick the past week, I am recovered but I don't know if Hapi is. She looks un-Hapi and she hasn't eaten her dinner in a couple of days. She does eat any treats offered though and still likes her morning walk. No one else can see any sign of her not being her usual self. I'm thinking it is temporary, she's done this before.

As a result of not feeling well I have had no motivation to go outside for anything other than Hapi's walk and I have to say I am enjoying that. I did get out skating once and skiing once at the Reservoir. The skiing was interesting, I got a lot of advice on how to ski as I made my way around the ponds. The advice was coming from older dogwalkers who used to ski back in the day. I think they were envious, they wanted to ski too. Two mentioned that they still had their skis in storage somewhere, maybe they'd dig them out. I'm not a good skier so I don't mind advice. Who knows, maybe I'll have company for another ski.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I've been puttering around. I got it into my head to finish the woodcarving that I started in Toronto years ago, it has been sitting on a high shelf in a closet since I moved to Nova Scotia (in 2010). I got it down and looked at it.

Where are my carving tools? I spent a day ransacking the house looking for them. In the process, found all sorts of other interesting things and decided to throw away half of them. Interesting garbage, not much more than that. Found the tools.

Then I thought I'd rearrange the furniture in the living room so that Hapi's bed is closer to the armchair I usually sit it, I thought she might spend more time indoors if she could be closer to me. Did that. Didn't make a difference, she seemed to think the new location was a bit odd but she could live with it.

Where are the notes I took in the woodcarving class? Another day ransacking, but still haven't found them. I suspect I may have tossed the notebook they were in. After looking at the set of tools I realized that I have forgotten what many of them are for. I may have to find a book on it.

The instructor in the woodcarving class was a woman whose name I forget. Most of the students were older than me and had been in that class for years, they had a nice thing going. It was a 4-hour class, but halfway through they took a leisurely coffee break and sat at a round table together just chewing the fat. We each had our own project that we worked on independently and the instructor was available for advice. When I joined the class (I was only there for two years), she took several half-sessions to get me up and running, and she did that with every new student. We shared the tools, which were high quality carving tools that she provided. She was a professional carver, actually made a living doing it. It was a very relaxed fun time and I very much enjoyed listening to their stories. One carver was the same age as my Dad would have been and he had the same name! Both given and surnames! They were both in World War II, what an amazing coincidence.

My project is a bas relief (that is what she started everyone on, once you completed that you could do anything you wanted) based on an Emily Carr painting called Big Raven. I love almost everything Carr has done, but Big Raven is my favourite. The instructor approved of my choice, she said it was not too detailed and would transfer nicely to a bas relief.

The first step was to photocopy an illustration of that painting from a book and blow it up to the size of the bas relief, about 12"x16".

Then I laid out a slab of plasticine on a piece of masonite and transfered an outline of the photocopy to the plasticine by poking a needle through the photocopy along all the lines. I also traced the same lines onto a transparent film of mylar with a magic marker. I used the mylar outline to draw the picture onto a 2" thick slab of balsa wood.

The plasticine was for a mockup of the final bas relief, I started by carving the plasticine using the same tools I would use on the wood. Plasticine is a little more forgiving than wood if you make a mistake.

I started carving the wood before I completed the plasticine mockup, the idea was to always be a little further ahead on the plasticine than on the wood. Actually there are parts of the final bas relief that are started (some background details and a tree) that don't appear on the mockup. I don't remember why that is the case.

While I was writing this my neighbour phoned and we had a long conversation about this and that. By the time we were finished I had been given three assignments—call my son about his daughter, call another neighbour about a concert ticket, and call a mutual friend to arrange to go out for lunch this week—which I had to complete before getting back to this blog post. All done now. Texted my son, left a message about lunch, and reserved a ticket for Friday.

PS, I looked through old blog posts about my time in the woodcarving class, the instructor's name was Ruth.


Wisewebwoman said...

There is no end to your talent and creativity. Wood carving. Tell me what is the top needlework piece - also by you?

I never knew about the plasticine. Though I did know about sculpting and plaster (I think). Never tried either.


Annie said...

Yes it also by me, just to illustrate my obsession with this painting. Not really talented, just willing to try anything. Unfortunately I never stick to anything long enough to become good at it. The woodcarving instructor told me to pick a subject that I really loved because I would be working on it for a very long time and I needed not to become bored with it.