Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gothic Stool: Part IV

For the gothic stool I'm working on, I plan to chip carve a design on the outside of each leg, carve the handle for the seat, and carve a scene on the front of the stretcher.

I have a ways to go, but here is an update on my progress.

The chip carved designs I'm using are right out of one of Wayne Barton's excellent books. The handle is based on a tiny graphic I found in a book about gothic furniture. The design for the stretcher relies heavily on carved scenes I found on medieval panels.

It was a humbling experience while searching for references for the stretcher. It seems as though every wooden surface from the middle ages had something carved on it. The apparent speed and skill of the craftsmen is mind boggling.

I can't imagine how it would feel to be among a team of carvers that was asked to embellish the entire interior of a church when I can't seem to peddle any faster with this tiny little project I'm working on.

For the relief carving, take my process with a grain of salt. I'm figuring this out as I go along, so if you really want to learn relief carving, you might want to invest in some good books or DVDs from folks who've had training.

Basically, I draw the design, make stop cuts straight down along the outline, use shallow gouges to pare away and level the background, then start on the design.

To do that, I also outline the pencil lines with stop cuts, and then carve away portions that should appear to be further away in perspective. I start with basic shapes and then work back in with finer details. No sense getting too detailed in case you find you need to make certain areas lower as you go along.



Frontier Carpenter said...

Very nice work Kari! I really like the dog and wild bore. Is that German inspired?

Dyami Plotke said...

That's amazing. It's going to be an awesome stool. You're carving is really taking off. When do you plan to make a DVD?

Tom Stephenson said...


There's a reason why it took 200 years to build one of those churches you reference! And your carving and patience are amazing! Great work and I look forward to seeing the finished stool. Love the cut out in the seat and the dog and boar stretcher. Great stuff!

mokusakusensei--woods teacher said...

I am not sure, but you are not doing this full time are you? If not, put this into perspective: 1. they worked normally 7 years in an apprenticeship. 2. When they became journeymen, then I am sure that the normal work day was well more than the 8 hours that we work. and 3. They would work 6-7 days a week. I think that you are doing amazing! Just keep working at it and someday maybe you will finish your apprenticeship.

Eric said...

You honestly keep getting better and better.
And the great way in which you photograph and explain your work, it even gives carving schlumps like me a chance to get better.
Thanks Kari.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, FC. I forget where I found those references, but I think they're English.

Dyami, at the rate I'm going with trying to learn carving, a DVD might be in the works in, oh, about 70 years!

Thanks, Tom. I hope it doesn't take me 200 years to finish this stool. heh.

You make really good points, McKay. :) And you are correct, this is just my hobby.

Thanks, Eric. I hope I'm improving with relief carving, but I'm not sure. I do feel a little more confident with chip carving, however.

Jonathan P. Szczepanski said...

Looking good Kari. Are the leaves overlapping the frame a traditional idea, or something that you chose? I really like it.


Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Jonathan. I came up with the idea of the leaves breaking the border. They're pretty small, so I'm not sure it will be all that noticeable, but we'll see.

tom buhl said...

Kari, love the work, photos and narrative.
Your projects always make me smile.

Anonymous said...

Peddle? What are you selling?

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Tom. :o)

Anon, sorry for the confusion. I meant that I'm not able to work any faster.

Corey said...

Kari, you would have really liked Mary May at WIA, I was able to catch her carving an acanthus leaf demonstration and it was very good. She did a great job of explaining the process and demonstrating the technique. You two have a lot in common that way. I love your progress update posts, keep em coming. Glad you (and Nancy, and your four legged friends) survived the storm intact.

Kari Hultman said...

I was sorry to miss Mary May, Corey. I'm hoping she'll be back next year. Hope to see you, too. :o)

Saaara said...

Impressive work! :) I should do chip carving at my studies this winter. But it looks so hard... Any tips? :)

-Saara, Finland

Kari Hultman said...

Saaara, if you do a search for "chip carving" on my blog, there are three entries which might be helpful. They are November 3, 2008; September 1, 2010; and September 10, 2010. The last one is a short video that shows some tips for beginners. Wayne Barton, who taught me chip carving, is a master. I highly recommend his books, knives, and stones. I have not seen his video, but I imagine it's very good. It's not that hard. The most important part is making sure your knife is sharp all along the cutting edge and all the way to the tip, otherwise you'll get tear out. Use a magnifier to check the cutting edge. If there is even the tiniest nick in the blade, you'll get tear out. Good luck!

Custom Remodeling said...

The stool is beautiful! Do you ever do custom carving for homes like mantels or interior trim? Would love to see pictures if you do!