Friday, January 9, 2009

Dare to Move Your Light

Unless you're planning to spend all your time standing beside your finished piece with a task light shining at an optimum angle, it's a good idea to inspect it with light shone at various angles while it's still under construction.

This is especially true in carving, such as cabriole legs, lettercarving, shells, and anything in which you have to shape a piece with handtools. All will benefit from this kind of scrutiny.

I'll forewarn you...this is not an exercise for the faint of heart. Just when you think your fine skill has generated perfection, a readjusted light will make mockery of your workpiece and reveal with glaring clarity just how imperfect a creation you've painstakingly crafted.

However, it does give you the opportunity to make corrections and ensure that your work will look its best under any kind of light.

Even the type under which it will eventually most likely be found — boring, indistinct, overhead light. (See last photo....ew.)


Anonymous said...

Geez, Kari. You do such incredible work, I find it hard to imagine it looking bad under any light.

will said...

Oh no! It was supposed to be 1806!

Anonymous said...


That is always a good idea. Another helpful tip is to turn the work upside down and see how it looks.

Walking away for a while then coming back looking at it with fresh eyes.

I also look at stuff like this in a mirror which can reveal things you wouldn't normally see.

Also squinting at your work can give you another perspective.

Your advantage, being a graphics designer is that your cartoon of what you are going to carve, is very well done, hence your carving looks great.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's awesome work! Compared to this, my work looks best under a blacklight, maybe? Or a strobe? One of those "color organs" from the 1970's?

Anonymous said...

Your blog is one of the best and most professional out there! I've been "visiting" for a few months and am amazed at the content. In the archives, do you have a pictorial of a carving similar to this?

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks Pete, but I do tend to choose the most complimentary photos to post. ; )


Stephen, all good ideas. Thanks for commenting.

Woodshepherd--how 'bout woodworking by lava lamp?

Thanks, Tony! Yes, I discussed lettercarving on March 15 & 22 2008.
You might also like the June 12 and July 31, 2008 posts.

Woodfired! said...

Nice one Bill!

Thanks Kari. We don't talk about light enough. It's so fundamental to both making and viewing. One of the main characteristics of wood that makes it so attractive to us is the unique way that the cellular structure scatters light. And particularly how appearance changes as the angle between light, surface and viewer varies.

It would be good to have a discussion of workshop lighting sometime and see what setups and cunning innovations people use.

Kari Hultman said...

Mark, that sounds like it would make an interesting blog post. (hint, hint)

Anonymous said...

So there I was trying my best to move toward the light and it keeps shifting around. I gave up and went back!