Tag Archives: wood

Grendel!

Grendel in wood

Grendel, basswood, approx. 3″

Here’s the latest: a miniature Grendel. This piece was really satisfying to carve — not just because it turned out well, but because:

  • it was quick to carve with hand tools
  • it would be easy to scale up as a chainsaw piece.

Could be the first of many more carved dogs to come!

Grendel in the flesh

Grendel in the flesh

 

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Last Laugh Lion – Finished, October 2017

Artist’s Statement:
Last Laugh Lion

Palmyra is a city in what is now Syria. In the 1st century AD it was ruled by the Roman Empire and it was a wealthy trading centre. Around that time, artisans built a limestone statue in tribute to the goddess al-Lat.

The statue was 3.5 m (11 ft) high, and weighed 15 tonnes. It showed a lion, the consort of al-Lat, with a gazelle between its legs — symbolic of the goddess’s opposition to bloodshed.

Lion of al-Lat

After centuries of neglect, including being disassembled to use the stone for other purposes, the Lion of al-Lat was rediscovered by Polish archeologists in 1977. The statue was restored, and relocated to the entrance of the Palmyra Museum. In 2005, it underwent a second restoration. During the Syrian Civil War the treasured statue was protecting from fighting.

 Sadly, in 2015, Palmyra was captured by ISIS, and the Lion of al-Lat, which had survived close to 2,000 years, was demolished in a single day on June 27.

That was when I first learned about the statue, and I decided there and then that a statue celebrating a goddess who had opposed violence should not be allowed to be destroyed and consigned to oblivion. I began my carving, called Last Laugh Lion, the next day, to keep the memory of this ancient artifact and what it stood for alive.

I finished my lion on October 15, 2017.

The next day, I learned that unbeknownst to me, the whole time I’d been working on Last Laugh Lion, restorers had been at work on the original. Two weeks before my lion was finished, the original statue was restored. Some pieces are missing, and it has lost its imposing stone backing, but you can now see the Lion of al-Lat at the National Museum of Damascus.

Last Laugh Lion - finished, October 2017

Last Laugh Lion – finished, October 2017

 

Wood Porn

image of woodgrain

Forget exotic dancers – if you’re a carver, a block of exotic wood can set the pulse racing.

Say you’re at a show and you spy a piece of richly grained mahogany… Or a maple burl… Or, perhaps, a rare block of pink-toned pear. Your fingers start to twitch. Your imagination leaps like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. You think, that could be my masterpiece – and before you know it, your wallet is in your hands…

As with many other addictions, these days the internet makes it easy to get your fix. If you’re wood-obsessed, a few places to start are Rare Woods USA, Langevin & Forest, Exotic Woods and Century Mill Lumber.

Rare Woods USA was originally launched in South Africa 30 years ago and then established in Maine, USA. The company carries boards, blocks and burls from more than 150 species. You can visit their mountain-location showroom by appointment, or try to restrain yourself by ordering via phone or email (full-fledged internet shopping is to come).

Maine is right next to Quebec, so if you visit Rare Woods USA, you can easily drop in on Langevin and Forest too. And honestly – how can you resist a company that calls itself “les connaisseurs du bois”? Along with a seriously impressive stock of woods, Langevin & Forest carries an extensive collection of carving tools (along with specialist products like feet and eyes for bird carvers). And if you want to experiment with other activities, this company can provide the stock, tools and guidance to get you started on anything from marquetry to deck building.

Langevin & Forest is gradually building the English-language version of its website, and some products still come up in French. But you’ll get free shipping on orders over $100, as long as they can be shipped by Canada Post.

Finally, two southern Ontario options are Exotic Woods in Burlington and Century Mill in Stouffville. Exotic Woods serves a variety of customers, including luthiers and wood turners, but offers a broad selection of woods, plus glass eyes for bird carvers. Century Mill is a good source of domestic woods for carving, such as red alder, basswood, butternut and cherry.