Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cooling His Heels Completed!!!

The long journey finally came to an end this weekend, and I finished my scene.  I know that I've said this before, but it turned out better than I had hoped. 

I think I achieved that relaxed look on my cowboy's face that I was hoping for, and you can almost see the steam coming off of his heels as he soaks them in the stream.  The two vacationing amphibians really adds charm and the overall design.  The frog floating in the inner tube is my favorite part of the whole scene.  I really wanted to get a cowboy hat into the piece, but it just didn't fit in without covering up more important details.  So, I gave up the idea and really don't feel the lack.

As promised, let me describe my struggles with developing the water.  My original goal was to make the water clear so that the bottom of the stream could be seen as well as the moss hanging off of the bottom of the log that the cowboy is sitting on.  I explored several options from epoxy to railroad modeling stuff.  I finally decided to try a product from Woodland Scenics called E-Z Water.  It's a plastic material that comes in small pellets.  I heated up a batch on the stove and pored it into the channel.  Right away, I could see that it was going to be a cloudy amber color.  Oh well, it was too late to change my mind.  So, I forged forward, building up the water in several layers.  Once I reached the depth that I was looking for, I used an old paint brush to texture the surface.

Once I was satisfied, I let the thing dry for a few hours and assessed the situation.  The top surface was really not to my liking.  It was too rough and really didn't have the look that I wanted.  There were a few places where the top layer was pealing off, so I took a piece of dowel cut off at a bevel and scraped at the surface of the E-Z Water.  It chipped off very easily, and what I found underneath was a nice, flowing texture.  Eureka!  That's what I was looking for.

Now that my idea of a clear stream was shattered, I was forced to resort to painting the water's surface.  I painted the entire surface with a True Blue color for an undercoat.  I followed up with a second layer of Turquoise on the higher points, leaving the lower sections the darker blue.  I finished up by dry brushing the tops of the waves with white to accent the white caps that my frog is enjoying.  All in all, I'm quite pleased with the results.  Even with the paint, the water is still somewhat translucent and provides a nice effect.

I'm not sure that I would recommend the E-Z Water yet.  I'll probably try another project with it before I make up my mind.

I learned many lessons along this journey.  Some for the good, some things to improve on.  That's exactly what carving is all about.  One should learn from each piece carved and apply the new knowledge to the next.  I hope you have enjoyed this series and learned something for yourself along the way.  Thanks for tagging along.

There are a lot more photos in the Picture Gallery, and the piece is available for purchase.  If you are interested, just drop me an email.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's a Boy!!!

The newest addition to my family has just arrived.  An 8 lb. 2 oz. baby boy!!!  I'm sorry that I haven't posted for a while.  I've been so busy helping my sweet wife get ready for the baby that I haven't had time to keep up with the Blog.  I've been fixing things around the house, finishing off a room in my basement to move my two oldest girls into to make room for the new arrival, and a million other things.  I just want to thank you all for sticking with me.

I'm down to three knives in the gallery and have orders for nine more that I need to fill this weekend, but after I get these orders filled, I'll make a large batch of them so the Knife Gallery doesn't look so empty.  If you have a special request, now would be the time to send in the custom order.

I have the finish drying on my Cooling His Heels project, and I'll get some finished pictures of it posted this weekend.  I think it turned out better than I had imagined.  I'll give a full description of how I finished the final details, including the water in my next post.

Anyway, thank you all for sticking around.  I hope to award your patients in the near future.