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Stuff for my BA submission in August. AKA Welcome to The Dark Side.

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Jacob

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Talking of rough backs. This is the back of a door in very ordinary Victorian dresser. Softwood and brown varnish. A bit rough but the fronts are all perfect.

drawer26 copy.jpg


Taken out of the frame and cleaned off. Photographed placed in a beam of sunlight skimming the surface in an otherwise darkish room and you get slightly "collimated" light which shows up and exaggerates all the surface blemishes.
This is the same panel you'll have to take my word for it!
drawer39 copy.jpg


I guess finished with adze and the bevels planed with a jack.

I've seen a lot of stuff like this.
A spectacular chest of drawers in a French house had backs so rough the owners thought it had been attacked by bears! I'll see if I can find the photos it was some time ago.
 
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Adam W.

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That's interesting. I can see it's the same panel, just the other way up.

If it's Victorian, I wonder why it's not sawn ?
 

Adam W.

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One for the carvers.

The initial modelling of the term figure is now done and it's cast in silicone to make a one piece block mold. Once that's done I'll cast a couple of examples in plaster and carve the details on to them, then I'll make a final mold of that and cast it as a model to carve from.

I found the Ibex head tricky and had three attempts at it. It's funny how the eye tricks you into believing things are OK, so I take a picture of it on my phone and look for errors there.

I had to keep slicing 4mm off it each time to get it into line, as it was way off.

Still loads of work on the details like her ears and the hair on the ibex head and its horns, but its good for a starter.


IMG_0221.JPG



IMG_0222.JPG




IMG_0223.JPG
 

Adam W.

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So, the mould was made as a one piece block mould in two part RTV silicone and it came out alright.

IMG_0238.JPG


The clay model will go in the bin, as I can make repeat copies of it now. It will crack badly anyway, so there's no point in keeping it.

The first cast came out alright too and I'm fairly happy with the result.


IMG_0249.JPG


I should be able to fix it to a piece of timber the same size as the frames, with a rebate for the moulding which forms the sight edge. My plan is to make one side of the frame as a mock up so that I can find out the exact size of timber I need to order. I'll make the egde moulding and carve it so that I get used to the pattern. It's a bit like egg and dart in my first post on this thread, but with flowers instead of eggs.

I don't have any measurements of the original. All I have is this photograph to make it from and I'm scaling off of it with dividers.


17th. century Walnut Sansovino.jpeg
 

Inspector

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Can I ask a question? Did the traditional carvers a few hundred years ago also make models and work out the details like you are or did they carve straight off a sketch or drawing? I had always assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that it was the latter, their skills and eye being honed from a lifetime of steady carving.

Pete
 

Adam W.

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That's a good question Pete and it's something I think about a lot when I make these kinds of things.

I did a lot of research into 16th. century applied and gilded stucco frieze for picture frames from The Veneto region of Italy for the next frame that I'm making and they were modelled and cast. I'll post about that in a week or so.

It's clear that the person who carved this frame knew a lot about human and animal anatomy judging by the quality of the torso of the term figure and the Ibex, and to carve that from memory would be quite a feat in my opinion.

I've had 3 years of life drawing for four evenings a week and all day Saturday and there's no way I could do what he did from memory.

Flexible moulds for casting plaster were around in the 15th. century Venice and they used gelatine and yellow wax to make the form for mass produced stucco, but I've found no conclusive evidence that these one off frames (although this is one of a pair of frames) were modelled in clay beforehand, but I haven't really looked that hard for it. Maybe that's something for a doctorate thesis.

A fully carved frame like this was an expensive thing, as it takes a lot of man hours to complete and the gilding is unusual, as it has a gesso ground for parcel gilding. Usually it's done by oil gilding which cannot be burnished.

Although I'm speculating heavily, I would like think this would have been modelled beforehand, as it makes the carving much easier, but I'm a beginner. What an expert carver in 1500 would have done is anyone's guess, but I think it's worth finding out.

That's not much of an answer either way is it ?
 

Inspector

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No it is a fine answer. I would have thought the designer would draw what they wanted to some degree and the carvers made a reasonably close representation. I'm speculating though only because I can't recall ever seeing any old clay models kept from any project even if they were considered a throwaway.

Pete
 

Adam W.

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All the professional carvers I know carve straight from clay models which get thrown away afterwards, as they always crack badly. So perhaps times haven't changed so much in this trade.

I'm casting in plaster solely because it will be nearly two months before I get to carve it in wood and a clay model would never survive the journey from Denmark to London anyway.
 

John Brown

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Like many others, I am in total awe of your work.
As to "why do they make it a degree", I reckon the amount of knowledge you've acquired and research you've done, far outweighs a lot, if not the majority of degree subjects.
Please carry on posting.
 

Adam W.

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Like many others, I am in total awe of your work.
As to "why do they make it a degree", I reckon the amount of knowledge you've acquired and research you've done, far outweighs a lot, if not the majority of degree subjects.
Please carry on posting.
Thank you.

I'm really enjoying myself and have decided to continue to an MA, where there lies masses of curved architectural work.

I'm really looking forward to diving deeper into the subject of "how on earth did they do that ?"

It's fascinating.
 

aspire53

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Fascinating, so much to learn.
Congratulation on your decision to continue your studies. You are a natural teacher.
 

Adam W.

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Thank you all for your encouraging comments.

I'm lucky to have found the right people to share it with.
 

marcros

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Thank you all for your encouraging comments.

I'm lucky to have found the right people to share it with.
It is certainly very interesting. Have you considered how the knowledge can be retained and shared beyond this forum? It would certainly have time implications for you, but I could see potential for some magazine articles and YouTube videos. It is very well written and explained, I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar in the glossy pages of the weekend papers- unusual careers, or interesting commercial craft work is often featured.
 

Adam W.

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Thank you, but I think it'll be a bit much for me to be honest and I like the partial anonymity that the forum provides.

So what that means is that as long as you're enjoying the content on here, I'm happy to provide it, but stardom really isn't my bag.
 

Adam W.

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This is photo heavy, as it's best that way.

I've now got three casts made, one's hanging on the wall in the shop so I can keep looking at it and see where the work needs to be done.
One is mounted on a board for re-carving. The board is also the base of the new form for the final silicone mould. The last has a section of timber glued to it to form a mock up of the complete piece of walnut I'm going to carve from. I'll attach a piece of carved moulding to that and this forms the sight edge of the picture frame and I can work out the amount of timber I need to order.

To make this moulding I'll be using a selection of wooden side escapement planes and a sticking board.

I start off marking out the central fillet with a tite-mark. I like this marking gauge as it has a fine adjustment wheel on it.

Once this is marked out two grooves are cut either side of the fillet to define it and raise it up from the ovolo on one side and the ogee on the other.

To cut out and raise the fillet is the job of the snipes bill and rebate plane.

Snipes bills come in pairs and save having to turn the section around, as you can work from both directions.


IMG_0255.JPG




As they only cut on the curved side, the non cutting side can be used up against the fillet.



IMG_0260.JPG


These work backwards along the section and create a quirk for the edge of the rebate plane to run in.

Like this....

IMG_0261.JPG



First I cut into the waste side with the rebate plane to preserve the fillet and level level it up square to form the rebates when I'm at depth. It can also be used on its side to clean the edge of the fillet and make it uniform in width.

On the ovolo side I plane off the arris to form a chamfer for the hollow to run on. It needs a track formed by both corners of the chamfer to run on. Most of the waste is removed by a jack plane and preserves the cutting edge of the hollow plane.

Carve out the ovolo. You can plane it if you want, but I like to approach it as if I'm carving with these planes.

IMG_0265.JPG



And burnish it to a nice finish with some quality shavings.

No sanding is required on these mouldings as the planes give a good finish and we need to preserve the sharp arrises and small fillets that are created.

IMG_0267.JPG



That side can be done in a vice, but the other side needs a sticking board with nails sticking out of the fence to keep things in place.

The shoulder of the fillet is formed in the same way as the central fillet and the side rebated out to form the toe of the ogee.

IMG_0269.JPG


As it's a small one, a pair of no.2 H&R planes are used to carve it out.

IMG_0273.JPG


A small rebate is formed for the round plane to ride in and a chamfer for the hollow. Then it's a matter of just carving with them to form the shape required.

Like so.

IMG_0274.JPG


Blend them together and give it all a burnish and we're done.


IMG_0275.JPG


When I come to make the frame, I'll stick and carve the whole moulding in one long length and chop the miters in succession when it's all carved. That way the moulding will match at the miter.

I think that's about it for that bit and working out the carving on the sight edge moulding comes next.
 
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stuckinthemud

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Loved this thread, learned a lot, thank you Adam, regarding carvers in late medieval/early modern, the master would prepare drawings and carve maquette in plaster, or more commonly in carving wax, his team would take measures from the models. Michelangelo made a miniature of David to carve the full size from. Working from memory was not even considered as an option, DaVinci had a famous falling out with his patron for going slow on a commission, his justification being he couldn't find people with the right appearances. There is a portrait of Gibbons taking measures off a head with dividers
 

Adam W.

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Thank you.

I think you're right as its one of those trades, along with stone carving, where things don't change much over the centuries.
 

Jacob

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Normal practice for makers of all sorts to work up maquettes, models, samplers, full size working drawings drawings like joiners' rods, boat builders'"half block hulls" etc. Nearly all gets chucked away!
 
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