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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just a progress report to show that I haven't been goofing off entirely the past month or so.

Last year, after I cut some yew, and saw the wonderful bright orange brown of its heartwood, I decided that it would be good to use it to do a face carving based on a famous red haired drummer, Ginger Baker. It was not to be a wood spirit, but a "stick man."

While the wood was curing, I began searching the net for images. There were quite a few of Mr. Baker over the years of his long career. Tho' most famous to the public for his brief work in the Cream during the late 60s, I couldn't find many good quality pictures from the time. Also, there were few shots in profile. In the end, I had about 200 images, but many were so small as to be barely useful.

I began making drawings from some of them, trying to capture salient features.

I waited about 18 mo.s to start work. The yew had not checked at all. It seems to be permeated with a sort of waxy substance, instead of water. It is a tough wood, but as I was to learn, the grain was very easy to tear. The waxy ness makes it hard to mark. Ordinary pencils slide across the surface, and some marker inks wipe away it touched.

I think I'm about 2/3 done at this point. I've considered stopping several times after various blunders. I don't think my original goal of an elongated portrait is reachable. And there are enough tear outs that the carving is deficient. Lost about 1/3 of the nose w. a single bad cut.

At first, I did not have a way to bring the digital files into my wood working space. My old printer has failed. It would have been much better if I had at least some print outs on hand while cutting. Instead, I would scribble a few lines from the computer screen, and go to where I was carving. Awkward, and I made many errors.

A few months ago I bought a small iPod touch. Took me awhile to learn how to use it. I now have about 60 good quality images on it. Tho' the screen is quite small, it is adequate to check details. I suppose a digital picture frame would have been cheaper, and provided a bigger picture, but the iPod does let me sort thru the pics quickly, and zoom in and out.

As far as the carving goes, my main problem was not having tools small enough, and not keeping those as sharp as needed. To my surprise, the Dockyard brand micro gouges proved most useful. They were not hard enough to use on sugar maple and oak, but when sharpened before each carving session, work well on the yew.

I also bought a small set of jewlers screwdrivers, one of which is just .5 mm wide. I sharpened those into chisels, and they work pretty well, but dull easily.

My eyesight is no longer adequate by itself, and so I do almost all the carving while using a magnifying visor. I don't know what the exact magnification is, but it is somewhat better than twice my reading glasses. Beside causing neck strain from working at such close range, I usually cannot see both sides of the face at once, and so features that should be symetric are messed up.

So, a montage of the work in progress.
Forehead Nose Chin Hairstyle Eyebrow
 

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A very good likeness indeed. :thumbsu: Well done, keep up the good work and post progress please.

Ginger Baker is unique subject manner, his work with Cream and Blind Faith is legendary. I have my doubts though that younger generations will recognize him. It takes an older crowd (myself included) to appreciate his works.

Just a thought, if you have more yew here's another famous redhead with a unique look, Conan O'Brien.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A very good likeness indeed. :thumbsu: Well done, keep up the good work and post progress please.

Ginger Baker is unique subject manner, his work with Cream and Blind Faith is legendary. I have my doubts though that younger generations will recognize him. It takes an older crowd (myself included) to appreciate his works.

Just a thought, if you have more yew here's another famous redhead with a unique look, Conan O'Brien.

Mark
Saw a vid of Conan O'Brien at a "The Simpson's" anniversary tribute. He was singing the "Monorail" song, which he wrote. I'm sure he was in full make-up, but his sharp features were very clear. A good reference.

As it happened, about the time I cut the yew, there was a documentary about Ginger called "Beware Mr. Baker." The trailers for it featured him using his cane to bash the producer/director in the nose, and break it. Seemed I was destined to carve a likeness.

No doubt, younger folks won't recognize the image at all. I'm not certain if I would recognize a pic of Gene Krupa, but I do recognize his playing.

After Cream and Blind Faith, Baker went to Africa. Supposedly was the first person to cross the Sahara by himself in a vehicle. Later became involved in Polo, of all things. I found a number of pics of him on horse back, looking as grizzled and fierce as could be. I showed one shot to my wife, commenting, "Look, its General Ginger Sherman." She agreed. I also suppose that if I were to carve the original Gen. Sherman's red-head on a stick there would still be some people that would take that as a provocation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can see the resemblence. Working small gets tricky.
Here is a link to link to some docs on how to make small tools

http://www.thecarvingpath.net/forum/index.php?/topic/3250-tools-how-some-of-us-make-them/

and on netsuke in general (Great doc!)

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com/Resources_folder/Netsuke_Book_folder/Carving_Netsuke.pdf

Sometimes I'll add an edge to the very tip of a standard exacto blade and use it to 'chisel' small work.
Thanks for the links. I've tried reshaping an exacto, but the edge snapped.

The resemblance is vague. Not completely missed, but way too many mistakes. Cheekbones too high, brow mis-arched, etc. Dang, no erasers for wood carvers.
 

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. Dang, no erasers for wood carvers.
I'll give you the probably best advice I've been given, true of sculpting and carving(usually). (Also the hardest to decide to do)

"If it isn't right or to your liking, do it again" You don't have an eraser, but you have plenty of wood :) Go deeper and clean it up. Some of my hardest decisions and most rewarding (I say, mostly :)) was to clear it and do it again. Taking a sculpt I have spent several days working on and just mashing it up and starting over or having to redo an entire face on a stick to fix some lips, in the end I think I made the right choice 90% of the time
 

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I think your getting there you can see the resemblence , nice one

I know what you mean about the eyesight , i need good daylight to work well , and always need a image in front of me, it does have a effect on the balance of the image ,but your not far of it .

Always good to see something different
 

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Replicating exspresions from photos is a skill I am still working on. You are doing a great job. Look forward to seeing it as you progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
. Dang, no erasers for wood carvers.
I'll give you the probably best advice I've been given, true of sculpting and carving(usually). (Also the hardest to decide to do)

"If it isn't right or to your liking, do it again" You don't have an eraser, but you have plenty of wood :) Go deeper and clean it up. Some of my hardest decisions and most rewarding (I say, mostly :)) was to clear it and do it again. Taking a sculpt I have spent several days working on and just mashing it up and starting over or having to redo an entire face on a stick to fix some lips, in the end I think I made the right choice 90% of the time
I am going to go a bit deeper, but the worst flub is the nose. To get down far enough to make a better one, I'd need to redo the entire face. At this point, I've learned enough about this particular face that I'm inclined to do another w. a slightly thicker piece of yew. I'll have to mull this over for awhile.

One big initial mistake was that the area under the grip where I started the carving had a bunch of pin knots on one side. The side I chose to work on was concave, not convex as the human profile pretty much is. Poor choice of material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Replicating exspresions from photos is a skill I am still working on. You are doing a great job. Look forward to seeing it as you progress.
When I did portraits, I often worked from photos, particularly when the portrait was being made as a surprise. The 2nd to the last commission I accepted was done from a big bunch of photos. I was to select 4 or 5, and do a series of faces of the same person. I had met the fellow a few times a couple of years earlier, but only had a vague recollection. Only 1 photo was an 8" x 10", and the expression captured was fairly dreary. (Frankly, I think he was drunk, which is what one might expect from a rodeo clown, which he was.) The best expressions were on small snapshots. I bought a good quality magnifying glass, but found that all I had to work with was a bunch of magnified blurs. Poor photos are almost useless. Was the hardest commission I ever had, and was a big reason why I stopped doing portraits for money after 1 more job.

This has proven true with this Baker project. Most of the pics floating around the web are just thumbnails, and no amount of post processing produces anything more than a blocky diagram.

Didn't think I was jumping into such deep water, as it were.
 

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its very rare you get good pictures of something your interested in ,then there usually from 1 angle which makes the drawing more difficult.

I like to have front and both side views ,but its not oftern you get that..

I dont think a maginfing glass is much help if the picture isnt very good it just makes it worse.

What is improtant is to get the essence of the picture and you about there.Its not always a true image of something which makes it good.its much deeper than that.

i like it ,think it suits his character rough unkemp and take me as you find me type of guy
 

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Well ithink its okay and looking forward to seeing the finishedstep

tt dosnt have to be crisp and neat ,i dont think that would give you a insight into his personality and prefer the rugged look on this occasion. dont over work it . keep that rugged look it works well for this guy
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
An update on the "Ginger" stick.

First, another thanks to JJireh for the links to the netsuke carving articles. Spent some time reading about netsuke carving tools and methods. Gave me a lot to think about.

I've spent some time every day working on the piece. It continues to be sort of 2 steps forward, 1 back.

I'm running into 2 problems. With the winter light and cold starting, my north facing work area even w. a 500W work light isn't bright enough to do small detail. To cold to go sit on my south facing garden bench.

I now think the yew may not be dense enough for the level of detail I want. I know some of my problems are just finger fumbles, but too often the wood fibers just chip away. I noticed that much of the wood netsuke is made from boxwood, which is denser than yew, and van be as dense as teak. Also, that the carvers wait as much os 6 years for the wood to season.

I've decided to do a bit more work on the hair and beard areas, and then put the piece aside till spring. This will prevent me from becoming bored. And, I hope the wood will become harder w. age and let me get cleaner cuts.

Nose Eye Sculpture Jaw Gesture

Jaw Sculpture Statue Wood Artifact
 

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You have done a very good job of replicating the features in the photo. I have not carved yew. I know it is known for it flexibility. I have a friend who uses it for making bows. It may be that elasticity in the grain the makes fine detail difficult.
 

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i think you have done a great job .and should be well pleased with it .I would

I just love carvings like this very individual. and a one off and shows you carving skills. and you deserve a pat on the back

well done both for the carving and the unique idea of doing it
 
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