Friday, December 30, 2005

Wood You Have Guessed....


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Okay, show and tell time....

In my "spare" time (...imagine if there was such a thing!), I carve wood a little...mostly canes and walking sticks. They tend to have a (surprise) Florida critter theme...often aquatic critters. Lately, I've been pretty busy with remodeling, sitting on my butt blogging, and that Dad thing, so I have only finished one in 2005.

I have a dozen or so sticks and canes completed. They sit in a rod rack in the corner sporting a light coating of dust. Two have left the premises, one Santa cane for my Dad and a redfish hiking staff for my brother. In the corner are sticks with alligators, seahorse ibis, starfish, shark, fish, octopus, and dolphins on them.

In the small barn out back are some works in progress...mostly untouched this year, as well as raw sticks. The wood varies, but it is all from my property and is mostly black cherry and farkleberry (aka sparkleberry). This time of year, I walk the woods looking for branches to cut. The dogs usually tag along , the air is crisp for a change, and there are no bugs! I like that almost as much as the carving. After cutting, the ends are dipped in some scrap paint to slow the drying and prevent "checking". Checking is the splitting of the wood due to uneven drying rates. Once painted, they sit for 6 months to a year before they are ready for carving. Sadly, they sit a lot longer lately, but that's okay, they aren't going anywhere.

I am not going to get all "artsy" on you, but each raw stick has some say over what it becomes. Some are like blank pieces of paper and can become anything, but other sticks "suggest" a possibility due to a unique shape or texture. That's part of the fun.

Besides sticks, I have made a decorative drinking cup ladle thingy from spalted maple (Hick, spalted maple is maple with pretty markings caused by a fungus after the wood died) for the queen and a couple of ...odd knicknacks. My mom has a standing order for a Santa carving... like she has room for one more. She sent me a "How To Carve Santas" book and a little note to remind me. Cute.

I have never tried chainsaw carving, but there's a turkey oak stump out front that I've got my eye on...I thought I saw an alligator in it. Could be fun.

So what do you do when the urge to create hits?


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16 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

FC-- Those are fantastic. I am in awe of your artistry. I, of course, love that you see birds in the wood and reveal them. You are truly a man of many talents. Wow.

When the creative urge strikes I pick up the pen or the camera. I also play a bit with Photoshop because I see how the impressionists imagined the world. I would love to paint, but I have no talent with a brush.

pablo said...

A wood-carving friend of mine uses a type of wax that he paints on wood to keep the ends from checking. I suppose it works. He makes duck decoys and puts them in competitions. I envy folks with talent.

The sumac that grows so commonly is Missouri is favored for making canes, but not because the wood is especially great. Rather, it is supposed to have a root that turns at at right angle to the stalk, thus lending itself to being a cane handle. I've never verified this phenomenon myself, though I have a lot of sumac at Fallen Timbers, and I could spare one of them to investigation I suppose.

roger said...

your sticks are beautiful. nicely carved. i like the blue octopus. i keep thinking i'll get to smaller projects, but so far my creativity leans to construction. the last real creative thing has to be our sauna. the next might be a pond where the greenhouse was.

maybe i'll wrap the greenhouse in tinfoil after it's through moving.

vicki said...

These are beautiful walking sticks, FC! Just wonderful. I love the snake and the bird. What a fine talent. I've had fun catching up on your posts of the last few days- the Salt Run memories is a fine post. And flounder are odd fish the way they flatten out and do that eye rotation thing to adapt to life as bottom feeders. Night fishing as a teen sounds pretty good.

P.S. Create? I either tie flies-mostly nymphs- or fondle alpaca fleece with an eye towards spinning and knitting. Or cook. Or sometimes just wait and the urge passes.

Floridacracker said...

RD,
I enjoy your artistry every day. The cloud photos were great.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
Charleston, SC has a wonderful wildlife art show, The Southeastern Wildlife Art Expo. It's in Feb, I believe. I used to go when I lived up north in Savannah. Those are REAL artists. It's almost unbelieveable to see what they can pull from a blank canvas or chunk of tupelo wood.
I know about the angled roots you described, but I have never used them. I look up for branches. If it has a good angle, it's a cane, if not it's a staff.

DPR,
We need to see photos of that sauna.
I think moving a full-size greenhouse single-handedly is a work of art in itself. Don't know if I would cristo it tho ;)

Vicki,
Thanks. Do you fish those flies you tie? As for cooking, definitely an artform, even though if you do it really well, there will be no evidence it was ever there :)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I know nothing of commerce, but have you ever posted some of your stuff on eBay? Or checked with local gift shop types to see if there's a market? Stuff like you do shouldn't be hidden under (or in) a barrel.

Floridacracker said...

OldHoss,
You sound like the queen. "We should take one of these to the gallery at Cedar Key"
Like Pablo and his round rocks, I have a hard time letting go of them. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

swamp4me said...

Very nice sticks. Good of you to liberate their inner selves...

Create, eh? If the urge ever strikes, I'll let you know :)

Zanne said...

Very wonderful carvings. If you've got to limp along because of a bad knee and rheumatoid arthritis it helps to have a piece of artwork to help you in your journey.

thingfish23 said...

Those are super-sweet.

Like dpr, my creativity is usually applied toward transforming the landscape, even if by just a little at a time.

Great post.

Hick said...

My mouth is hanging open in astonishment for two reasons...

1. Those sticks are way cool. I had no idea you were so artsy...I'm jealous.

2. How did you anticipate my question? And thank you for answering.

Now, I need to go look up Farkleberry/Sparkleberry. If nothing else, it's a cool name for a tree/bush/plant. Reminds me of that old Christmas Carol cartoon with Mr. Magoo (am I dating myself here?) where little Tiny Tim sings about Farkleberry pudding. Heh!

I'm trying to get around to all my favorite blogs to wish a Happy New Year, but my power keeps going off and on due to all the rain and wind. I've been here twice to read your blog with the power going out three times already.

Anyway, I'm hoping to ring in the New Year with lights this year (unlike last year when the power was out for 2 days...ah the joys of living in the country with dial-up and old electric wires.)

Happy New Year to you and Yours.

Floridacracker said...

Swampy,
I have a hard time believing you are not creative...I've seen your photos.

Thing,
What I really want to do is carve an old fashioned lure and catch a red on it.

Hick,
You ask great questions and it was a term not used in normal (nonwoodworker) conversations...I hope you don't mind.

Happy New Year to all.

Rurality said...

Whoa dude! Those are seriously fine. Really. Beautiful.

Floridacracker said...

Rurality,
Thank you. I wish I could squeeze in more carving. I need a 30 hour day.

Rurality said...

This should definitely be your post-retirement fun-but-money-making activity.

I have seen a variety of carved canes/walking sticks at craft shows, but none as fine as these. Or as unique!