Mohawk Valley Art & Woodcarving Association
Sorry Folks, but ‘yours truly’ has nothing to report to you first hand. Do to circumstances waaaay beyond my control I failed to make the meeting or the picnic this month. Despite the rocky start, August did turn into a fine month, but we will get to that later. Luckily we have a first hand report on the picnic from someone who was there, George Hallenbeck. Take it away George!...
All right that wasn’t so bad. I would have loved a little detail on George’s slide show though. Maybe someone can send me an unbiased report on that. There is no way I missed that slide show voluntarily. Guess it’s time for me to make a meaningful contribution to this month’s newsletter (won’t that be new and unique!). How about a book review? To bad! Here’s one anyway. L.S. Irish has a new one out called “Landscapes in Relief”. Anyone with sharp eyes at the Lancaster, Pa. openhouse of Fox Publishing (reviewed here earlier) caught the ‘test shot’ of the book’s cover. Well, I managed an autographed copy by ordering through her web site (eat your heart out!).
Just to whet your appetite, the book starts off with a gallery of her work . Then there’s a chapter on building materials as they relate to the many barns, churches, mills, and homes in her landscape reliefs. Chapter 2 is titled ‘Pattern Work’, and includes enlarging the patterns with the ‘ancient’ grid method, drawing circle and oval frames, and transferring a pattern. This chapter also has great techniques on perspective and reflections (in ponds). Chapter three deals with carving woods. it discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the different species, has a glossary on wood buying terms, and tips on buying them. I found this section kind of useless since I tend to mooch my wood off friends, right Harold! The following chapter covers the tools and all the accessories to keep them sharp. It ends with some basic carving cuts and terms. Let’s see... Chapter 5 is a step-by-step of Mountain View Farm, the feature project. It starts of with a discussion of how to lay out the different levels of your composition, and I think the whole thing was well done. Chapter 6 is a wonderful section on painting your carving by dry brushing oils over a linseed oil base. The idea is to color stain the wood, not paint over it with opaque colors. Finally, Chapter 7 is all patterns, all landscapes. Most are accompanied by shaded drawings to help the carver determine the different depths of the scene.
IMHO ( In my humble opinion) the book gets four stars on a five star scale. It’s well worth the $19.95 price, and a great library addition for the novice or intermediate relief carver. A couple of ‘buts’ though. The photography in both step-by-step chapters (carving and painting) is in color, but has an overall brown cast. In the carving chapter this sepia tone works well, but in the painting section there isn’t enough color separation to support the text ... um... I had a hard time telling the colors apart. A second problem: Lora Irish’s artwork is wonderful, and her perspective on buildings made up of squares and triangles is flawless. It’s wonderful the way she use perspective for tricking your eye into believing the carving is much deeper than it’s true 1”+ depth. However, she seems to have a hard time with curved surfaces. Good examples of where the perspectives fail would be the water wheels of the mills ( I would have bought this for the mill patterns alone! ), the arched footbridge, and the rings and roof of the barn silos. If you use her patterns you should rework these curved items for yourself. Anyway, that’s my two cents worth. I can hear Carl Borst now, “Patterns from a book?... Bah! Humbug! Serves them right to have crooked wheels. Should be drawing those patterns for themselves!” Anyway, check her work out for yourself at Borders, Barnes and Noble, or in the latest issue of Wood Carving Illustrated.
While we’re on Wood Carving Illustrated, there
was a great article on Ian Norbury. He is a British wood carver who
specializes in busts and figures. I bought his hardcover book, “Carving
Figures” in 1996 for... well... it was the most I’d spent on a carving
book ever. It also helped me past some sticky points on a figure
I was carving at the time. Tell you what! I wouldn’t want to
judge a contest between this guy and Cogelow. So I’m reading through
this article, trying to keep the drool of the magazine, and it starts talking
about the US tour he’s doing of all the Woodcraft stores, and teaching
seminars at each one. Well I’m smiling like an idiot because I already
knew, and that’s the only good news that saved my August from being a totally
lost month. Yep, yours truly is going to be able to give you a first
hand report of Ian Norbury’s seminar in Philadelphia. I blame it
all on Dick Moran... he (and the club) made that Dave Sabol class earlier
this year affordable enough so even I could take it. Now I’m hooked...
a wood carving seminar junky... and I’ve gotta go to Philadelphia to get
my fix! Compound that with the fact that the site of the seminar
is a Woodcraft Store, and I’m in deep you-know-what. Anyway,
I’d like to tell you I’m funding it totally with woodcarving funds, but
the truth is I had to come out of retirement from my paperhanging sideline
and snag a couple jobs for room-and-food. Wish me luck, and you can
get all the gory details here, in a future newsletter (whether you want
it or not... why? ‘Cause I write the newsletter.. Bwah! Ha! Ha!).
Actually if you bribe John Raucci enough he could edit it out!
The Green Mountain Woodcarvers held their 3rd annual Carving Camping Weekend, July 24th thru July 28th. Mary and I attended Tuesday thru Friday. 18 couples camped at Grand Isle State Park, a lovely grassy open campground in the middle of lake Champlain. Cost was $5 per day or $15 per week for the morning classes, Sharpening, painting, Miniature Duck, Apple Wood Spoons and Faces on Fence posts. All very interesting. A few other members who live nearby came for a day. Mary and I had a great time with hospitable friendly people. Bill Simmons is the member who arranges for the week. He is a prolific carver of Birds, Whales etc. and does a marvelous job both with his carvings and the carving week. They want info on our show and hope that MVA&WCA members attend their 2001 Camping week. Their show is Aug. 19th, 2000 at Morrisville and they hope to see us there.