Building a strong power carving foundation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your hobby, and your future as an artist and woodcarver. A strong foundation allows you to create the things you want without having to worry about how to go about doing it.
A strong foundation consists of many different things. When it comes to power relief carving and power carving in general there are specific things that each power carver needs to know.
As I looked back upon my journey as a power carver learning new skills, and developing an understanding of the tool itself, my personal work flow, and where I was going and what I wanted to accomplish, I found there were four areas that I really had to focus on. I still focus on each of these area daily.
To build a strong power relief carving foundation there are four areas I have identified as being essential to my growth as a power carver. These are:
- Safety, Tools, and Equipment
- Tool Control
- Personal Work Flow
- Composition of Original Artwork
I have spent a great deal of time focusing on these four areas, so let me explain why I feel these areas are important.
Safety, Tools, and Equipment
When it comes to power relief carving, power carving in general, or traditional carving with knives and gouges safety is always a consideration. Safety allows us to be able to effectively operate our tool of choice without causing harm to ourself.
On top of that many of the products we work with from the wood itself, to paints, stains, and finishes all have potential risks to them. Understanding these potential risks and ensuring our safety is extremely important.
When it comes to tools and equipment there is a possibility of purchasing many more tools and burrs and equipment that we will never use.
Having a solid foundation allows us to know what tools we want to use, purchase those tools, and not waste a lot of time, energy, and especially money on the purchase of equipment that we will never use.
Also, depending on our unique situation each of us has the opportunity to purchase different tools and equipment. Depending on if we live in the house, have a garage, have a workshop, or currently reside in an apartment all factor into what tools and equipment we should purchase.
There is a learning curve when it comes to everything we do. This learning curve may be gradual depending on our past experiences, or it could be quite steep if this is something completely new and foreign to us.
This learning curve is more a matter of practice and obtaining the knowledge about we need than it does about anything else.
To build a strong foundation in power relief carving having good tool control is essential.
As we begin carving the burrs are foreign to us. How to hold the tool properly is foreign to us. And what each burr does is unknown.
Gaining tool control is about understanding the tool that you are using, and how they can be effectively be implemented to help you obtain your desired outcome with carving.
When I began carving there was no clear road map or sign post to follow to help me develop my tool control. It was a matter of trial and error in which I had to experiment to see what each burr would do, and how the angle I was holding the hand piece would affect the outcome of each cut.
Having a strong foundation helps us to know what each burr will do and how each angle of the hand piece affects the cut. It gives us the ability to stop thinking about the tools we are using, and focus more on what we are carving and what the desired outlook of each cut will be.
Personal Work Flow
Establishing a set of steps that will help us from concept to completion is vital to being able to effectively, efficiently, and quickly moved through the carving process.
This is what is called; work flow.
Having an established work flow or steps in which we follow allows us to take some of the guesswork out of what we are doing. When we can focus on each element of the carving, and what comes next we can look to the future and see where we will do what.
Just like having good tool control, so we can focus on the artwork at hand, a good work flow allows us to add the elements we see in our mind at the right time and place during the carving process.
Part of the strong foundation is having an established personal work flow.
This may change over time, but understanding the steps necessary to complete any carving will greatly enhance your ability to finish what you start.
Composition of Original Artwork
In our world today with information abounding it is very easy to find other artists work that we can use as the basis of our carvings. There is an overabundance of information available that gives us many options.
But, as you develop as an artist I hope you find yourself longing to express yourself more independently from other artists.
In order to be able to express ourselves totally and completely we have to be able to develop our own personal artwork to work from during our carvings. Being able to create your own compositions is the only way that you can truly begin to express your deepest desires and how you see the world.
As an artist this is one of the most rewarding aspects of power relief carving for me.
How to create our own personal compositions is important for original expression.
There are many different techniques to doing this, but knowing at least where to begin, and having some options available to you will greatly enhance and speed up your artistic development and ability to create the things that you truly see and feel.
All of these things are necessary to build a strong foundation.
Without each of these our ability to develop and express ourselves is limited and will eventually lead to our frustration.
Spending more time focused on these areas now at the beginning of your journey will greatly enhance your joy and outcome in the future.