Ouch… Now What – Full Relief Carving Project

By November 3, 2015Current Project, Power Carving
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Every 4 – 6 months I try a project that I would like to be able to complete, but know that it might be to soon for me to be able to complete due to my nerve disease. This was one of those times.

I had a project in mind for months, and I know that it would be taxing on my body. I wanted to give it a try anyway to see how much longer it would be before I was strong enough to complete the carving.

This full relief carving project is a large full relief carving of grape vines and leaves. It is to be hung on the wall, and so I only need to do a normal carving. If it was to be seen “In The Round” I would need to approach the carving a little bit differently.

Here is a picture of the basic design.

Basic Grape Vine Design Image

The dimensions of the carving are 7 1/2″ x 18″ carved out of a 1 1/2″ piece of redwood.

I really like carving redwood. It carves very well, and isn’t so hard that it takes a long time to carve.

Carving The Project

I started carving this full relief carving project by taking some grape leaves off of the grape vine outside. I was able to pick leaves that would fit the size of the carving I wanted to complete. I used these leaves to get the basic layout of the carving.

Once I got leaves traced out onto the paper I laid everything out and took pictures of the leaves as they where. This gave me some great reference images for the carving. The leaves have a natural flow to them, and I wanted to capture that with in the carving.

Leaves as design element imageGrape vine image traced image

Once everything was ready I transfered the image onto the wood. I simply used some Carbon Paper to transfer the image to the wood. For doing this one carving I decided that I did not need to use transfer film. It was faster and easier to use carbon paper.

Cabon Paper Tracing image

The Scroll Saw Was Next

I used my scroll saw to remove the waste material, and open up the carving. This took some time because I did not have a very large blade. I used a number 7 blade, but really wished I had a number 12 blade. It took longer, but the result was the same. I was ready to carve.

Grape-Vine-07 Grape-Vine-08

Starting The Actual Carving

Grape vines ready to carve image

I started by using my Flex-Shaft machine to waste away as much material as possible, and establish the basic flow of the carving. Then, using smaller burrs, I established the basic flow of the leaves and vine.

Things are really starting to look good. I am now ready to define the boarders of the leaves, and then create the veining on the leaves, texture, and cast shadows.


After 2 and A Half Hours Of Carving


My hand was really starting to hurt at this point. I stopped for the day, and thought I just had dirty hands from all the saw dust I was making. But…

I ended up with blood pooling under my skin in my hand and fingers.

Hand bruised from carving

At that point I knew I would need to take much longer to carve this project than I had initially planned.

The blood was re-absorbed into my hand within a couple of days, but I decided that this project would be best carved by spreading it out throughout the next month or so.

It is a project that I am filming for the Power Carving Online School, but it will simply have to wait while I carve some low-relief projects to keep everyone moving forward with new projects.

Here is where this project stands right now: Grape Vine carving current stage image

This will be a great project once it is finished, but I will have to really take my time. The extra pain and difficulty is not worth it.

So, what does that mean? It means that I am not quite ready for carving anything and everything just yet. I will keep working on it, and one day I will be able to carve everything I have stuck in my mind to carve.

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