Try Different Shapes, Winds & Angles

It is difficult at this long range to tell you exactly what tools to use, how to use them, and what the finished carving will look like. If you are not sure which tool to use for a given effect, try out different shapes, different winds and angles, until you get the results you think will be most effective. It's your carving and you are the only one who knows what it is you want to do. You are the one who has to be pleased with the results and, if it satisfies you, I would leave well enough alone, once you have decided you are going to write "Finis" to the piece.

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Here I would like to make a comment. Any creative work that is undertaken to present an idea can be overworked. When this happens, the final result will invariably be stiff, awkward, and less pleasing to the beholder than would be the case where the work has been done with a feeling of freedom and pleasure in its execution. One day this past summer I was modeling the feathers on-the wings of an eagle when a stranger wandered into the shop and began asking questions. I have made it a rule to continue with my work until I find out whether the visitor is seriously interested in the sort of work I do or if he (or she) is there out of curiosity. If the former, I willingly stop work and discuss the carving at hand and the reasons for it.

If the latter, I usually keep on with what I am doing. You can lose a lot of valuable time answering questions that are of a general nature if you stop work to satisfy curiosity. So I kept on making the long sweeps and this man watched me for some little while. I could see that he was fascinated with the way the cuts developed. Finally he asked me if he could try a cut . . . "it looks so easy." I replied, "Sure, if you want to buy the eagle, you can." What else could I say? It so happens that people will sometimes ask you quite impertinent questions, too. I had four women come into the shop some years ago who offered advice about my work. I didn't mind. I kept on working. I guess they were trying to show each other how much they knew about my work and why I was doing it all wrong.

A seagull. Wood sculpture in tiger maple by Charles G. Chase. This and the two following Imagegraphs of his work show the radical changes made by using modern techniques and tools as compared to the traditional methods. Both result in decorative interpretations of ideas in wood. (Courtesy Charles G. Chase, Wiscasset, Maine- Sculptor)

Some of their remarks were quite amusing and some not quite so funny. I might say here that all of them looked as if somebody had thrown a lot of curves at them that got stuck in all the wrong places. The shortest and loudest of these women finally asked me why I didn't carve the human form divine and stop work on eagles. I thought this over for a moment and decided I had taken about enough. So, I very carefully put the tool in my hand back into the tray, walked around the four women and looked them all over very carefully from head to foot. They got slightly embarrassed as I did so. I walked back to where I had been working, picked up the carving tool, started to make another cut, stopped and quietly asked one question: "Whose?"







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