Remember those old Westerns, where some old-timer would be sittin' on the front stoop, whittlin' a piece of wood, with a piece of wheat stickin' outta his mouth? I remember wondering why on earth anyone would do this! Seemed like a pretty big waste of time to me (as if watching countless sitcoms during the '70s was time well spent).
Well, 35 years later, I'm happy to report that I finally get it. :)
I began carving just last February out of sheer necessity - I had to make a set of stamps to be replicated for a mixed media class I was teaching, so I grabbed some Speedy Carve™ and got to work, knowing nothing about technique or tools. The stamps turned out okay, but I carved too deep in many spots and the original stamps became pretty weak. I'm glad I have them in bulk, or they'd be gone forever! Here's one of those original stamps I made:
Even without the benefit of knowledge or even any skill, I was HOOKED. I began looking into battleship grey linoleum, which led me to wood (I still carve both). It was also at this point where I began voraciously reading any book I could get my hands on that would teach me proper carving techniques. And last November, I took my first woodcut class with the super-talented Angie Zimmerman at Sheboygan Visual Arts (read all about that fantastic experience here).
With a little more knowledge and practice under my belt, I began to relax a little and really enjoy the rhythm of carving. For you hand-carvers out there, you know what I'm talking about. :) You just enter a zone. And once you're in it, you find yourself whiling away hours doing something you enjoy immensely. My routine is to plug in my tablet into my stereo system, find the Miles Davis channel on Pandora, turn on my Ott-Lite™ (that I got for SUPER cheap thanks to my friend Janel!), and get to work.
Here's a piece I'm currently working on - I'm using my micro gouges, as it only measures 4" X 5" and there are some tiny spaces to carve (my favorite!). Can you guess what it'll become? :)