To celebrate Heartwood Art carvings being featured in upcoming issue of Woodcarving Illustrated the “Follow My Carving” series was created to give you a an insider’s view on how the art is made.
If you carve enough trees, sooner or later you’re bound to come across a weak part of the wood and either break a branch or remove it on purpose. This is one of the reasons it’s important to modify the design to coordinate with the actual blank you will be using. Sometimes, though, you just won’t know until you begin carving. The wood around this branch was weak, so I chose to remove it. I’ll simply shape it so it looks like a natural break of a limb.
If you’ll look through the gallery, you’ll see that I choose to incorporate broken limbs into some of the original designs. These are small branches that were never meant to attach to anything other part of the carving. If you choose to do this, design it bigger than you intend for it end up. Because it is only supported on one side, it will likely break near the tip end. So, just plan to make it shorter as you carve.
One other thing to keep in mind is that as you carve and make the limbs and branches smaller, the entire structure becomes weaker and it will begin to bow. You may have to hold some of the limbs flat or give them a little support on the opposite side of your carving stroke. If a unintended limb does break, you’ll have to decide how to incorporate it into the carving. It’s not very hard to do. As the famous Italian sculpture, Michaelangelo might have said, “Fuhgeddaboudit.”