Frequently Asked Questions
Learn about my process
How do I acquire your work?
My carvings are acquired primarily on a commission basis, meaning a client contacts me and explains what they would like carved. After listening carefully to what the client would like, creativity begins as I design and carve the sculpture. The design is approved before the carving begins. An exception to this is when I carve masks. If it is a human face I am carving, I usually let the creativity happen as I am carving into the wood. If the mask is an animal, I usually draw the mask first in order to figure out how to position the animal mask over a human head.
This process is opposed to being limited to having to choose from something in a catalog or on a store shelf. This gives me the ability to produce a carving specifically tailored to the client's individual tastes and desires. Each sculpture I create has its own unique character, no two are the same.
What kind of wood (or stone) do you use?
I use many different types of wood or stone, rather than list them all, I will explain what affects my decision on choosing a material for a project;
There are a number of factors that go into the decision of choosing the type of material I will use. Listed below are a number of considerations I take into account when choosing the material:
Will the sculpture be placed outdoors or indoors?
- Some types of wood and stone perform better than others outdoors. Examples of wood I use for outdoors are White Oak and Mahogany.
- Some stone performs better than other stone outdoors due to the destructive effects of acid rain.
Will the wood sculpture be painted, stained or left natural?
- If the piece will be painted, then I typically will use Basswood or Pine due to the fact they are a pleasure to carve and readily available.
- I use Pine for masks because it is light-weight and the mask smells pleasing even after many uses.
- If I am carving in relief, a wood such as Mahogany is a great choice because it is a mid-tone colored wood (allowing both shadows and highlights to show) with little distracting grain pattern. If stronger shadows are desired, Basswood is a good choice because of its light color and little distracting grain pattern.
- If the piece will be stained or left natural, then a number of other considerations are taken into account. For example, does the wood need to match existing woodwork i.e. molding?
- Sometimes I use a couple different woods for the contrast in color; an example of this would be a crucifix (corpus-cross) or a rocking horse (horse-rocker).
Ultimately, my vision for the finished sculpture is what determines the wood I use. Color, grain pattern and availability are but a few factors that I consider when choosing a type of wood to carve.
What is the process of transferring your vision for the sculpture from your mind to the final piece?
- First, I draw my vision of the sculpture on paper. I may do this several times before I am satisfied. I take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the material I will be carving. This is important to the longevity of the sculpture.
- If I feel a model would be of help then I will make a model out of clay or Plasticine using the drawing as a guide.
- When I am ready to carve, I will use the drawing or model to take accurate measurements from. Using this system, I am able to systematically create a sculpture out of wood or stone that originated as an idea in my mind.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
- When I design/create a human figure (often a Biblical figure or saint) I want to portray the true character of the figure. Therefore I research as much information on the person as possible, especially the moment in time I will be portraying the person to be in. I enjoy the challenge of creating the appropriate balance of expression, movement and harmony in all of the figures I carve.
- When I design/create animal figures I study the animal's behavior patterns. I will pay particular attention to the position of the ears and tail. This is accomplished both by personal observation and through books. I then try to capture what makes this animal unique.
- Ornamental/Architectural carving is generally a stylized representation of plants in nature. What I find important is to give a sense of harmony and movement to the design.
- A lot of my inspiration comes from studying nature. I pay close attention to shapes, Not only the endless variety of plants, but wind patterns observed from what the wind blows or picks up and whirls in various ways. I use these shapes to help give my sculptures a sense of harmony and movement.
- I study body language of both animals and people. This includes the many subtle differences in facial expressions and hand gestures (in humans). This helps me when I am trying to convey a particular emotion through my sculpture.
- The Bible is full of stories that I get countless ideas from.
Do you paint/finish your carvings?
- I do paint (watercolor, acrylic, oil, tempera) as well as stain
or clear coat my woodcarvings.
- In addition to the above mentioned finishes, I apply gold/silver leaf
(both oil and water techniques) to my carvings when appropriate.
- If the sculpture is marble and will be outdoors, I apply a clear sealant
to the surface to protect it from the elements.
What is your favorite thing to carve?
Although I truly am passionate about whatever my latest sculpture is
that I am creating, if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be the
nativity scene. There is something about the way God so humbly chose to
come and dwell with us... The entire range of emotions and expressions
of humanity are at my disposal to be used to convey that humble scene in history.