A New Improvement for John Deer

There is always room for improvement – Right? I’ve never been happy with the base I made for my John Deer sculpture. Recently I have been learning how to turn wood on a lathe so I turned a base out of Maple for the piece. I think it came out well. At first I used gloss varnish and the wood looked beautiful. But I felt that it was too distracting so I used a flat varnish. I would appreciate any comments you have and you can respond to my email or on my Instagram account.

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Cowboy 2022

So after assembly and trial installation Cowboy is finished. I feel good that the sculpture resembles the image that is in my mind. It has been almost 3 years. From tip of horn to tip of horn it’s almost 6 feet across.

136 Thorns

I thought after almost three years of changes, redo’s, mistakes, and experimenting with new techniques 136 Thorns is an appropriate title as I near the completion of my latest sculpture – Cowboy. It has clearly been a labor of love. These thorns are the tips of toothpicks that I primed and painted to be inserted in the rose vines circling Cowboy’s horns. Each vine had to have a hole carefully drilled in it for the thorn. After all were in place each thorn was meticulously touched up with paint. Indeed there have been many thorns along this path of fabrication. I had not originally planned to make thorns on the rose vines. It occurred to me towards the end that they would be an appropriate addition. As an artist if I feel something is needed in my work that will contribute to the overall effect then I do my best to create it. Here are a few more details of this sculpture that were a labors of love (thorns).
The roses and leaves were hand carved and are delicate and easy to break. Experimenting with different types of wood I found the the softer woods wouldn’t hold up as well as hardwood and easily broke. Maple trees are abundant on our property so their wood was a good choice for the roses. I found that hardwood is more difficult to carve than soft. Cowboy’s teeth were each hand carved maple as well.
After experimenting with paint I decided that I didn’t like brush strokes so I chose to airbrush each leave and rose with primer and then acrylic paint. The effect was softer and mimics the real thing.
Getting the horns correct was difficult because of the curving and tapering aspects. I redid the horns several times until they fit the image in my mind. The vines around the horns also took several attempts. I found that bamboo would bend nicely when steam heated and made great vines.
After carving the vines each was attached to the horns with glue and tiny screws. The final stages of the green vines required a special masking tape so that when they were airbrushed the overspray wouldn’t land on the white horns.
The skull presented its own challenges. While Bass wood is soft and an excellent carving wood it is too porous to support two heavy horns. So a better support had to be fashioned to hold the horns.



At first I tried thick oak dowels and didn’t think it would be strong enough so I replaced them with a threaded steel rod which supported the horns nicely. So these were some of the issues with creating this piece. Each was eventually worked out and completed to my satisfaction. Only a few little things need to be done. Stay tuned for pictures of the finished piece.

Fabulous Beasts

Several years ago I carved the rabbit on the far right. While I liked it there was something about it that didn’t work. It was the coloring so about two months ago I took it off the wall and applied several coats of gesso so I could repaint it. I carved two more rabbit like creatures and plan to include them in the series I’m calling Fabulous Beasts. They are an interfusion of varied animal characteristics that suggest the possibility of an extraordinary world.

Western Theme & New Subjects

Recently I started a new piece called Cow Boy. It will be a Neanderthal style skull with longhorn steer horns. I liked the John Deer sculpture’s humor so I thought I might carry the idea a little further.
I have refined my techniques and feel that I am picking up speed. Being located in Gold Bar, Washington a very peaceful and quiet place helps me to really focus on my work.
I bought this steam tank and hose and made a wood bending/steam box so that I could bend wood for my projects. For instance the longhorn steer horns would be stronger and be produced faster by simply bending the wood rather than gluing multiple pieces of wood together.
Of course to bend wood properly you must make a wood bending jig like this one I made. I will be testing this out soon with some maple branches I cut from my trees recently.

A Southwest Direction

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Just finished a new sculpture called “Mesa”. The overall size is 24 inches wide, 22 inches long, and 12 inches deep. This is another work created for my ongoing series of western images. This particular skull and scorpion focus on the southwest.

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The scorpion was created by making a wooden armature and then adding layers polymer clay over the wood. The bison skull is made of cedar wood and the backboard is wood with polymer layers and sand. All the objects are painted with acrylic paint.

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The time it took to create “Mesa” was much shorter than the previous pieces, about three months. Now that I am more confident with my techniques and materials I hope to be able to generate more work in a timely fashion.

I have three more works in various states of completion. The next sculpture that should be finished soon will be “Medicine Box”.

 

Exploration and Current Work

The dust has finally settled at my new home in Washington and I’ve completed “Fall” my latest wood sculpture. This piece took me several years to complete due to working full time and packing up and moving. The sculpture measures 43 inches wide by 29 inches high and has a considerable amount of detail.

The detailing of the antlers was made to look like tree branches. Here I employed a new technique using an epoxy gel applied directly to the wood and then sanding and refining the veining. Each leave was hand carved. The leaves have veins carved into them before painting.

The backboard to the skull is made Camphor wood which was lacquered to a high gloss. I love this particular wood because of it’s wonderful grain. My next post will show more experimentation and some new directions.

Present and Future Work

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Before adding antlers to my new deer skull I decided to use it for a photography composition which I will later make a graphite drawing from. My new home in Washington state has some wonderful woods surrounding it and I wandered around and found some things to add to my photo composition.

My new work will be created for a future gallery show I hope to have somewhere in Seattle. The show will consist of my sculptures and graphite drawings based on my photography. I need to pick up some steam so that I have plenty of work to approach a gallery with.