Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beginners' Bumps

Hand-carved fleur-de-lis
Ever since I saw master carver, David Easterly's stunning work at a New York gallery last year, I have been on a quest to learn how to do what looks like the impossible with wood. Truth be told, I pestered Mr. Easterly to teach me how to carver but he refused and told me to teach myself as he did. My research into locating a teaching carver told me that there aren't too many wood carvers left in the world and even less who are willing to share their skills.

Unlike the UK and Germany where there are still a few State supported crafts' guilds, the US long ago abandoned its belief and support of arts' guilds. I was about to give up my search for a carver who could teach me intricate carving techniques when I web-stumbled upon David Calvo of Gloucester, MA. and last week plunked down a reasonable chuck of change in exchange for one of David's five day wood carving classes. It was money well spent and in just a few days I walked away with a lot of tools, knowledge and a lot more hunger to carve!

A love being a student. I like learning new things but I don't like being a beginner. I want to be an expert while only being a novice. The destination is better than the rolling roads that take you there. Or so I thought. Once I gave over to the not knowing; to the learning, to the sound of wood being scooped by steel tools; to the realization that there's no secret way to magically transfer a life-time of practice into a few days of study, the dust in my head began to settle and I gave in to being a beginner. 

The fleur-de-lis pictured above was the final project from the five day class and provided many lessons. The greatest challenge was carving grains that travel in opposite directions within the same section. David's thirty-three year's of experience made it look easy but all five students struggled with making their cuts smooth. I plan on carving several more fleur-de-lis in order to get it right. If all goes well and my neighbors don't have me evicted from the noise caused by the mallet meeting the steel carver tools, I'll start a foliage project. Until then, I'm enjoying the curves and bumps in the road of being a beginner.
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