Monday, August 10, 2015

In the mean time, more carving

It's not that I do nothing, I'm just too much occupied with hollidays. Next week I leave the family alone and head for Switserland for some mountain climbing with a friend. But I did finish a small practice carving in cherry this time.

It's far from perfect yet, but that's what practice is for. I would like to have the flower a little larger, and the radius of the lobes of the four leaves a bit wider too. But overall, it ain't too bad. Cherry carves wonderfully, even this killn dried stuff.

It isn't ment to be perfect either. This stuff should be a bit like they made in the English renaissance, the period roughly between 1500 and 1700. And I like particularly the more vernacular pieces like they would have had on a farmstead, instead of in the best room of one of those incredibly rich nouveau riche merchants in the large cities. The things I like aren't picture perfect, they often have some naivity. I am far from an arts connaisseur, but for example, I like this from a Roman church

a lot better then this from a later Italian renaissance church.

Allthough the later is of a much higher level of craftsmanship.

This plagues me a bit when I am working. I am still striving for as perfect an execution as I can muster. Luckily in this carving business I am still very much a beginner.


  1. If you're interested in the beauty of evidence of human workmanship, I'd highly recommend you look into the works of the 19th century author John Ruskin.

    Notably The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and The Stones of Venice. The former is a shorter read and may be a good introduction to the author. The latter is a three volume treatise on... well, I'm not sure how best to summarize it. Let's say that it covers Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, and that the author strongly favours the work of the Gothic period, for what one might call its truthfulness of character.

    In fact, a single section of The Stones of Venice was published entirely by itself, due to the strength of the author's writing, and the opinions he held on Gothic architecture.

    The books are in the public domain, and available freely online. Here is a link to the portion of The Stones of Venice that was (is?) considered so important:

    And some excerpts from this chapter, which are relevant to this post of yours:
    "The Greek master-workman was far advanced in knowledge and power above the Assyrian or Egyptian. Neither he nor those for whom he worked could endure the appearance of imperfection in anything; and, therefore, what ornament he appointed to be done by those beneath him was composed of mere geometrical forms,—balls, ridges, and perfectly symmetrical foliage,—which could be executed with absolute precision by line and rule, and were as perfect in their way when completed, as his own figure sculpture.
    But in the mediƦval, or especially Christian, system of ornament, this slavery is done away with altogether; Christianity having recognized, in small things as well as great, the individual value of every soul. But it not only recognizes its value; it confesses its imperfection, in only bestowing dignity upon the acknowledgment of unworthiness.
    But the modern English mind has this much in common with that of the Greek, that it intensely desires, in all things, the utmost completion or perfection compatible with their nature. This is a noble character in the abstract, but becomes ignoble when it causes us to forget the relative dignities of that nature itself, and to prefer the perfectness of the lower nature to the imperfection of the higher; not considering that as, judged by such a rule, all the brute animals would be preferable to man, because more perfect in their functions and kind, and yet are always held inferior to him, so also in the works of man, those which are more perfect in their kind are always inferior to those which are, in their nature, liable to more faults and shortcomings."

    If it strikes a chord with you, I strongly recommend both works.

    - Andrew

  2. Maybe the fellow who carved the column capital was conscripted because his wife had given his landowner a std? crazy times back then


  3. Thank you Andrew! That certainly strikes a chord. Thanks for the link

    Just to be sure, I don't think my hacking at wood comes close to even the roughest woodcarver from Medieval times! Just don't zoom in too much...

    1. Not a problem!

      As for your "hacking at wood" not approximating some of the Medieval work, perhaps not, but it can't be too far from it! And the background stamping you've done reminds me of some of the work from the first lesson of Charles Leland's "A Manual of Wood-Carving",

      "This process of flattening, wheeling, tracing, and stamping wood, though little practised now, was so common in the Middle Ages, that there are very few galleries containing pictures with gold backgrounds in which there are not specimens of it. "

  4. Indeed!

    That's another great link from the gutenberg project. I should spend a bit more time overthere.

    When I come back alife from Switserland I'll post some pictures of the many examples I found on the Internet of these kinds of cupboards and chests. The precision of work is all over the place.