The client had a maple tree that had been topped for years before she purchased the property. As a result of the pruning the tree had become unsightly and structurally weak. The client wanted to honor the tree by having something carved from the stump and decided on an Earth Goddess to bless the garden nearby. The tree was also recycled as much as possible. The ground up branches were used as mulch for the landscaping on the property and some of the branches will be used to border the flower beds. Some of the larger pieces of wood were given to a woodworker to be made into artistic creations with the rest to be used as firewood to heat he friends’ homes in the upcoming winter. Even the waste from the carving process was used as kindling. I marked the tree for the arborist and the process begins.
The stump was left about 7 feet tall with the carving designed to take full advantage of the shape of the tree. The roughing in process starts by removing the bark and finding the basic form of the figure.
The figure is starting to take shape. The center line is marked vertically and then marked for the figure. The figure was based on a 7 ½ head scale of the human body. In this case a head height was 8”. I will stretch the figure just a little and shorten the arms a couple of inches at the end of the project. This will give the Goddess a little more presence.
Here is the original concept drawing given to the client. I say concept because the drawing is just a starting point. As the carving progresses changes usually take place, especially with tree carving. There are always unexpected knots or other defects that cause changes to be made. As the carving progresses ideas about what can be done and how improvements can be made happen and the carving evolves during the process.
All the major forms are in place and some detail work is beginning. The face, hands and robe will begin to be refined. At this point as the carving is being done little cuts are made on the robe etc. to give cleaner lines and flow. The hands and face are very rough but will change quickly with just a few cuts.
The robe and arms have been thinned down and some elements added to create interest. I have begun to lay in the main flow patterns of the hair with hand tools. The neck and face are beginning to take shape. Carving a head is a full round process, the entire head is worked all at once. By this I mean that when the neck is cut back then the face has to change shape which also means the hair changes. So no one area can be carved to near completion without making adjustments to the surrounding areas as you go.
Everything on the body is now a matter of refinement as all the forms and curves are there. The hands and face will require more detailed work as can be seen in the photo. The features are drawn in and carved followed by detail work. The same will be done with the hands although the hands are hands in shape only. The client did not want really detailed hands. The face is intended to be human shaped although not totally normal. There was the intent of creating a human like face so the eyes were exaggerated as were some of the other features.
The finished project with several coats of finish. The finish is a mixture of equal parts of mineral spirits, linseed oil; and spar ureathane. All that needs to be done is to clean up and landscape.
A close up look at the face and the exaggeration of features. Human but not so human, who would expect an Earth Goddess to look like the neighbor next door?