Category Archives: Gallery

The Holy Family traveling sculpture

To sign in: when receiving this sculpture, please enter your information in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

This unique piece of art was inspired by the location of the wood’s origin……Bethlehem, Israel. A good friend of mine, Steve Weidner and his family were in the Holy Land in 2014 and were purchasing some items and they thought about my love of woodcarving and purchased a log of a 500 year old olive tree from a Christian family of woodcarvers from Bethlehem, the Zacharias brothers. Steve and his family presented it to me as a gift in photo 1 (12)December 2014.

The magnitude of the gift and my appreciation for such a gift is inexpressible, so I wanted to do something very special with this log.

So as I contemplated what I would use as my subject for the carving, my first thought was the Holy Family because of Joseph and Mary’s sojourn from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What better way to celebrate the essence of this olive tree than with the depiction of the perfect family and a vehicle to lift our families in prayer.

This was my first encounter with olive wood and I was amazed with the density of the wood. It is much heavier than most of the US Midwest hardwoods and the grain pattern in this particular log is intricate and the multi-colors awesome. However, the characteristics of the wood was challenging because there were many indentations in and around the log with many splits and at the time of the carving, there was probably some moisture still in the log. So I decided that these imperfections would be a design feature in the sculpture.

photo 3 (10)photo 1 (13)I found a picture of the Holy family that I thought would work with the particular characteristics of the log, sized the picture to the log, and began the process.

 

This photo was early on in the process and I was surprised how quickly the rough in took shape in spite of the complexity in the carving, but that soon slowed as I approached the particular details of the sculpture, especially because the grain of the wood was so pronounced.

photo 1 (10)photo 3 (12)During the carving process, I was inspired to share the graces of this Holy Family sculpture with other Catholic families by allowing it to travel from family to family. My hope is that each family will receive blessings of peace and joy from the the gift of this sculpture in their home. I envision that each family would keep it for approximately a month and then share it with another Catholic family, perhaps family or friends, other parishioners, or someone in need of special prayer for one reason or another.

After receiving the sculpture, we ask that each family go to the home page of woodbutchersart.com and click on the Gallery page. Then proceed to the Holy Family traveling sculpture. We invite you to read this post, but it is not necessary to sign in. Scroll down to the bottom of this post and sign in thru the comment section. The information you post here is confidential, so if you would leave your name, contact information, your prayer request and any comments you might like to make, it will help us pray for you. It will also allow us the opportunity to track the sculpture’s providential journey and provide a map of sorts for all of us to see how God is using this sculpture to bless His people  photo 2 (9)

This page will always be available to leave comments and prayer requests because we would like to pray for you and your family. Prayer for you is the primary goal of this sculpture and the more you share with us , the better we can focus our prayer for you. We have also included, on the information card in the base of the sculpture, a special Holy Family prayer that we hope the families will pray as often as they can when the sculpture is in their possession. United in our love of God and our unique connection to the Holy Family traveling sculpture, we would like to think that we are a small unique family within God’s family that can lift each other up in prayer to our Father. As the sculpture makes its way around, our family grows and it can be a fun prayer ministry that we all can share. God hears our prayers!photo (68)

And even if this sculpture doesn’t make it to your home, you are invited to become a member of our prayer family and join us in prayer for families. Let us know and we will pray for you as well.

IMG_1085 Click here to see a short video of the Holy Family traveling sculpture.

Inspired by St. Joseph to the late Father Schmidt of St. Anthony’s parish in Morris Indiana. The Holy Family prayer

Let us Pray,

Almighty God, grant that our families be what you have called them to be. Help fathers and mothers. May they possess the fullness of your love, and may their tender care reflect your own. Help our children. Fill them with love and respect, with obedience and all the virtues. May all members of our families’ treat each other as members of the Holy Family so that happiness be theirs, and peace come to our world. Amen.

To sign in on receiving the Holy Family traveling sculpture, please use comment section below and enter your name, address, phone #, prayer requests, comments and please post comment section. Thank you and God bless!

This personal information will not be public!

Jesus on the Cross

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I’m in love with Jesus Christ. And the love that he has for each of us is beyond measure. Sharing my love of Jesus with my children and helping them acquire a personal love of God, themselves, is a major goal of my life and probably a goal of every Christian parent throughout history. One of the ways for me to share the love of God with my children was to leave them a part of me in the image of the crucifix.  A particular image of Christ on the cross caught my eye a few years ago on a Holy Saturday evening and I said to myself that is the image of Christ that I want to carve and give to my children. So I borrowed the crucifix, found a suitable piece of basswood to carve, and started the process.

Because I planned on carving at least five of these crucifixes, I thought about how I might save some time, so after I carved the original, I used it as a pattern in a homemade duplicating machine I built from plans I found on the internet. After working out the set up procedures,  it works fine, but I really don’t like using the machine because it’s loud and very dusty, but it saves time in the rough out process. As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, the progression of the carvings from band saw to rough out duplication from machine and finally to individual finish tooling. Because of the complexity of the carving, the arms and the body are done separately, so there is work in making patterns, etc.DSC01980

 

I made several mistakes during the carving of these crucifixes, but the mistakes eventually helped me to better the process. It seemed that God was saying do it this way you knucklehead. Of course it is more subtle than that, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit is with me as I try to give Glory to God through my carving. As a matter of fact, that is my constant prayer; that I will continue to grow in the knowledge of how to better serve God through my desire and ability to work with wood.

Perhaps God is speaking to you as you read this account of this carving about how the Holy Spirit is manifesting his will in your life and perhaps you can use your passion to better serve him. We often have to remind ourselves to “put out into the deep” or in other words, we need to get out of the boat when Jesus says “come” as He did to His apostle Peter. We Christians are called by God to use all our faculties in serving Him and many times it requires us to leave our comfort zones to explore our limits.
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In 2014, after I had the images blessed, I gave my three daughters and their families their completed crucifixes as Christmas gifts. I have two carvings in process for my two sons and another person has placed an order, so I have at least three more to complete, God willing….. As you can see, I’ve added tint to the oil finish to enhance the appearance and on the back of the cross I’ve added one of my favorite prayers, the “Prayer to the shoulder wound of Christ” to occasionally remind my children and those who might look at the back of the cross, of Christ’s great pain in carrying His cross. And also to remind them of the pain we might be called to endure in carrying our crosses. The great news is that we don’t have to carry them alone, Jesus is here for us.photo (60)

I hope these images of our Lord will help all those who look upon them , joy and peace,  knowing that our Lord loved us so much that He endured this kind of agony to save us from our sinfulness so that we can be with Him in eternal bliss.                                                                        photo (61) photo (62)  photo (63)

The Pieta Sculpture

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See a video of the completed sculpture at the end of this post

I love being in a relationship with Jesus Christ……. and by His grace, hear and respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. This sculpture is a response to the Holy Spirit. I was trying to explain to my priest the feeling that comes over an individual when He is moved by the Holy Spirit and I was kind of fumbling for words and my priest said to me that is an “anointing” Well, that is what happened to me…… twice, when I saw this particular 110 year old fir stump in front of a local church where I attend Mass occasionally. The first time I discounted the movement and thought to myself that it is not possible and the second time the Holy Spirit moved in me about the same project in the same stump, I took note with reservations thinking to myself, are you sure this is something that You want me to do and are you sure I can do it.

This second time was on a Thursday morning and I let the thought sit with me that day. The next morning, Friday,  after the morning Mass, I made an appointment to speak with the priest, Father Shaun, about this matter. I asked him what the plans were for the stumps that were in front of his house and he told me that the previous evening the parish council had decided to have them removed on that Saturday morning, the next morning in fact. I said OK and we moved on to other conversation and then it returned to the stump and Father Shaun asked me what I had in mind for the stump. After I told him about the inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit and the project I had in mind, he said he would call the parish council members and let them know that the next morning, that only one of the two stumps in the rectory’s front yard would be removed, because he was going to allow me to proceed with the project I had in mind. He apparently has a lot of faith.

When I left his residence, I went to a nearby church that had the model of the project that I anticipated doing and on the way there, again the Holy Spirit sent an anointing on me confirming the decision to go ahead. I don’t mind saying that I was in tears as I was praising God. So yes, this project is the result of the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I pray that it will be a blessing to all that gaze upon it,

Through the grace of God, I have become a part of the essence of this old fir tree, that has stood on this church’s grounds for over more than half of the life of this parish. Now it will continue to be a blessing to the parishioners of this church, and by the grace of God will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus and His mother, when He was taken down from the cross and laid in His mother’s arms. Many of the Renaissance artists considered art to be an embodiment of the moral and cultural values of the day. It was Dante who called sculpture, “visible speech.” My hope is that this sculpture will speak volumes about the love He and His mother have for each of us and that it somehow reflects the moral and cultural values of this particular family of Christ’s.

photo (2) During the construction process, I have taken photos at the end of each day so that you can see the progress.

Here is the first cut in this 42 inch high stump. The width of the stump in both directions is is approximately 60″. When I made this first cut, I was amazed at the color of the wood. For the most part it is very solid but there was a lot of moisture in the wood which has made the tooling very challenging and requires that I clean my tools everyday. The size of the sculpture will be approximately 75% of actual human size.

In the next photos, you can begin to see the figure of Christ laying on the lap of His mother. This is all chain saw work at this point. Look how the natural flow and length of the stump accommodates  the legs of Jesus. This was one one of attributes of the stump that caught my eye and it faces the church doors, so when you exit the church, you see the front view of this sculpturphoto (3)e. photo (4) photo (12) photo (8)

I attend Mass in the morning and spend approximately an hour with the Lord in adoration and then I will work on the project for about 4 or 5 hours each day. It is probably more of a gift to me from the Lord than it is for the parish, even though the parishioners are excited and supportive of the work.

Here’s a view from a distance and as you can see I have a canopy set up to keep the sun off my back and the latest photo to date. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

photo (5) photo (6) photo (14) Today I worked on the hand of Mary holding Jesus’s hand…. very challenging.

I have been on vacation for two weeks and today I begin anew. All chain saw work today on the back and bottom of the sculpture; my goal is to have Mary sitting on a beam. I thought that beams or old parts of crosses would be available for Mary to sit on at the actual site, to receive her Son from off the cross. I am planning at this point to put the cross behind Mary for her to lean against.

As I was contemplating this scene, I felt that it would be windy on top of Golgotha, especially after a solar eclipse, an earthquake and the killing of our Lord, so as much as I can, I’m going to incorporate wind in the sculpture in Mary’s mantle, clothing and both figure’s hair. You can begin to see the wind in the mantle from this back and these sides views. 
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         photo (19) Today’s installment…..again working on Mary’s back, slimming her down, and on Jesus’s face and neck area. Began working on the legs of Jesus. Here is a picture of me with the sculpture taken by one of the parishioners, Dianne. It gets a little more refined each day.

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photo (32)photo (31) Today’s installment…….What was interesting about today was the people that stopped by and chatted and prayed with me. I could tell that they were children of God by the way they spoke and more importantly, what they were doing at the church; Adoration of Jesus.

I’m sure it’s difficult from the pictures to see, but I worked on Jesus’s legs , feet and the arm that hangs down. You can begin to see these body parts and the hand being shaped.

photo (38) photo (36) photo (35) Today I cut in Mary’s feet and worked on the left side of the sculpture, Mary’s hand holding Jesus’s head. Notice the grain patterns in the wood. I think that these are really going to set this sculpture apart.photo (42) photo (41) Today I’m beginning the the carving of the finish details. I’m assuming this will take a couple of weeks. I began with the face of Mary trying to get the shape of her head just right I can tell I still need a little work on it before I detail the eyes, nose, mouth, hair and mantle. You can see the 6×6 post that i’m envisioning for the cross that she will be leaning against while holding Jesus.

What a great joy this is to me. Today, Theresa, a parishioner stopped by and gifted me with this Our Lady of Light medal which has a picture of the Pieta on the back of the medal with the inscription: “See how I hold my Son in death, when you suffer I hold you the  same way. I am your mother and I love you.” How fitting, I am so blessed to have this opportunity to sculpt this scene, of Jesus and Mary’s love for us. photo (45)

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (3) Spent about 3 hours today working on Jesus’s face. The work is slow and tedious at times and I’m sure many of you can’t see what I’ve done one day to the next, but that’s fine. When I post these pictures, it allows me to see the sculpture differently and I notice details that I don’t when at the site, a different perspective. For example, in this photo I notice that Jesus’s head is still too large in proportion to everything else, so the next day I will address this detail. Proportion is one of my toughest issues because I don’t have live models there to look at. In this type of work, everything is larger and I’m always moving to take off the just the right amount. I do so cautiously because I don’t have the luxury of putting it back on, like in clay or other mediums in shop environments. God bless you!

photo 1 (4) photo 2 (4) photo 3 (1) photo (47)                             I have temporarily placed the cross that I have made behind Mary to see if the size, proportion and feel of the cross will add to the overall effect of this work. And I think it does work, so it will become a permanent part of the sculpture soon. Thanks to Dave Huston for providing the material for the cross.

Today the goal for me was to put a face on Mary. I prayed a rosary for the success of this endeavor and took our “blessed” Immaculate Heart of Mary photo down from the wall of our home and enlisted her help through prayer as I was doing the work and used her image as a model for the sculpture to the best of my ability. This was critical that I not screw this up and it would have been so easy to do so, but with Mary’s intercession, all went well and I was happy with the outcome. Of course, the face of Jesus was my next challenge and then taking care of the final details. One of these was a crown of thorns I purchased on the net from Jerusalem, which I have hanging on the cross. Everyday the sculpture is a little more refined, but at some point with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m going to have to say, it is finished.  photo (49) photo 2 (6) photo 1 (6) photo 1 (8) photo 2 (8) photo 3 (8) IMG_0789 (1) Click here to see a short video of the Pieta sculpture

The sculpture has been completed and was finished on Oct 2, 2014. On that day, after I cleaned up my tools and I was done, I went into the church to give thanks to God. As soon as I entered church and before I could utter a word of praise and thanksgiving, my Lord sent an anointing within me that stirred me to my bones and I cried for probably 30 minutes. It was as if He was saying thank you to me for responding to His initial urging to do this representation of He and His mother and following it through to completion. We can not out give the Creator. I hope this image will help us all recognize the great sacrifice that both He and His mother have made for us and realize in the depths of our soul the unfathomable love that Jesus and His mother Mary have for each one of us. Immerse yourself in that love and mercy.

If you would like to see this sculpture, it resides at St. Nicholas Catholic church in Sunman, Indiana. The blessing and dedication took place on the Feast of Christ the King, 2014, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, at 11:30 am. Here are some pictures of that event. God bless all of you.

IMG_0400.JPG IMG_0410.JPG IMG_0416.JPG IMG_0420.JPG Feburary 25th, 2015 photo photo (67) A Boy Scout, Anthony Martini, recently added a sidewalk and a garden of sorts around the carving as a Boy Scout Eagle project. Everyone that has spoken to me about it, thinks it is a great addition, as I do as well. Congratulations Anthony on a job well done and for earning the prestigious Eagle Scout award. Here are a few pictures of the completed project on April 6,2016.

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HIS and ours

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The idea for this carving has been on my mind for over a year and was inspired by a similar piece portraying hands by J. Christopher White. I chose a walnut log that was harvested from my son-in-law, Jake’s, dad’s place. It was approximately 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall. DSC02647I made a model using wire for a suspended ceiling and a couple of rubber kitchen gloves filled with play-dough. As you can see from the photo, it is rather crude, but it helps with the initial chain sawing process because there is so much negative wood that needs to be eliminated.

This carving, with God’s grace, is going to reflect Jesus’s hand extending down from a crown of thorns to our hand reaching up from the depths of our sins. DSC02654

In this photo you can begin to see the hands,(mittens at this point) emerging from the top and bottom of the log.

I’m always amazed that the initial phases of the carving are so crude for so long and how during the carving process I’ll find elation in how it’s progressing some days and on other days, I almost feel like I’m wasting my time because … well, for multiple reasons; the proportioning is not exactly right, a piece breaks off and needs to be glued, I break several inner shafts in my rotary tools, it is taking way too long, nobody is going to want it, I know I should be finishing my previous carving and the list goes on and on.DSC02656

From this list of negatives, you may say to yourself, how does he stay with the carving? The answer to that is ….the elation I feel on the good days goes a long way to overcoming the negatives. The thought of the possibility that I may, with God’s grace, create a sculpture that will give Him glory and that it may elicit in others, a positive emotion about God and His relationship with us, are the reasons that I persevere.

This carving experience is probably somewhat how God looks at us. God knows…. that we all have multiple defects when compared to His perfection. Yet, He never gives up on us. As a matter of fact He loves us more than we can fathom, in spite of our failings. He hungers for us and pursues us so that we might be in a personal relationship with Him; a communion similar to the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Can you imagine our God loving us in this way? Yet He does! And as we come to know Him, we reciprocate our love for Him. And I would imagine that these small inconsequential acts of love toward God are what keeps God hanging in there with us in a similar way as I persevere on my creations in spite of all the negative emotions and situations that occur during the carving process. And I’ve learned over time, that the finished carving will eventually perish, but the graces I received and the virtues that I practiced in the creation of this carving is what will prevail.DSC02682

Here you can see that I’ve been working on weaving the crown of thorns around the perimeter of the top of the log.

As you can see from the photos, I have a ways to go yet, but the piece is progressing because God has given me the patience and desire to overcome the difficulties. At one point during the process, the entire piece split into two separate pieces and I joined them together again with glue. This is one of the problems with using logs, like I do. But I’ve come to anticipate these difficulties and don’t get upset when they do occur.

So this sculpture is a reflection of God’s love for us. In spite of our sinfulness and brokenness, God reaches out to us with His Son’s hand, a hand that was nailed to a tree, to lift us up so that one day we can experience the fullness of His love in heaven for eternity.

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The Deer Mantel

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Check out the video of this piece at the bottom of this post.

This is an attempt at carving a fireplace mantel with a three dimensional nature scene into a green poplar log. I’m excited… read how it goes.

These pictures and thoughts about this work in progress are going to be written in installments because I’m currently working on this project. I’m using a green log of tulip poplar that was recently cut off my property. I’m hopeful, but I’m not even sure at this point if my time will be well spent or the project will split and check so much that I won’t be able to salvage anything of value. It is an experiment; sometimes we have to take a chance. I’m going to give you a blow by blow summary with text and pictures of how this project is progressing so that you can learn from my mistakes or my success.

When I began to entertain the idea of this carving, I had to think for a while about  the subjects, their environment, their relationships with one another and the various depths of the different elements such as the streams, rocks, trees, rock walls, etc. that I wanted to incorporate and portray. It was helpful to me to sketch my ideas to see how they looked on paper and to move things around until I got the look I hoped to achieve.

As I was reflecting on the various depths of this carving, I thought about how my love for God has developed and has moved through various depths of commitment over time. My love for him now has a deeper, more fervent essence than when I was first a Christian or even last year because my love for him seems to continually evolve to something greater.  If you have been a serious Christian for a while, you no doubt have experienced the same phenomenon. God is constant with his great love for us, but we his creatures learn over time to love, as we experience life and mature in our relationship with him, his creatures and creations.

I thought it would be interesting and perhaps beneficial, (especially to me), to contemplate, then articulate the various steps that the growth of our love for God move through as we strive for a closer relationship with him from birth towards death (not birth till death because we are still alive). This endeavor will be kind of like making a sketch of the carving before the carving process to determine the different depths of the subjects within the carving. So if you would like to follow the unfolding of this thought, go to the “Splinters of Faith” section of this site and scroll to: “Depths of our love for God”

During this process of carving and writing about this piece of art, one of my students, Curtis Bowman, was killed in a tragic truck accident. Curtis was kind, quiet, an extremely hard worker, loved by all and one of my best students. Curtis and his father, Tim, had cut some trees and removed some stumps from my yard that autumn and one of the trees that they handled was the poplar tree that this carving is made from, so I would like to dedicate this piece of art to his memory. This memorable’ “This art is dedicated to the loving memory of Curtis Bowman” will be imbued on the back of this piece.  God be with him and his family.

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After drawing a rough sketch and thinking about the project for a while, I brought the log up to along my shop outside with a two wheel cart. I estimate that this 6’ by 18” diameter green log probably weighed about 150 pounds or more. I know I had a time maneuvering it around. Using my 041 Sthil farm boss chainsaw, I made three cuts length ways of the log roughly squaring up the back, bottom and front of the log. I left the top uncut except for about 10” on each end.

I spent some time making a sizable pattern for each of the animals and copied those to the face of the log using my sketch for placement and roughly drew in the hills and trees in the background. Keep in mind that this log is still approximately 14” in diameter. There are no splits in the wood at this time.

dm4At this point, I started to use my Sthil 025 with the carving tip chainsaw and continued to rough out the three deer, the trees in the foreground, the hills in the background, and what I hope is going to be a stream coming down from the hills.

dm3The buck deer is in the immediate foreground, so still using the chainsaw, I roughed out behind the deer as well, pretty much making this animal, an in the round or three dimensional figure; 14 “ of wood to work with makes this possible.

dm2The trees on each end of the carving are approximately 10” deep and I continued to use the chainsaw to rough them out. I sawed perpendicular into the boughs of the tree to start the three dimensional look that I hope to achieve in the tree by being able to look through the tree.

dm1The next step was getting the carving onto my bench in my shop; it is still very heavy. I began using my rotary tools on the buck deer and the tree behind the deer that will help support the antlers. Just so you know, at this time I have a couple of  ½ horse motors by Mastercarver and a dremel tool, all with flexible shafts hanging at my bench with an array of cutting tools that I have purchased from Woodcarver’s Supply. At this point I’m primarily using 3/8”, ½”, ¾” round and /or bull nose bits in these machines, but I have also used gouge chisels in areas to remove wood more quickly.

2012-11-03 11.44.29This kind of carving is hard on the tools and since the beginning of this carving I have already broken two inner shafts. On the trees I used a drill driver with an extension with a ½” spade bit through the chainsaw cuts to open the initial chainsaw cuts through the boughs of the tree as demonstrated in this photo.

The wood is starting to shrink and split since it’s been in the shop now for about a week. There was a small split across the face of the buck that has opened up to about a ½” at this point. My plan is that when the wood stops shrinking and moving, to deal with these splits if I can, until then I’m kind of ignoring them. I know that would be hard for many woodworkers to do. This is why this carving is an experiment. If this wood had a moisture content of below 15%, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. The other side of this coin however is that you would be hard pressed to find a log of this size dried unless you found it dried on the stump before decay and insects had gotten to it (God has blessed me with such trees in the past) and it would take forever to dry a log of this size in a kiln and even then it’s still going to split. I know you could laminate several kiln dried pieces of lumber or timbers to get the desired thickness, which I’ve done before, but one would have to deal with costs and glue joints in the carving.

One thing I am considering is to carve all but the final details and take it to a friend of mine who has a kiln and have it dried for a while before trying to deal with the splits and final detail work. We will see how it goes.

Last evening I spent a couple of hours on the doe deer, trying to make her three dimensional and proportional. I thought it was difficult to get there from a one dimensional drawing on the face of the carving. This is challenging and time consuming. At one point I got onto the internet and looked at pictures of white tailed deer for about 15 minutes to help me better visualize the anatomy of the deer’s head in the round and it helped.

My next encounter with the carving found me moving to the fawn, the dead tree and dealing with the hills and trees in the background. At this point I’m still not satisfied with the transitions from the front to the back of the carving in order to follow a natural flow in the landscape, but I’m hopeful this will work itself out as I continue to carve and visualize.

I’m going to let the log sit in my shop for awhile and dry to see how the splitting affects the carving.

About two months has elapsed since my last work on this piece and the wood seems to have stopped moving. Here are a couple of pictures of the 3/4 ” gap caused from the split and how I glued a piece of poplar  to fill the gap.DSC02440

 

DSC02443   Then you can see the face of the deer and the trunk of the tree repaired.DSC02450 The carving is still a ways from being completed but you can see how I have dealt with the splitting issue up to this point.

I’ve been working diligently with this carving for the past couple of weeks , a little bit every day. That is kind of a mantra with me. Since I work full time and have other responsibilities with family, church, etc.,I strive to do some small thing everyday in my shop and after a period of time, results happen. It is a disicpline and it works for me.

I was thinking about what I would call this type of carving; its not a relief carving. I’m thinking that it would be called a three dimensonal, deep relief sculpture. Any way here are a couple of pictures of the progress.owl and rabbit 1 001 I’m working on the background details at the present time; the trees, bushes, rocks and grass.owl and rabbit 1 006

A couple of weeks have passed and I have been working, when I can, on the trees in the background. As you can see in these latest photos, if you look closely, that I have opened the background underneath the boughs of the trees all the way through the carving.2013-09-06 14.24.33 This has helped me with the transition from the front to back of the carving that I was having some trouble with. All these details are happening as I do them so if I were doing it over again, it would not be the same. This is truly a one of a kind three dimensional sculpture.2013-09-06 14.25.18

It’s been a couple of months since my last update. I was wrong thinking that the log had stopped splitting and I’ve had to deal with a few more splits in the carving due to the the drying process. I started this carving about 13 months ago and the log is still moving and splitting, but I have dealt with these issues as they crop up. At this point I’m working on the detailing and it’s been slow going. Here are a couple of photos of the progress.DSC02704  DSC02705  DSC02706 DSC02703

Great horned owl and rabbit encounter

 

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This sculpture in progress was the result of my imagination trying to capture the movement in the encounter of a great horned owl with a wild rabbit in one solid piece of wild cherry.  Before thinking about a model or making saw dust, I spent time researching great horned owls and rabbits on the internet. I found some awesome videos of owls and mostly photos of rabbits that I literally studied in order to picture in my mind what I wanted this encounter to portray.

 

      2012-05-06 13.05.38  At this point, I made the model of the owl with suspended ceiling wire and duct tape and the rabbit was band sawed from a scrap piece of a treated 6×6. The cherry wood I chose to use for this sculpture is the 30 or so inch diameter log that I had purchased for the Hungry hawks sculpture, but didn’t use because I found a more suitable log the day after I purchased it. (Detailed account in the Hungry hawks story). Here is a picture of the log and the model I created to get this carving started.

With my model beside the log, I started with my chainsaw roughing out, cutting as needed to remove the excess wood. As a matter of fact that is what I’ve been doing throughout the whole process, using all the tools at my disposal, removing the excess wood, to get to the action, “the work of art.”

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As I have said the purpose of this website is to share my love of God as well as my passion for woodcarving, so as I was eliminating the excess wood to get to the art, my thoughts prompted me to think about my spiritual walk with God and how I could relate the two.

I think it easy for those of us in this kind of craft to relate to God; at least it is for me. I often think that God is the potter and I am the clay or I’m the wood and God is the sculptor and I’m constantly striving to become that “work of art” that God wants me to be. I’m glad that we have a patient and merciful God because it is tough to consistently do battle against evil. In Matthew’s gospel, we hear “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” We can attempt to eliminate sin from our lives, and we should, but even with God’s grace, we struggle and fail. We are sinners and as King Solomon said “all is vanity” or as some saints have said “all is temptation” and because sin has entered the world, even the best of us fall short of the finished “work of art” that God has in mind for us. That will happen in the next life, providing we are striving for that perfection in this life. This is a reality that we all have to live with, but it should not discourage us from wanting to get better for God, because as it says in Proverb’s 24: 16, “even the righteous man falls seven times, and with God’s grace rises again” and in 1 Corinthians 10: 13 “God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

God gives us his grace to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and pursue the virtuous life again. And in this grace we find his peace in spite of the adversity. We here in John 14: 27, Jesus say “Peace I leave you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

So, let us not be afraid to fight the good fight, recognizing through faith, his peace, joy and grace in our hearts, trusting that God is transforming us from a piece of wood, clay or stone into one of his “works of art”.

In my original design of this piece, I was too flamboyant (for the lack of another word) with what I will call elliptical circles around the creatures that I thought would enhance the presentation of the sculpture. Well I was wrong for a number of reasons. The quality of the wood in these areas was not sufficient, the circles limited my mobility to remove the excess wood with my tools and I think in hindsight that it took away from the movement that I was trying to capture in the sculpture. So when you look at these initial photos, you will see these circles which later are eliminated.

2012-11-14 21.31.48Yet another example how projects themselves often dictate outcomes. At this initial stage, I discovered a bad place in the wood of one of the owl’s wings, so I cut the bad out and joined a piece of cherry from the same tree back on. I was disappointed that I had to do that, but you have to do what it takes.

I literally have used most of the tools that I have in my shop in the completion of this project. It took a lot of time before I started noticing a real change in the initial rough out process to a more refined appearance. I was putting the work in, but the carving just didn’t change significantly over time, really trying my patience and testing my perseverance; (probably the way God feels about me on a regular basis). I felt it was kind of a ho-hum piece, but this is not surprising because I often feel this way at this stage of the process. But as I approached the end, I began to get excited because I could see the potential that I have been anticipating from the beginning.

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I decided to cut only the wing and tail feathers in on the owl and make the remainder a smooth surface, so as to enhance the movement of the piece. My thinking on this is that on seeing the action of the encounter, we would not see the small individual feathers on the body of the bird nor the fur or hair on the rabbit, therefore its surface is smooth as well. It also allows me to highlight the grain in the cherry wood, which is beautiful in itself. For those of you that don’t know, this type of surface requires lots of sanding.

 

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Here are some additional photos of the progress; I hope you enjoy this sculpture!

 

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The Pieta

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The Pieta’s Story

After a friend of mine’s father passed away, he was going through some of his things and found a Catholic calendar dated 1943. The front cover hosted a picture of a round relief carving of the head of the Virgin Mary resting next to the head of her son with her hands holding his lifeless head, representing the point in their lives when he was taken down from the Cross and laid in her arms. A representation of this moment was made renowned by the “PIETA”, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo, housed in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City . As soon as I saw the picture on the calendar, I knew I was going to attempt a similar piece, because I have always been fascinated with the Pieta sculpture because of the content and the emotion exhibited. I wanted to try to capture that emotion, especially on Mary’s face, as she lovingly embraced Jesus’ tortured body; … a lofty ambition.

I chose a piece of clear poplar that I had reclaimed from an attic of a house of a friend of mine’s, during a total rehab many years ago. I had kept the lumber in my shed all this time just for something this special. I glued two 1 ¼” x 17” x 17” together to get one 2 ½” x 17” x 17” piece of stock to begin the carving. Our priest made a copy of the picture for me and I sized it for the poplar stock.

I originally intended it to be a deep relief carving, but it turned out to be what I would call three dimensional deep relief. During the initial cuts with my router I actually cut part of Mary’s forehead off, a big mistake that I almost did not get over. I persevered because of the nature of the carving and the quality of the wood. I did not want to waste such a beautiful piece of wood.

This carving has been one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever done because of that mistake, the angle of Mary’s head in relation to Jesus and the fact that it was not a full in the round carving, but the three dimensional deep relief. During the carving process, I often thought that this was too hard and I wasn’t sure if I was going to salvage anything good from this piece. I really did pray often before I picked up my tools, asking the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother to guide me and help me.138 (2)

Just today my own mother who is staying with us, woke up crying, in a great deal of pain in her hip due to arthritis and was in need of a particular shot of medication that she receives every few months for that condition. I felt really bad for her because of her pain and the only thing I could do was pray for her, which I did. My wife and I were not able to take her to get this shot because of our responsibilities at work.

My daughter, Lindsay, still lives at home with us and this was her day off and she volunteered to take her grandmother to the doctor, who was more than an hour away. This is so typical of Lindsay because this is not the first time she has helped my mom and me out with transportation issues to and from mom’s home and our home. And it is not just transportation help, she genuinely loves and cares for her and will occasionally travel more than an hour to her home to visit with her and sometimes take her out for dinner. She also did these same kind of things for her other grandmother before she passed away.

As a father, I’m so grateful for all my children because they are all really awesome (their mom did a great job raising them), but Lindsay has a special ability to relate and connect with people and do things for people that most of us won’t or can’t do. I love Lindsay so much and the fact that she helps my mother when she is in need, allows me to love her more. This love she has for my mother makes my appreciation of her even greater. I would do anything I could to help my daughter, not just because she helps my mom, but in addition of her love for my mom.

The reason why am I sharing these intimate details about our family (I’m sure your family is similar to ours) with you is to get you thinking about the relationship of Jesus and his mother and us, their spiritual children. How much more will Jesus, who is perfect love, love his mother compared to me, a sinner who loves his mother and daughter with an imperfect love. How much more appreciation and love will God have for his children who love, care, and venerate his Holy Mother. God chose Mary to be the mother of his only Son, she had to be more than special and full of grace; She who it is that magnifies the love we have for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This explanation does not need high religion or theology; this is common sense because God has told us that we are made in his image. I don’t think that just means in the physical sense, but more importantly in relationships; loving, caring and sacrificing for those loved. We Catholics adore, venerate, and ask the Blessed Mother to pray for us to the Lord, our God. We do not worship her as many non Catholics believe, but we allow our relationship with her to bring us closer to Jesus, her son, much like the relationship I have described above with my mom and daughter (and much like the relationships in your family as well). I thank God for my relationship with His Mother and this carving is one of the ways I can show my appreciation.

I mentioned the struggle I encountered with the initial bad cut, so I want to try to explain how I overcame this difficulty. After I determined that I was cutting the background out to make it a deep relief three dimensional piece. I cut and glued a piece of poplar into that spot, which prompted me to use some color on the hair of both figures to cover up the joints created by the glued addition. This was the first time I have used any color on any of my carvings. I always chose types of wood to be the color because I liked to see the grain and the natural features of the wood. I mixed oil paint with a Danish oil treatment on a palette to get the desired color that was just dark enough to cover my mistakes so they weren’t visible. The hair on both figures was painted and the rest of the carving was finished with the Danish oil.2013-07-25 16.35.56

Another feature of this carving that is novel to my work was the addition of another medium, the cloth that served as a mantel to Mary’s head. I know a young lady from our parish, Ann Marie, who is looking to start a sewing career and I asked her to get involved by creating several mantels for Mary that we could change for various Marian feast days, such as the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Visitation, etc. I have liked the decision to bring someone else into the completion of the project because of her expertise and it is something we can share.

This sculpture was donated to our parish  a year or so ago after I had made a few additions to enhance it’s presentation and to my surprise at the beginning and throughout Lent this past year, Sister Shirley, our PLC, placed the sculpture on the left side of the sanctuary as a reminder of God’s great love for us and the sacrifice He and His mother made so that we may be reconciled with God, the Father. Here’s a couple of pictures with the additions of the cross, a crown of thorns and if you look closely, one of the nails that held Him on the cross.

photo (20)  photo (21) photo (65) Recently it was decided that the carving would be available to St. John the Baptist parishioners  to take home for short periods of time to assist with special prayer. This can be done by going online to the parish website, filling out some basic information and picking it up and dropping it off at the parish office during regular parish office hours. We hope it will be a blessing to you.

 

 

Hungry Hawks

hungryhawks A  cherry log  found along the side of the road has proved to be a wood of best quality used to carve the action packed “Hungry Hawks” sculpture, a piece that has been inspired by a couple of my favorite woodcarvers.

The Story

This carving was inspired by two of my favorite sculptors, Grainger McCoy and J. Christopher White, both who excel in bird sculpture. One of Grainger’s early works (1974) inspired the design and the motion study and the buffed oil finishes of Mr. White inspired the movement and the finish.

The wood that this sculpture is carved from is wild cherry and the procurement of this material has a peculiar story. After deciding that I wanted to carve these birds fighting over a snake, I decided I wanted to use a hard wood like cherry or walnut. It was going to require a seasoned log so I called around to several saw mills to find some that I could look at. Well I found this piece of cherry approximately two and a half feet in diameter, about four feet long which costs me $60. It took a machine to get it into my truck and it was everything I had to maneuver it out of my truck onto the ground next to my shop. The very next day I’m driving down the dead end road that I live on and I noticed this down tree laying there from a recent storm. I thought I would check it out to see if it was suitable for anything. It turned out to be a seasoned on the stump dead cherry tree. I felt like I hit the lotto because I was able to get three good sized logs from the down tree for carving purposes. After looking at one of these pieces for awhile, I realized that it would be more suitable for the “Fighting Hungry Hawks” carving than the piece that I had purchased the day before. I can’t help thinking that I was lead to that downed tree by God because I had been driving by that tree for I don’t know for how long and hadn’t even noticed it, but as soon as I decided I was going to carve these birds and had made the effort to find and purchase the cherry wood from the saw mill, this downed tree captures my attention and becomes the stock from which I have carved my most interesting and challenging piece yet. And who would of thought that one of these pieces would be the correct size and the quality of wood would have been almost ideal for this intricate carving from a dead tree along side of the road. Well as I have mentioned before, I don’t believe in coincidence and I trust in God and his providence, therefore the Lord has blessed with me with not only the desire to attempt this carving, but has provided the material to do it and has been with me throughout the four months of work. Thank you Lord! I’ve included a picture here of how the cherry log looked before I started the carving.

As I was contemplating this work, I began with a rough sketch and from that drawing I knew I would have to build a model of some kind, (which I had never done before), so I ordered some modeling clay which I actually did not use. I decided to cut some cardboard to the size and shape of the birds and bent wire (wire used for suspended ceilings) roughly into the shape of the birds and wrapped duct tape around the wire to form a model for the birds. (I know the bird looks more like an airplane than a bird). The wire ran through the birds and extended from the model birds approximately a foot and a half from two different points so that I could suspend the birds in the air. I did that by drilling 1/8 inch holes into a log base that approximated the size of the base of the carving log and inserted the ends of the wire to support the birds. I maneuvered the bird models and bent the wire to the position I needed them to be to fit with the actual carving log. I started the carving process with a 041 Stihl farm boss chain saw and moved to the 025 Sthil chainsaw with the dime carving tip as needed. Because of the complexity of the carving, I did a lot of moving of the log, cutting in from a lot of different angles trying to keep in mind the exit cut as well as the entrance cut if you know what I mean. At this point in the carving, in addition to the chain saws, I was using a 4 ½ grinder with a medium cut holy galahad cutter where necessary. While talking about tools, I wanted to mention that I’m the kind of woodcarver that uses all the tools that I have at my disposal. On this particular carving I have used just about every wood removal tool possible including rotary tools, orbital sander, chisels, knives, files, rasps, 100 to 1500 grit sand papers, including jewelry’s rouge. Other tools include measuring tape, dividers, squeeze clamps, shop vac and probably a dozen other tools that I can’t think of just now.

As the carving progressed, I continued to have the model side by side the carving stock to visualize where to cut and or grind. Emotionally, I was very excited about this work; if I wasn’t carving on it, I wanted to be. It’s like I couldn’t take my mind off of it, so much so that I had to pause and think “what are the most important things in my life”, certainly not woodcarving. I appreciate the enthusiasm that God has graced me with for this work, but sometimes I have to step back and reassess where my time is being spent because where we invest our time, there also is our heart. God tells us in his Word that if you give him priority in your life all other things will be added unto you. I believe that, but it is easy to get off track sometimes and we need to step back occasionally and look at what is important. So that is what I did and often do and I thank God for this grace in my life. I would like to challenge you to take a look at what you have invested your time and treasure in because these will be the priorities in your life at this time. Perhaps with this self examination, you will realize, yes I’m a little off course and if so make some adjustments especially with God, family and God’s people. If you are on course, which I pray you are, God continue to bless you. This sculpture is close to being completed and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know.hh4

Indiana Woodlands Mantel

DSC02353This carving was inspired by Jerry Mifflin, a well known woodcarver and one of my favorites who displays his work at Jerrymifflin.com. I encourage anyone who has a desire to carve a relief scene in a mantel to visit Jerry’s web site and there you will see that he details, with pictures, the work as it progresses to see each step. I gained confidence from a small piece and from other relief carvings that I have done in the past and so I decided to give a 6 ft. long by 7.5 in. tall by 4 in. thick piece of basswood a shot.

Of course if you have done any woodcarving, you know that there is a lot of preliminary work before the carving begins. For me, I had to call around to several saw mills to find the basswood,  find someone to kiln dry it at a reasonable price, spend time looking over the stock to find which piece would be suitable, saw and plane the stock, determine which side would be the face, and etc. Then one generally doesn’t just start carving, (although I have done this, see the story of the cedar eagle); we need a design or plan to work from.

The reason I’m sharing this information with readers is there might be someone out there that wants to do something like this but don’t know where to start. The design of the Indiana woodlands mantel took some time and a lot of that time was procuring pictures of the animals, mostly from the internet and then sizing the animals to fit proportionally into the design. I drew the design on a type of clear see through architectural plastic paper and then transferred the design to the wood. I used regular carbon paper placed under the design and on top of the wood and used an ink pen to do the tracing. I was surprised at the amount of time it took to complete the transfer;  I’m sure there are more experienced carvers out there that have better ways to do this process, but I was flying by the seat of my pants and I was learning as I was doing. These were the practical steps that were accomplished before any tool, other than a pencil and a tape measure, met the wood.DSC02354

The spiritual dimension was well under way before, during the design process and throughout, until the completion of the carving. In the beginning, I wanted to make sure that this was of God and not entirely a project of personal pride. Just from the preliminary work, I could tell this was going to take some time, so I often prayed for discernment and I was convinced after wrapping this project in prayer that God was with me on this. As I thought about what the Holy Spirit would have me say about this carving and how it relates to the spiritual life, the issue of time became prevalent and a thought about whom do we compare ourselves to.

I always find it interesting and comforting how the Holy Spirit moves in my life and I’m sure that if you’re a person of God you feel the same way. For you that don’t have that experience in your life yet, let me give you a practical, hands on, personal example how that works.DSC02356

A friend of mine, Bob, took a six month leave from his successful cabinet making business and hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2002 at the age of fifty something. A spiritual experience on the trail changed the course of his life. He came home, sold his business, and enrolled in a seminary studying for a doctorate in theology. After his hike and before he was enrolled in the seminary, he was ministering to a young man, Jim, that had a rare case of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Jim was thirty something and couldn’t move a muscle in his body, couldn’t even open his eyes, was on a ventilator and took his food intravenously, yet the doctors said that he could hear and was aware consciously of what was going on around him. Bob would go to see Jim once a week to talk, pray with him, read the Bible, and just be with him. I knew Jim because the Building Trades class I taught built a wheelchair ramp for the family as a community service project so they could get Jim to and from the doctor. I also knew the family because we all attended the same church. Bob did this for six months to a year before he went to the seminary to study. I had been down to Jim’s house several times dealing with the ramp and actually went to his bedside one day to meet with him personally. Shortly after this time, Bob stopped me after Mass one Sunday and said he wanted to talk with me about something. At that point the Holy Spirit moved in me and I knew without Bob saying anything to me that he wanted me to take his place ministering to Jim. And I told Bob, I already know what you want to talk to me about and I told him that I would take care of Jim.DSC02353

Bob went to school shortly after that and I began a seven year ministry and friendship with a man that never said a word to me or ever looked me in the eye, yet with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, we truly became brothers in Christ. I was at his bedside with his family when he died.

This is just one example of many movements of the Holy Spirit from my life that I could share with you and I know many of you have had different, but similar experiences. I don’t believe in coincidences, I trust in God. Where do you put your trust?

So time is the spiritual reflection, probably because this carving took many hours to complete and I know I had at least as much time thinking about the carving as the actual tool time. From a material point of view, time is the great equalizer in our lives as we all have twenty four hours a day. How we use our time and what we think about determines the path and quality of our life. If we could look at people’s thoughts or their actions for a period of time we could tell a great deal about their life without ever meeting them. Actions and thoughts are like peas in a pod; action generally follows thought. The spiritual life parallels the material or physical dimension in that you are what you dwell on. If your mind is wrapped in dissension and turmoil throughout the day, guess what, that is your fruit. However the opposite is also true, if you acknowledge God, ask him to forgive you for your transgressions, praise and worship him and ask him for guidance, he will bless you. I have learned about the importance of obedience in one’s life. Jesus, God himself, was obedient even to death; He chose to die rather than be disobedient to the Father’s will. God has certain rules to follow; not to limit us, but to make us whole and to allow us to be all we can be. If we are obedient to these rules (the Ten Commandments), we will share in his bounty. It is important to us, eternally important, that we follow Jesus’ example of obedience so that we will bear good fruit. I appreciate the simplicity of my life in that I can recognize these truths and choose the path that will bring joy, peace, and eternal happiness.

What about you? Are you happy with the things that your mind dwells on and the fruit in your life? If your answer is yes, that’s great as long as you choose to let God have a part in it, however, if your answer is no, and you are not happy with the path your life is taken, may I suggest Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just spend time with Him and you will be amazed at the transformation in your life. Go to Him and let Him bless you.DSC02350

The next step in the process of carving the Indiana Woodlands mantel was to determine the different levels of the different design features to gain the feeling of depth and being drawn into the carving. The maximum depth of the Indiana Woodlands mantel is one and half inches, at the deepest level. At the time, that was the deepest I could go with the tooling that I had available. Subsequent carvings, (The Covered Bridge, Lindsay’s graduation gift, The Pieta) have more depth to them and reflect more the quality of the much admired deep relief work of Jerry Mifflin. That was the other thought I had about this carving and the spiritual life. Who do you compare yourself to?  I obviously chose Jerry Mifflin as someone to emulate for this particular carving because I think he is the best at carving deep relief mantels.

A teacher friend of mine, Bradon, is an avid hunter and makes custom turkey calls in his spare time and sells every one he produces. He has been thinking about expanding his part time business so he attended the national turkey hunting conference in Tennessee last fall and he was going to check out the custom turkey calls that were being produced and sold at the show. Before he left, I suggested to him to find what he thought was the best custom turkey call at the show and compare his calls to that those. That’s what he did. If you want to be good at something or at least want to get better at what you are doing, compare yourself with the best.

Again, in my humble opinion, the spiritual dimension follows the physical, in that, if we are comparing our preparation for eternal life with the un-churched or even the average Joe in the pew, good luck; but however if Jesus, his Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, the apostles, and the countless other Saints of the Church are our role models, we are well on our way. Jesus sets a higher standard when He says in the Gospel, “Be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”. However, in order for us to strive for this higher standard and for the Saints to have an impact on our lives, we need to read and reflect on Jesus, the Bible and the lives of the Saints to get an understanding how they in their particular circumstances strove to become all that God was calling them to be, many times overcoming great difficulties to do so. This helps us find our way, following in their footsteps and while doing this we are putting in our minds in tranquil places, (as we reflected above about time) and we can’t help but reap the rewards.DSC02352

When I completed the actual carving of the Indiana Woodlands mantel, I then framed it in oak and used pieces of   ¾”x ¾” oak inside corner to trim the carving out. My choice of finish was three coats of Penofin, a natural penetrating oil finish, a product that I have used extensively throughout the years.

This mantel sits on the rock wall that encases the fireplace in my home.

Cedar Eagle

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Here is another example of finding the carving wood while walking in the woods and using another element to enhance the overall outcome of the piece. Read the interesting Cedar Eagle story  

 This carving followed and was unlike the Walnut Eagle (the carving that the original idea didn’t work out and became a bird), because I started with the butt of a red cedar tree and had no idea what I was going to carve, and it became a bird.  I was walking through the woods looking for potential stock from overturned trees with the root system still attached.  I was still enamored with the success of a similar type of downed wood that became the Walnut Eagle (read the story of the walnut eagle) and I thought I might be able to create another interesting carving, although I didn’t have a bird in mind at that time.DSC01602

 The Cedar Eagle was one of the few carvings that didn’t have an idea, model, picture, or a design to begin the carving process. I just started my chainsaw with the carving tip and began cutting away all the dead and unusable wood. Then I moved to a 41/2” grinder with a holy galahad carbide cutter to begin to shape what I decided about that time was going to be a bird. I finally had a basic plan and it continued to evolve as I was working. There was a feature of the tree trunk, the three roots that protruded from the base of the trunk that I wanted to incorporate into the finished piece to make it interesting. I accomplished this by carving them to look as they had grown around a rock and as one of my nephews pointed out to me was that they also kind of became an extension of the bird’s claws.   OK …….. Although you can’t see it in the picture of the carving, I detailed the feathers in the cedar eagle and put three coats of penofin on the piece for the finish.DSC01604

 As I was reflecting on this carving, the idea of not having a plan stuck with me and I started thinking about the plans we have for our lives. I’m talking about those deep and almost all purposeful plans that we as young people only seldom think about but we know are there; those nebulous dreams about vocations, marriage, and family.  It’s almost like when we become aware of them we find that that they have always been there. Where do we want to live, do we want to be married and if so the kind of person we want to marry, how we are going to raise our family, how many children, what values we will stand for, what do we want to do with our life and on and on.

We didn’t seem to have a recollection of making these plans, but they were there. Anyway, as I look back on my own life, that was the way it seemed to me. It was like that God had a plan for me and I slowly became aware of it as I got older. I know I was a slow learner, hard headed and selfish, and because of God’s great gift of free will, I ran into countless detours and road blocks for many years before realizing what I believe to be God’s plan for my life.  DSC01533A key component of that plan is an awareness of the relationship God wants to have with all of us.  I had my own agenda and I wanted to do it my way, not God’s way. My independence and my dependence on sin were more important than submission and obedience to God. What an idiot.

My prayer for you, the reader, is that you allow God to love you sooner than later and let him be the pilot of your life so you can learn to fulfill a heavenly plan for your life. It will be far greater than any plan you can imagine for yourself.