Tag Archives: gesso

A Cut Too Deep, Part 2

22 Nov

My MacGyver skills came in handy when it came to rescuing the Whale with the broken tail. Given a second chance to be completed and not abandoned, it would have a whole tail section transplant instead of an itty-bitty prosthetic!

This was what I did…

After evaluating the damage and the wood surface, an itty bitty prosthetic tail wouldn’t do because that part of the wood was too porous and it certainly won’t stick. It needed more to be permanent and a transplant was a better option to replace the whole section. A little bit more work but I felt better about this direction.

So I worked on another piece for the tail part. Luckily the Meranti piece that I chose wasn’t that hard and it was quite effortless to get the shape right quickly. But after aligning the pieces, my estimates were off! Haish… it didn’t look right and I ended up having to shave off a little bit more of the bottom part on the main body.

img_6184-1

Bottom pics: Before (L) and after (R) trimming the base to fit the new tail section

Eventually, with the tiniest nails I could find, the tail section was attached to the main body. I then added Elmer’s glue and stapled the section to secure it.

img_6189

How to add a tail to a whale, with nails, glue and staples

After the glue dried, I started puttying the piece to even out the nooks and crannies and the Whale was starting to look good. Phew! I decided to leave the staples in for peace of mind.

img_6254-1

A saved whale is a happy whale!

When I’m done applying gesso on it, you can’t tell that this fella had surgery in the first place. And once I decide what color it shall be, it will certainly look good when painted. I’m so glad I persevered on this to give it a second lease in life after that unfortunate cut that was too deep. A saved whale is a happy whale, and a happy me too!

Have Putty Will Do

13 Aug

This latest piece that I carved had some challenges. The sides were not even and riddled with holes and ‘craters’ because when I split the wood into two, I didn’t do a good job.

After carving out the whale shape, minimizing the craters, the holes were still there but there’s nothing that putty can’t fix. Having putty is essential to fix what carving can’t do smoothly.

img_4312You can’t even tell that prior to it looking like this, once upon a time there were holes. Whale #37 is looking mighty fine I might say and was okay once varnish was applied to coat the paint.

img_4310-1

 

Fresh Supply, Part 2

23 May
img_2118

The various stages of carving a Whale

With so much Meranti wood, every evening I am kept busy! When the sun is up, I would be playing golf (especially this week) but when the sun goes down, I would be carving.

The process is simple, find two Meranti blocks that are about the same size to Elmer-glue together. Then clamp it down with the work bench for a day or so before carving. And although there’s a fixed set of measurements and angles to ensure every piece is standardised, there are still some variations. After all, it’s wood that I am dealing with and the carvings are all hand-made.

The chipping, carving and initial shaping does not take long. This is the fun but dusty and messy part. If I stay focused, I usually get one piece done a night depending on what time I start. It is after the carving that the process takes longer and sometimes tedious too because every step of the way requires time or even have to be repeated.

Details on the eyes and tail take time. The eyes are usually marked, carved out first before drilling to ensure it’s perfectly round and even. For the tail, it’s the curves and corners that I have to work on. Then the sanding and filing to shape the overall curves.

Putty work is next to patch ugly holes and the piece is then left to dry, taking time because this curing process cannot be hurried. When the piece is ready—usually a couple of hours or more depending on how much is applied—more sanding and filing, creating more dust and mess. Sometimes this step needs to be repeated if the patch work is insufficient to even out the holes properly.

img_2128

Putty work: before and after comparison

But when all patch work are completed, a coat of white gesso is applied and the piece is left to dry again for another day. The next step – more sanding to smoothen the surface before a second coat of gesso. By now it’s the fourth or fifth day from the first cut.

Once I am satisfied with the surface, on goes the acrylic paint, two coats over two days. Of all the colors I have, the new Glitter Blue color is most problematic because it requires more than two coats, several coats in fact to be even.

The last process is the gloss varnish, also two coats, before the final touches are added – the felt cloth on the base, the date and my signature and voila! The piece is finally complete.

img_2121

Before and after of the final touches with felt base, date and my signature!

With the fresh supply, I find myself repeating this routine every other night with several pieces overlapping each other in various stages of the process. Tedious, repetitive but enjoyable.

img_1783-1

Working on four pieces in various stages simultaneously

Ciabatta No More

5 Nov

I managed to rework the second Gnome Home and am pleased to say that it’s a ciabatta no more! I added more Meranti wood pieces to the top and sides to give it more height and volume.

Then I painstakingly carved and filed down the addition to blend with the ‘roof’ so that the overall look is proportionate to the base. Areas where I couldn’t get it to look smooth, the wood putty did the job.

And after adding gesso to the overall shape, you can’t tell that the whole piece is actually made up of big and small pieces. Once the final touch of colors are added, my Gnomes have another home. Yay.

img_5590

img_5594

img_5628