Pewter class, wherein I learn to carve wood.

So tonight I was introduced to using wood as a mold for pewter and got to try my hand at carving some cedar, which had a very prominent and pretty grain that added a lot of character to the piece I was making. 

The first suggestion was, make a feather, so I started sketching feathers but they all just looked wrong with the grain, so I decided to go with a leaf, my old standby… 

However the wood was significantly harder than expected and so carving was a much less detailed process than I am used to (which is to be expected with wood, I just didn’t expect quite this much lack of detail). I finally made some progress using a dremel to essentially burn out the wood, first with a round tip, but that gouged more than I wanted, then with a large burr like tip, which worked pretty well but I was having trouble controlling it. I went to the sanding tip, and that allowed for a lot more control, but made it very slow going. Finally I had a general shape of a leaf cut so I went to pour some pewter into it, and it looked really rough, mostly from air bubbles, so it was suggested I make a channel to pour the pewter in (like we’ve been doing with the soap stone) and that was when I finally figured out how to use the dremel with control! So with that newly gained knowledge I smoothed out the mold and tried again. 

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I then went to work trying to make the sprue larger, and accidentally caught the paper towel in the dremel, sending my mold flying across the room, and the dremel wrapped tightly in the towel. I was kind of amazed I had the good sense to hold it away from me, and then turn it off within a second of it happening instead of panicking at all. 

Now with a larger sprue, and with the mold clamped together in two places, we poured again

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It kinda looks like a whale to me! or maybe a fish.. I’m going to take some of this upcoming long weekend to try carving with my own dremel and wood working tools on some bass wood and see how that works instead. (Purely by coincidence, I had interlibraryloan send me 2 books on beginning wood carving that I picked up today, so I should be good for a little bit) 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. johnklompmaker
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 12:18:57

    Hi Stephanie. My hobby is wood carving. I know nothing about pewter, accept to use dishes made from it, but I really like the effect cedar had on the finished piece. The grain of cedar is strong. Your comments caught my attention because I am finishing several pieces of cedar, whales in fact, and understand your comments on how tough it can be. I also note your comment on bass wood. Compared to cedar, carving bass will be a dream. However, bass wood has very little grain to give your pieces texture, on its own. The bass will hold detail that you put into. A question comes to mind, will the bass wood hold up to the heat of molten pewter as well as cedar does? Look forward to your next attempt. Shalom.

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  2. Trackback: Wood-Carving Basics: Simple Tips For Beginners To Live By | Cotton Ridge Create!

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