Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sail Fish - A NEW PUPPET

Once again, it came to pass that a new puppet be started.
During the building of the last puppet - the Murray River Princess - I sketched down a silly idea following a similar concept as the Big Cod...
And was soon refined and in line as the new puppet to be created.

First things first...I had to find a good piece of wood.
As many of you know, I use salvaged Australian woods...this leads to many new challenges for a puppet carver to tackle. One thing I decided is that I wanted a light shade of wood for this puppet to help bring out the colour of the fish. Here is where I had my first many of the woods I had gathered were dark in colour such as "rosewood" or "cedar"...even the "ironbark" I had was of the red variety! After looking high and low, I soon settled on a chunk of "greygum" and then it was clamped up and inspected as to where the puppet would come from within the wood.Heres where another challenge is faced. Australian Gum variety of woods are...well...HARD!
It wasnt a simple matter of putting the half log in the my bandsaw is set up for fine cutting with a thin blade.
It was then when I remembered one of the great carvers I saw in Czech Republic...He did all his "blocking out" using a chainsaw.
So, it was out with the chainsaw to cut me a slab from the log. And what fun it was too!
Now it was time to use the bandsaw and shape the slab...And once I had the rough block cut to shape...It was onto the challenge of rounding out the form. I always do my best to use the hand chisels for as much of the work as possible...and although I did in fact try to block out the was not getting the results I needed due to the hardness and texture of the wood. So I grabbed the Arbortech Mini Grinder and went to work on the form...Although purists may scoff at using such tools, I cannot stress enough how great these work! They are an Australian product, made for working hard on woods like Australian Hardwoods!Now it was time to settle into what is known as "the rhythm" and begin on the facial features of the fish. For this task, hand carving tools were definitely the weapon of choice as they enable complete control in the details. Hand tools worked well here because the area was small, refined and required only small amounts carved at one time.Now if you know your fish, you will notice that this sail fish doesnt have the long pointy nose that they are renowned for. There are many reasons for this, but rather than give away the end result (although in one of the pictures you can get a glimpse of what direction it might be taking), I shall simply share that the following stages are in preparation for that very nose!
And once more, I had to "clean up" around the face a little and add the eyelids...All up, it has been a very productive day on this puppet!
I will keep posting the progress, so be sure to check it out.

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