immiketoo

What do YOU like about figure carving?

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1 hour ago, JLSleather said:

:dunno: I just like it... never really thought much about the 'why'.

Long time ago, when I started out - I sucked at it. :dunno:  At some point, I decided to improve the skills, so I used those 'craftaid' templates so I could spend the time learning the CARVING technique, not spend the time tracing / drawing / designing.  Get the carving down, then I could worry about content.

And at some point, I decided to do a BUNCH of those templates - idea being that if 10 people all do the same design, then it should be easy to compare the skill level of those 10, side by side.  So if a person wanted one of those, I could clearly do it, but - more important -- if they wanted something ELSE, then here's a guy who can carve (well) those birds, and horses, and fish, and deer, and .... so on .... 

Here's a couple of small pics from some of those templates. 

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Every so often, though, you find someone who is skilled at both the carving AND the ability (and tendency) to teach it to the next guy.  If you haven't already, I absolutely recommend checking out Yaklady's horse carving on this site:

 

Jeff, you have truly captured the essence of Tandy kit carving.  Even the coloring is right out of the book, stroke for stroke.  Well done!  The only problem with those kits is that they teach nothing about how to interpret complex data and then manipulate or apply it to carving.  When you're told where to cut and where not to, you never really learn how to develop the intuition or skill to look at a piece of art and understand it.  Sort of like painting by number.  

You mention Kathy a lot and its funny you did it again here.  Kathy is a good friend of mine, and while we were both teaching in France a couple of years ago, we had this exact conversation about interpreting information while on a break.  It's one of the the aspects of figure carving I teach in my classes, whether live or online, because its so important.  Many people find a piece of art that looks awesome, but they start tracing it without knowing how to interpret the dark shadowy areas where there is NO information.  The brain can manage it visually and you KNOW whats there, even if you can't see it.  The problem comes in when you interpret it while tracing.  Missing data causes all kinds of derpy looking things to appear on a leather carving.

This piece was what I taught at ELWATS that year, and it is one of those where the lack of data can get you into trouble if you don't know what to look for.  Kathy did her wolf right across the hall. Good times!  At the end, you can see all the student's work.  I was proud of their accomplishments.

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You seem defensive -- did you take that as some kind of attack?@!  Weird.  I have no idea what "they teach nothing about how to interpret complex data and then manipulate or apply it" means.

You seem to miss my point.  The point of doing those "templates" is not so you can do the template... it's to get the experience with the leather.  Even the ones which were "fail" in carving, I still used for practice coloring - even though I knew I was going to pitch it when I was done.  The idea was always learn the principles needed to carve leather.  But if there were "paint by numbers" instructions for those, I have never seen them :dunno:

Kathy's horse thing was well discussed and well carved -- I've recommended it to several people.  I could do that, but I don't have that "small man complex" that causes some to duplicate another's material for the attention (or pay, or whatever).  I've never met her, and wasn't looking to date her - I just recognize that she did that little discussion very well.  Horses are hardly "original" in leather, though THOSE horses may be her original art.  You posted a number of pics.. is one of them Kathy?  She may be a "swell" gal -- but I wouldn't pay somebody to show me that ... just show me the finished picture and I'll figure it out ;)

"Many people find a piece of art that looks awesome" ... This doesn't sound particularly "original" either.  And in fairness, those USCG notebooks I made a couple of were not a "jeff original" (though I carved and colored them) nor was your "iron maiden" thing.. really not different that a stohlman scene or "figure".. just a different one.  And no "paint by numbers" tutorial for either :o

  • The pics are gone, but I was quite proud of one I did of a Santa Fe train locomotive coming down out of the mountains passing a sign (like you'd see for the name of the town you're approaching) with the guy's name on it.  Guy retired from 35 years with the RR and his son asked me for that.  BEAUTIFULLY done, painstakingly colored.  Yet, neither the mountains or the locomotive were "original" (making it look like something EXISTING was the POINT). 

You know, and I know, - but for those who don't know.. there's a reason a "shader" is called a "shader".. bop it where the "shade" is, and you got 'er.  Tooling is simple enough.. I can teach a monkey long as he aint TOO drunk. :yeah:

 

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24 minutes ago, JLSleather said:

You seem defensive -- did you take that as some kind of attack?@!  Weird.  I have no idea what "they teach nothing about how to interpret complex data and then manipulate or apply it" means.

You seem to miss my point.  The point of doing those "templates" is not so you can do the template... it's to get the experience with the leather.  Even the ones which were "fail" in carving, I still used for practice coloring - even though I knew I was going to pitch it when I was done.  The idea was always learn the principles needed to carve leather.  But if there were "paint by numbers" instructions for those, I have never seen them :dunno:

Kathy's horse thing was well discussed and well carved -- I've recommended it to several people.  I could do that, but I don't have that "small man complex" that causes some to duplicate another's material for the attention (or pay, or whatever).  I've never met her, and wasn't looking to date her - I just recognize that she did that little discussion very well.  Horses are hardly "original" in leather, though THOSE horses may be her original art.  You posted a number of pics.. is one of them Kathy?  She may be a "swell" gal -- but I wouldn't pay somebody to show me that ... just show me the finished picture and I'll figure it out ;)

"Many people find a piece of art that looks awesome" ... This doesn't sound particularly "original" either.  And in fairness, those USCG notebooks I made a couple of were not a "jeff original" (though I carved and colored them) nor was your "iron maiden" thing.. really not different that a stohlman scene or "figure".. just a different one.  And no "paint by numbers" tutorial for either :o

  • The pics are gone, but I was quite proud of one I did of a Santa Fe train locomotive coming down out of the mountains passing a sign (like you'd see for the name of the town you're approaching) with the guy's name on it.  Guy retired from 35 years with the RR and his son asked me for that.  BEAUTIFULLY done, painstakingly colored.  Yet, neither the mountains or the locomotive were "original" (making it look like something EXISTING was the POINT). 

You know, and I know, - but for those who don't know.. there's a reason a "shader" is called a "shader".. bop it where the "shade" is, and you got 'er.  Tooling is simple enough.. I can teach a monkey long as he aint TOO drunk. :yeah:

 

Me?  Defensive?  Mmmmmm... no.  Not at all, just having a discussion about my second favorite thing :P   I'm here trying to offer my opinion and perspective from things I've learned along the way.  Things that you can't find in any Tandy book.  That is all.  All the extraneous commentary about dating Kathy and originality has nothing to do with this thread, so I'll leave it at that.  
 

You mentioned learning to carve without having to bother with tracing and design etc.  This, in my opinion is the point you're missing.  Carving and content go hand in hand.  When you don't have the crutch of a craft aid, you will never learn the carving aspect.  Where NOT to cut is as important as where to cut, if you cut at all.  You may have learned how to manipulate leather, but that isn't the same as interpreting the image you want to carve from nothing more than a photograph and making it look right.  What lines should be double beveled?  What ones shouldn't?  This is what I mean.  How do you interpret what's completely black in a shadow, or completely white in a highlight?  How do you make a two dimensional image look there dimensional?  Interpreting and applying this onto leather is the difference. 

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Craftaids are a good place to start. After you've developed a feel for the leather and your tools, like Mike said, you can carve an original piece. If Kathy reads this post she will think "Huh?" and wonder if you're okay, JLS. I don't know what it is exactly, but I feel like you're picking at Mike, and I don't know why. Both of you have spent many hours helping others, so you share the same objective. Please be mindful that we are all friends here, and there is no need to go out of the way to be rude.

Charging for lessons: The old man I learned from explained that any time away from the bench cost us money. He could carve a good pic of your sailboat or girlfriend and that's how he made his money. His leatherwork was personal. I learned everything at his elbow trying to do things so he could do what only he could do, carve leather his style and the customer's way. No one is getting rich selling lessons except maybe Tandy. The lessons being offered now by Elktracks and Learnleather.com are state of the art, and expenses have to be paid. It's a fair trade, IMO, and it's helping people. Video technology has made huge strides, and most of us can understand it better when we see it, rather than read it. Most of us learned by the standard of the father of leatherwork, Al Stohlman. He was the one that wrote the books, he wasn't the best leatherworker in the world necessarily. History is always made by those who write the books. 

PS Mike, FB is holding LW's posts and shares hostage, so as an experiment I "boosted" the promo Dave made. For whatever reason they aren't showing it outside the US. I'm annoyed with FB because they want us to use them to crosslink, but they want to charge me money to share info that interests a lot of people. I'll keep you posted.

~J

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Caught me replying, so I'll continue, but let me put this in at teh top of what I started.   I don't pay for "lessons" or "classes", but it makes no difference to me if the NEXT guy does.  Not my business or my concern. Now, here's what I had started to reply...

______________

rose_paint.gifHmmm... musta read it wrong :dunno:

But if "carving and content go hand in hand", then everybody who used the craftaid would all look the same, right?  No matter.  Regardless of where I "got" it, I got it.  Here's one that is colored ONLY -- not carved at all.  It IS from a "craftaid", if I remember right.  For those wanting to carve it, simply hit it deeper where the color is richer, and there ya go (lightly double bevel down the center of the leaves).

SHOOT..... shoulda maybe added that if'n a guy wanted to , could reverse engineer that rose... go from the rose to the drawing .. just as easy ..

Edited by JLSleather

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48 minutes ago, Johanna said:

Craftaids are a good place to start. After you've developed a feel for the leather and your tools, like Mike said, you can carve an original piece. If Kathy reads this post she will think "Huh?" and wonder if you're okay, JLS. I don't know what it is exactly, but I feel like you're picking at Mike, and I don't know why. Both of you have spent many hours helping others, so you share the same objective. Please be mindful that we are all friends here, and there is no need to go out of the way to be rude.

Charging for lessons: The old man I learned from explained that any time away from the bench cost us money. He could carve a good pic of your sailboat or girlfriend and that's how he made his money. His leatherwork was personal. I learned everything at his elbow trying to do things so he could do what only he could do, carve leather his style and the customer's way. No one is getting rich selling lessons except maybe Tandy. The lessons being offered now by Elktracks and Learnleather.com are state of the art, and expenses have to be paid. It's a fair trade, IMO, and it's helping people. Video technology has made huge strides, and most of us can understand it better when we see it, rather than read it. Most of us learned by the standard of the father of leatherwork, Al Stohlman. He was the one that wrote the books, he wasn't the best leatherworker in the world necessarily. History is always made by those who write the books. 

PS Mike, FB is holding LW's posts and shares hostage, so as an experiment I "boosted" the promo Dave made. For whatever reason they aren't showing it outside the US. I'm annoyed with FB because they want us to use them to crosslink, but they want to charge me money to share info that interests a lot of people. I'll keep you posted.

~J

Thanks for the heads up about the boost, Johanna.  FB is a necessary evil, unfortunately.

35 minutes ago, JLSleather said:

Caught me replying, so I'll continue, but let me put this in at teh top of what I started.   I don't pay for "lessons" or "classes", but it makes no difference to me if the NEXT guy does.  Not my business or my concern. Now, here's what I had started to reply...

______________

rose_paint.gifHmmm... musta read it wrong :dunno:

But if "carving and content go hand in hand", then everybody who used the craftaid would all look the same, right?  No matter.  Regardless of where I "got" it, I got it.  Here's one that is colored ONLY -- not carved at all.  It IS from a "craftaid", if I remember right.  For those wanting to carve it, simply hit it deeper where the color is richer, and there ya go (lightly double bevel down the center of the leaves).

SHOOT..... shoulda maybe added that if'n a guy wanted to , could reverse engineer that rose... go from the rose to the drawing .. just as easy ..

Jeff, even professional athletes pay for coaches to critique and offer new techniques.  Pro golfers have others evaluate their swing to get the hitch out of their giddyup.  Leather carvers enter contests to have their work judged by pros in order to get a critique and maybe a prize.  If you think you have it all figured out, and you're happy, then so be it.  But, you might be surprised at what you could learn from someone else in a class setting.  

You're using a logical fallacy regarding my statement about carving and content.  "But if "carving and content go hand in hand", then everybody who used the craftaid would all look the same, right?"  Wrong. Obviously, everyone has different abilities and perceptions.  Different TOOLS.   Some have finer control of their knife or tools.  Some have better attention to details than others, and some are perfectionists, while others are not.  No matter how many people carve a craft aid, no two will look the same.  Period.   

However.  I will grant you that the results 100 people carving a craft aid will look more similar than the results of 100 people carving a portrait from a photograph.  The variances involved in interpreting the image and applying it to leather are much greater than when its spoon fed with a step by step photo carve.  Much like the dance steps where you put the shoe outlines on the floor and try to do them in order.  Eventually you might be proficient at putting your feet (tools) in the right places, but it doesn't make you a dancer.  

 

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Okay. :dunno:

 

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4 hours ago, immiketoo said:

No matter how many people carve a craft aid, no two will look the same.  Period.   

As a relative newbie to this thing called 'leathercraft' and even newer to carving, am I missing something in believing a craftaid is merely a means to an end, just a way of transposing a design on to leather so the crafter knows where to cut?

If I was a half decent artist, I could draw a picture with a stylus on the leather, but I barely know which end of a stylus or pencil is which. Is it perceived as 'cheating' or lower-in-quality in some way, if a crafter uses a craftaid?

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2 hours ago, Rockoboy said:

As a relative newbie to this thing called 'leathercraft' and even newer to carving, am I missing something in believing a craftaid is merely a means to an end, just a way of transposing a design on to leather so the crafter knows where to cut?

If I was a half decent artist, I could draw a picture with a stylus on the leather, but I barely know which end of a stylus or pencil is which. Is it perceived as 'cheating' or lower-in-quality in some way, if a crafter uses a craftaid?

You're absolutely correct.  Its to transfer a design to leather.  The same can be done with a piece of paper and a pencil.  Or a stylus or whatever.  They are handy if you want to reproduce the same image multiple times, or you have a shaky hand.  The quality is up to the carver regardless how the image is transferred to the leather.

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15 hours ago, JLSleather said:

That horse carving discussion IS amazing - but don't thank me, thank HER. :clapping:

We need a 'thumbs up' icon for this site!  :rockon:

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1 hour ago, Sheilajeanne said:

We need a 'thumbs up' icon for this site!  :rockon:

Agree! I am on a dog forum and there we have a "like" button, I miss it on this forum! 

 

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This is really holy war :)

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So I've been insanely impressed with these 3d carving and sculptures. So much so that I've tried my hand at a koi fish. For an experiment it turned out OK.  I'll upload a pic when I figure out how to resize things. But I'm really interested to know how to make it pop. How to really make the relief stand out. And how to keep the flat bits flat and formed bits formed! So far I've just used a swivel knife and modeling spoon. Tips and advise really really apreciated! 

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13 minutes ago, kiwican said:

But I'm really interested to know how to make it pop.

Carving leather is not nearly as difficult as some would like you to think.  Course, if you get thinking it's both easy and fun, then I suppose they sell less patterns and instructions. 

About 95% of leather carving is getting the moisture content right.  That's a made-up, random, off the cuff number .. meaning I just mean that's very important.  Percentage means nothing.  

To carve leather, you need good leather, and the moisture content will come quickly with a little experience.  WHAT you carve - at least at first - is IMMATERIAL. 

I used craftaids and stohlman's belt book patterns simply so I could concentrate on the CARVING.   I bought a double shoulder of 9 oz cow and cut it into strips, started making [sort of] belts.  When it was not good (i mean seriously not good) i didn't pitch it.. I tossed it off to the side in a box and started another. When I knew it wasn't looking like I wanted, I finished it anyway.  By the time I got across that shoulder (I think it was 16 or 18 belts) they didn't look too bad -- AND I had a handle on why the not-so-good parts weren't so good.  STOP THERE?  Uh..no.  I took those "fails" and practiced the COLORING.  MUCH of that failed too, some worse than others.  But I pitched em right back in that box.  Later used the same ones to test different types of finish recommended by the book and the Tandy up the road.  I didn't take their classes or groups because I could see that the people in them certainly weren't making ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE the pics in the books they were using (though that slim gal was CUTE).

Seriously, you're an intelligent guy -- get some GOOD leather, bowl o water, set of bevelers (regular and figure bevelers) and have at er.  You'll likely destroy some of the leather, but every piece can be lessons gained if you go about it meaning to "get" it. ;)

 

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Agreed. I could certainly see that the moisture content was a crucial component. I need to get a figure beveler for sure. And then like any other skill practice until ya bleed!

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Disclaimer: I am a total newbie to carving which will be obvious from the photos below. The items below are examples of the beginnings. I love carving but need much more practice. 

I hand drew the dog from a photo. While I got the essence of the shape, I didn't capture the depth in most places. I was ok with this one as I did at least capture the shape. :rolleyes2:

dog.thumb.jpg.514bbea6b5e3b1b28134f07d8436d558.jpg

The horse hat was based off a photo I saw somewhere on the internet. I couldn't find that photo again when I drew the horses so I did my best to capture the shapes from memory and reference photos of horses. I think this was my second carving and was as a whole a much larger project than I should have attempted at the stage of experience in leather craft I was at the time. There is minimal detail - I was just happy I could get a basic shape right enough a person could tell what the shape is. :P And I am lucky enough to have someone who wasn't embarrassed to wear the hat in public so it made the effort worthwhile in that way beside the learning experience.

5c5e37182b081_tooledhorsehat.thumb.jpg.8de6a7a625ab34f877abfcb27a2c6bfd.jpg

To date, I've more been practicing with cutting, beveling, and shading with craftaids for the most part. I'll try another hand sketch once I get a bit more experienced with drawing and the tools.

I can do some passable stuff (lots of throw aways) but I really do want to take it to the next level and do some really nice work. There is something peaceful about figure carving. I bet it's an even better feeling when you finally know what your doing and put out work like some of that I've seen here on LW - beautiful work that makes a person want to work harder to learn. Just a matter of time, practice, and experience.

Edited by VYO

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looks great to me!

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Very nice.

I’m buying the Stohlman books bit by bit and I’ve been very impressed with how thorough the instructions are.

You guys make it look so cool and personal! I’m just kind of concerned with how many of the tools that have gone missing, leaves, veiners, camouflagers... it kind of feels like we have to reinvent the wheel again to get the right shapes. Or am I over thinking, and the tools are out there, I just haven’t gone much farther than Tandy?

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11 hours ago, kiwican said:

So I've been insanely impressed with these 3d carving and sculptures. So much so that I've tried my hand at a koi fish. For an experiment it turned out OK.  I'll upload a pic when I figure out how to resize things. But I'm really interested to know how to make it pop. How to really make the relief stand out. And how to keep the flat bits flat and formed bits formed! So far I've just used a swivel knife and modeling spoon. Tips and advise really really apreciated! 

The hardest part about a Koi fish are the fins.  Or maybe coloring them, since white paint has a tendency to make things look like 3rd grade art class.  As for relief or pop, you may want to try raising your formed bits and then go back and re-bevel the lower bits to put them back in perspective.  3D carving is a dance between embossing and making the rest of the picture stay flat.  You can do it all with only those two tools, but a few specialized bevelers will make your life a lot easier.  Steep and regular figure bevelers are invaluable with this kind of carving.

4 hours ago, ScoobyNewbie said:

Very nice.

I’m buying the Stohlman books bit by bit and I’ve been very impressed with how thorough the instructions are.

You guys make it look so cool and personal! I’m just kind of concerned with how many of the tools that have gone missing, leaves, veiners, camouflagers... it kind of feels like we have to reinvent the wheel again to get the right shapes. Or am I over thinking, and the tools are out there, I just haven’t gone much farther than Tandy?

As I mentioned above, you can do it with standard tools if you work at it, but figure carving tools really make a difference.  

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Thanks Mike. For sure it's a dance between the pop and flat! Good to know I'm on the right track as that was what I was doing. Raise and form and smooth down. 

Thanks for the advise folks. Much appreciated !

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9 hours ago, ScoobyNewbie said:

Or am I over thinking, and the tools are out there, I just haven’t gone much farther than Tandy?

I got a bunch of the older tools on Ebay. Watch closely there though because some listings on Ebay say they are discontinued tools but when cross checked at Tandy or Springfield 'some' of them really are not discontinued.

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4 hours ago, VYO said:

I got a bunch of the older tools on Ebay. Watch closely there though because some listings on Ebay say they are discontinued tools but when cross checked at Tandy or Springfield 'some' of them really are not discontinued.

Craftool's old pre-letter tools are worth investing in.  The figure tools have the correct (read useable) shapes for figure carving.  There are 5 different tools and all are useful, but the larger sizes are the most useful.  If it has a letter in front of the number, i.e. F897 as opposed to plain old 897, pass and keep looking.  There is that much difference between the two.  Expect to pay about 10 bucks per tool for old ones.  Well worth the investment.

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1 hour ago, immiketoo said:

If it has a letter in front of the number, i.e. F897 as opposed to plain old 897, pass and keep looking.

Great tip! Thank you.

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