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 Woodcarvings by Maura

Carving Foliage

Jean writes:

I'm wondering if you can give me two suggestions. I'm
carving a native California Live Oak onto a small oak
and mahogany tabletop. Two things you did on your
Naturewoods sign caught my eye. I'm roughing out my
design into 4 layers, layer number 4 being the deepest
background, then using the other three layers for
foliage and branches. I am considering leaving a 1/2"
border all around the edge of the small tabletop
(15x15) and wondered if you used a router to leave the
top-level border around your sign. If so, what router
bit did you use? It's hard to use the plunge router
and leave a straight border, so I'm wondering if you
just carved the whole thing by hand. I don't know if
you use power for roughing out, or whether you
hand carve everything, but,  I love to
set up my layers with the router. I plan to use a
straight bit and just move the fence over so the
design gets set-in 1/2" from the edge--wondered if you
had a different method (other than gouges only.)

I reply:

Hi jean,  yes the border on the naturewoods sign was routed out, using a plunge router with a straight cutter bit, perhaps called a flush trim bit?  It is a standard router bit.  The lettering was also all routed.  I then used hand chisels for cleaning it all up.  The top of the sign with the tree trunk part was all hand carved.   I am a big fan of the router to save time, especially on signs.






Jean writes:

Secondly, I can't see the detail of how you carved the
foliage in the pic you posted, but I like the look you
achieved. It looks detailed without being too fussy
(my design is quite stylized, but I want to detail the
layers of foliage and branches after I set them in.)
Did you just use various sweeps of gouges on your
foliage/branches, or do you use any power tools there.
Because I like woodworking, too, I use lots of
power/hand methods in my work.


I reply:


The trunk and the branches were hand carved using chisels and gouges. the leaves were made by gluing layers of woodchips on top of each other! I sealed them with a couple layers of thick poly. I thought it turned out neat.  My son was walking thru the workshop while I was working on the carving and commented on how the woodchips sitting on top looked like leaves and "bang"  the inspiration hit me. I love when silly things like that achieve a fabulous effect. People who have seen this sign comment most about the tree.  I have carved other foliage also.  take a look at this



This foliage was created using a round ball cutting tip with a rotary tool (dremel).  It was a bit tedious but not awful hard to do. Just let the ball carve holes of all different levels.  group the deeper holes together randomly which will achieve depth. 


also look at this  


these leaves were made quite differently.  I actually went out and collected real leaves and traced them some overlapping) onto the wood.  then carved them out to different levels then added some curves to each leaf by making one side or the other, lower or higher.  using a v-tool, I then carved in the veins of the leaves.  I then used very diluted oil paints to tint them a bit.  then I took a wood burner and burnt the veins in again and sealed it all up with poly.   So you see there are many ways that I create foliage, I'm sure every carver has their favorite ways.  The mood of your carving will dictate your style of creation. 


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Maura Macaluso

Staten Island, NY



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carving in nyc

NYC New York City Artist 2011

Copyright Notice
All rights to this material are reserved. No part may be reproduced, photocopied or reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written consent for authorization.
Original patterns contained herein, may be purchased by individuals and used to complete their own personal carvings for sale or show, as long as such sales or shows are not through licensed commercial businesses.
To that end, the author encourages the use of purchased material for personal and educational use. Mass production and other commercial use of the material herein, is strictly prohibited by law.