Carve this Barn Owl
Thursday 22 October 2009
Ian Edwards carves this elegant barn owl, in lime
Just recently I had the fortune to see a barn owl returning from a hunting trip, still carrying its prey and this inspired my latest carving, my third sculpture of a barn owl.
This carving is an adapted version of an earlier sculpture of a barn owl, Nightwatch, that I originally sculpted in clay. This piece has now been cast as a limited edition bronze.
I used the original sculpture as my model, but this time wanted to make a wall hanging piece to keep it in line with my current style. To do this, I have sanded the piece and kept the lines clean. This carving will also be cast in bronze.
As always, collect good references and model a small replica of the piece. I have used a block of wood that is screwed to the carving, keeping it in place.
98% of this piece has been carved using power tools, the largest proportion of this has been achieved using the Powerfile, Arbotech and the Sintered Carbide Tools on the flexi drive. If you would prefer to use hand tools, feel free. The process is still the same, but replace the burrs with U-shaped gouges.
First, work out the movement and proportions of the barn owl in clay. Familiarise yourself with the finer details and form of the bird. I have used Nightwatch as my model.
Photo 1: Mark out the shape of the barn owl on your chosen piece of timber. I have chosen to use a piece of lime wood
Photo 2: Using the arbotech, start roughing out the main form. The downside to the arbotech is that it can easily remove more timber and fingers than desired
Photo 3: Continue using the Arbotech until you can start to see the full form of the barn owl
Photo 4: Once you have created the outline and general form with the arbotech, you are ready to move on to using the sintered carbide burrs
Photo 5: Using the power file, start to shape the body. Turn the power file down to its lowest rating in order to gain maximum control over the tool
Photo 6: Now using your sintered carbide burrs, start to form the shape of the face, eyes and beak. Once again, be careful not to remove too much timber
Photo 7: Once you have formed the rough shape of the face, pencil on the details of the eyes and beak. Use a 4mm (5/32in) veiner to mark out the outline of the face
Photo 8: Using the power file, start to shape the owl's tail feathers
Photo 9: Check the form of the bird from the side. See that you have correct movement in the head and body
Photo 10: Repeat step nine to form the opposite side of the piece
Photo 11: Check that the general form of the face is in proportion and correct. If so, you are ready to start shaping around the eyes
Photo 12: Using the cone-shaped sintered carbide burr, start to create a more definite shape around the beak
Photo 13: Still using the cone-shaped sintered carbide burr, start to create the depth around the eye
Photo 14: With the diamond burr, go around the outside of the eyeball, creating a division between eyelid and eyeball
Photo 15: At this stage, all the main proportions need to be in place before moving on to any finer details
Photo 16: Draw on the flight feathers ready for carving
Photo 17: Shape the flight feathers using the Powerfile with the speed turned right down
Photo 18: Drill out the centre of the feathers in preparation for cleaning out the wood with a No. 4 fishtail
Photo 19: The flame-shaped sintered carbide burr is ideal for getting under the main body and tail feathers
Photo 20: A No.4 22mm (7/8in) gouge is ideal for cleaning up around the head and body
Photo 21: Go over the whole piece using 100grit carbon paper. You will now start to see the whole carving take shape
Photo 22: Draw in the detail around the eyes, emphasising the crease that runs away from the outside of the eye
Photo 23: Use a 1mm (3/64in) veiner to carve the details around the eye and crease, emphasising the tear duct
Photo 24: Create a nice clean round eyeball, using a No.3 5mm (3/16in) detailing gouge
Photo 25: Undercut the beak using the detailing gouge, creating the hooked beak
Photo 26: Ensure the tip of the beak is tucked in tight to the downy feather of the head
Photo 27: For the details to be sharp and crisp, your carving tools need to be razor sharp
Photo 28:A common mistake in carving an owl's head is to not give the face enough depth
Photo 29:The background has been carved using a macaroni. Lay the tool on its side, making small uneven cuts towards the centre
Photo 30: Sand the overall piece starting with 100grit working down to 500grit. To seal the carving, use spirit-based sanding sealer. Go over the whole piece with 0000 wire wool to give an excellent finish