A few months ago, I wrote a post about laying out the side panels on this red maple bowl. Since then, the bowl dried and I carved over the surfaces again with paring cuts. By the way, calling this “soft maple” is a dirty trick. They should just call it “softer than hard maple.” Regardless, the surface is creamy white with a very subtle close grain; an ideal canvas for some decorative carving and color.
So, what to carve on the side panel? I wanted to incorporate leaves and I also wanted to take advantage of the potential depth of carving possible in the thicker lower portion of the panel. I scribbled lots of ideas, and refined some of them a bit. It’s also important to keep in mind the ultimate application of the idea; it must be carved on the side panel of a bowl. Perhaps it can be drawn, but can it be carved? I try to imagine how the carving tools can be manipulated. Would I have to go against the grain there? Will an area of the carving be too fragile to be handled? I also wanted to design something that was in harmony with the sinuous shape of the side panel itself. Some designs that might work well between parallel lines don’t adapt well to other forms.
To make a long story short, I came up with this leaf motif. I sketched it directly onto the side panel. Paper patterns and such don’t work well on an undulating surface. Besides, a little natural variation resulting from the hand sketching is interesting. Before I started carving, I even scribbled on some color with some colored pencils just to visualize some possibilities for the eventual painting. That is a whole other matter.
This bowl was a challenge to hold for the side panel carving, at 6 1/2 inches high, 17 1/2 inches long, and 12 inches wide, it was too much bulk to fit in my vise. But a peg and a couple of holdfasts did the trick. A wooden peg under the bowl is padded with a t-shirt, and two holdfasts press the bowl against the apron of the bench. Rubber belting material kept things from slipping around. These holdfasts have a long reach. I mentioned the making of them here a while back.
So now I will be thinking about color for this bowl. I enjoyed talking with Jogge Sundquist about paints a couple months ago. His fearless use of color is inspiring, and his knowledge of paints and traditions is deep. I’ve also been inspired by the work of Bengt Lidström. I’ve mentioned him before, and I am planning to discuss more about him in an upcoming post.