Boxwood Blunder

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This is the closest I’ve come to working in clay.  Over the winter, I was asked to design and carve a pottery chop, a.k.a. pottery stamp, featuring the ABS initials of the ceramic artist.  I had even been supplied with a lovely turned piece of boxwood along with plenty of extra in the form of a branch section.  After sketching a number of designs, I meticulously carved the letters into the end grain of the boxwood, looked at the results, patted myself on the back, then realized I’m a bonehead  (see below).

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As most of you immediately noticed, I forgot to draw and carve the letters in mirror image!  After beating myself up, I carved a new double-ended blank (as suggested, for large and small pots) from a piece of the boxwood branch and started again.  The top photo shows the results of my test in some clay.  The larger is dime-size, just under 3/4″ (18mm) in diameter.  The smaller is about 11mm, or just under 1/2″.

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I sent along my bungled one as well, thinking maybe it could be used somehow for the molding of a positive stamp of some sort.

This was also the first time I had carved boxwood, and I’ve been missing out.  It’s no wonder it is revered for so many special uses.  This stuff is amazing in its fine grain and ability to hold detail.  It’s hard to describe — maybe like carving a hard wax, but better.  If you find anyone trimming some big old boxwood hedges, save some and dig in.

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11 Responses to Boxwood Blunder

  1. Talented and human, are there no end to your talents.
    Thanks for posting your errors as well, it makes your work seem more attainable for us mere mortals.

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  2. I use it for hinged spoons wherever possible and I agree it’s wonderful stuff to carve. The Bretons described it as precious wood. I have recently been given half a dozen biggish logs…

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  3. Tone says:

    I just looked up boxwood and started to get excited wondering if my front hedge is box! But I think it is Box Privit (a hybrid of box & privit perhaps?). Privit is a similar plant but different [ref. https://hedgexpress.co.uk/2014/12/01/wildlife-hedge-common-box-buxus-sempervirens-privet-ligustrum-ovalifolium/ ]. I don’t know if the wood has similar properties (yet!) but our hedges are more than 50 years old (could be upto 140 years old) and you’d be lucky to get more than a few small diameter logs out of it and you’d destroy the shrub (hardly a tree). It is quite small and the bark is very coarse & hard. Box Hill in Surrey (the focus of the Olympic road race & London cycling) is named after the Box that grow there [ref. the Ladybird book of Trees 😀 ].

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    • Dave Fisher says:

      I’ve carved some privet, and it is hard with a fine grain — much like boxwood, but not quite there. From what I understand, most boxwood has a very slow growth rate. I suppose the ideal situation is to find an old hedge that is being removed.

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  4. Tone says:

    Looks like my front hedge, and my neighbour’s, are boxwood 🙂 Another neighbour recently mentioned he has a hornbeam hedge [ ref. http://www.wood-database.com/european-hornbeam/ ]. The first neighbour also has an extensive beech hedge :). I’m starting to look at hedges in a new way 😀

    Lovely e to carve that small (I have a feeling you arecaligraphy David. Which is harder/more satisfying, the caligraphy or the carving? What tool(s)/techniques did you us going to say “just my pocket knife” :D).

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    • Tone says:

      Sorry about the last post, accidentally moved some text. That last para. should read:
      Lovely caligraphy David. Which is harder/more satisfying, the caligraphy or the carving? What tool(s)/techniques did you use to carve that small (I have a feeling you are going to say “just my pocket knife” :D).

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      • Dave Fisher says:

        Hornbeam and beech will are good hard woods for spoons and the like. Hornbeam can be a little stringy — but there are different varieties. There are so many subtle differences….hardness, density, texture. For example I also tried to carve the chop in a sample of lignum vitae (very dense) that was sent along, but I found it to be relatively course and unable to hold the detail.

        I enjoy both of them, the designing and carving of the lettering. The two are interdependent, and I like the challenge of keeping the execution of the carving in mind as I’m drawing.

        The main tool I used was the pocket knife pen blade, but I also did some careful sliding/slicing cuts along the tightest curves with a small gouge. I’m expecting the day when I’ll also need some glasses as a tool for work like this.

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  5. Richard Motz says:

    I Am Also A Bone Head ,Same Blunder On First Try ! It’s Hard To Get Good Help ! On Apr 27, 2017 4:56 PM, “David Fisher, Carving Explorations” wrote:

    > Dave Fisher posted: ” This is the closest I’ve come to working in clay. > Over the winter, I was asked to design and carve a pottery chop, a.k.a. > pottery stamp, featuring the ABS initials of the ceramic artist. I had > even been supplied with a lovely turned piece of boxwood a” >

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