New project! Selkie hiking stick… WiP

I’ve been busy with a new challenge since I got back from Japan – carving a realistic face “in the round” on the head of a hiking staff. It’s gone well! 

Here’s the progression from start to the point I’ve reached now:

  
Meet Selkie! Mostly due to space constraints, she’s carved with a wet hair design – which made me think of selkie. They’re a Scottish (I think) myth, of seals who could shed their skin to become women, then slip back in to return to the sea. I’ve left bark at the bottom of the staff that will be carved with seal silhouettes, maybe shaped into waves at the top under her head and hair. 

Here’s a better look at the carving as it is at the moment!

  
Still some smoothing out to do, but overall I’m really really happy with how she’s come out. The wood is a gorgeous colour, so I might stay away from linseed oil as a finish this time as it tends to give a slight yellowish tinge.

More updates once she’s complete!

Catch you later,

Annabelle x

Long time no see!

Hey guys! Been a long time. Went on holiday to Japan for a few weeks, which was amazing, then lost track of the blog a bit!

Saw some cool carvings over there – the carvings and decoration on the buildings and shrines was very recognisably Japanese. Interestingly though, carvings around hiking sites that we saw tended to look so similar I style to what you see here in the uk! These guys were at the base of Mt. Rokko near to Arima Onsen in Osaka;   

 
In terms of wood working supplies, hands down the best place to shop was Tokyu Hands. They have stores all over the country, and sell everything, for everything. Like UV blocking gloves, Halloween outfits, wood blanks (wuhoo!), fancy soap, kitchen supplies… Everything you can imagine. 

   
 
They also had gorgeous carved hand planes, which I don’t use but wish I’d bought anyway…

  
Beautiful!

We did loads over there – started up in Tokyo with a couple of my closest friends, then moved down south to Osaka and Hiroshima. Hiked, kayaked, ate a lot of great food. Took one of my hiking staffs for a test run too! 

Got a new staff in the works, as well as starting to sell on Etsy and setting up a Facebook page! More carving updates soon – challenged myself more with the latest to carve a full head in the round on the staff. It’s looking good so far!

Catch ya soon!

Annabelle xx

http://www.facebook.com/TalkingTwigs

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TalkingTwigs

 

New stick carving – wild boar

An exciting new project! This one is pretty special – it’s the hiking staff I’m going to be taking to Japan with me. Chris and I are planning on going for a couple of adventure filled weeks to Tokyo then Hiroshima. We’ll be visiting two really good friends who are living in Tokyo – and doing some hiking nearby. I couldn’t pass up taking one of my hiking sticks to give it a proper test run.

For a challenge, I decided to carve something different to my usual woodspirits. Here’s the initial designs;
IMG_1316
Wild boar are on their way back in a big way in Britain; the offspring of escapees from trendy farms finding a foothold in Britain’s woodlands. I like that idea – carving an animal that is a part of my country’s past and present.

The final carving came together as well as I’d hoped! One of the habits I’m trying to get out of is just carving surface detail – so, I pushed myself to make the flow of the bristly fur deeper to really inform the overall shape of the head.
IMG_1201
I’m really pleased! While there are a lot of things I know I can work on for my next carving, this represents a big step forward for me in terms of detail and new subject matter.

Here’s some snaps of the work in progress;
IMG_1146
I’ve actually just been to my parent’s house for the weekend, and my Dad helped me convert this into a hiking staff that can be separated into two halves. Powertools! Lots of fun. There’s some finishing touches to go on it, then I’ll pop some pictures up.

Stay classy!

Places I’ve been slacking off at instead of writing a blog post

Hey, it’s been a while! I have no excuse, but I was thinking about wood related blog posts while out and about!

I have been snapping pictures as I went, and I’d like to share some of them with you – not only has it been gorgeous weather here in West Yorkshire but we’re also surrounded by some beautiful British countryside and parks. A great combination! Ironically, I’m writing this to the patter of rain on the windows.

First up is one of my favourite places to go for a wander after work – Golden Acre Park. Grass, trees, sunshine and wildlife! It’s near to Otley, and is a series of walks that take you through landscaped parkland, rough mud paths and a boggy wildlife park. IMG_1150 This is the first time I’ve ever seen a woodpecker. It was pretty special. I have it on Google’s authority that it’s a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The woodland around there is beautiful and serene – lots of interesting fungi all over the trees. I don’t know why, but fungi always seem to make woodland feel more magical.

Next up is the Otley Chevin. It’s right on our doorstep, but I don’t get up there as often as I’d like. The views across the town are gorgeous, the buildings and lakes spread out close enough to see but far enough away to be impressively small. They even call the highest point “Surprise View”, which tickles me for some reason. But, these pictures are from a diversion we took by the White House. IMG_1152
There’s a patch of grass dedicated to these carvings of warped instruments. A lot of them are half completed so someone must be in the middle of a project up there – I wonder where they’ll end up? Looks like they’re being carved in wood cut from the local trees.

Aha, the Humber Bridge! 1.38 mile long suspension bridge near to Hull on the East Coast. It was the longest of it’s kind when it opened in 1981 – it got beaten in ’98 by Japan’s Akashi Kaiko bridge. It’s a couple of years older than I am but still going strong! IMG_1154
The walk across gives some cool views of the bridge reaching across to the other side. It was really windy, so we could feel the whole structure vibrate! Also, slightly entranced by the waters of the Humber – because of all the mud swilling around the water all the way along was a deliciously smooth chocolate milkshake brown.
IMG_1156
Almost next door to the bridge itself is a little nature park filled with these chainsaw carvings. Some of the artists were at work in the park, but on lunch… so no peeks of them wielding powertools. I love the carvings in the bottom two pictures. They’d set up trays made from lengths of roughly chopped wood to lay out bird seed and fruit on, which these are a part of.

Finally, everyone needs a little adventure in their lives…IMG_1160 Pirate Adventure Golf at Xscape in Castleford. Part of the course involved us taking a raft across a small (very fake) river to get to the next hole. ‘Nuff said.

Got a big work in progress going on at the moment – my most ambitious hiking stick carving yet! Updates on that next time 🙂

Over and out!

xx

Of shopping, planning and why my partner is a legend…

So, a new Axminster store has opened up in North Shields! My friend and I arranged to go, and my partner offered to drive us up there from Leeds. Despite the fact that he’d gotten so tired of driving through the week, he happily ferried us up there for a day out instead of having a lie in and a day off. Legend of a man!
IMG_0931We got there by 9.30am, determined to get our hands on the goody bags promised to the first 200 arrivals. Pushing through the doors with an excitement usually reserved for birthday presents and Christmas mornings, we had our first glimpse of the shiny new store. First things first – I wanted those freebies. Approaching a man wearing an Axminster hoodie manning a coffee machine in the corner, we asked hopefully if we were in time for the freebies. Turns out they’d opened a little early and given them all out an hour before. The shop guy told us they had knives and tools in them and we should drive back up tomorrow – a disgruntled shopper with a goody bag said all he got was a piece of sandpaper and a screwdriver. Still, I do like the freebies.

Inside the store was smaller than the Nuneaton Axminster, but the packed shelves still held plenty to provide a few hours of good browsing. And so many beautiful machines!
IMG_0930Lathes. Ooh I would love to have one of these. An artist was giving demonstrations on a lathe in front of a large panelled window, carving out apple after apple from spinning wooden blocks. Every time I see one being used, I have an urge to pick up the tools and get my own. I could talk myself into the expense, but then comes the question… where on earth will I put it?! Getting some ideas for projects already, but they’ll just have to wait!

The rest of the shop was slightly disappointing. Sure, it had some great tools and useful equipment that I was really happy to pick up, but it just lacks the flash and scale of the Nuneaton shop. I was hoping for more demonstrations more than anything. That said, I am very very excited about the gear I picked up there!
IMG_0954The best piece of kit is that Veritas journeyman’s carving mallet there in the middle. Gleaming brass atop a gorgeously smooth wooden handle, great heft and balance. It’s a pleasure to look at as well as to use! I also grabbed a couple of essentials like the hammer that I’ll use to help attach the metal caps for the bases of my hiking sticks. It’s good to have an alternative tool to strip the bark off the staffs instead of blunting my large flat gouge now too.

The linseed oil should be a good alternative to the Danish oil I currently use for finishing. The first coat on my most recent woodspirit looks great and smells mildly of nothing much at all.
IMG_0957My friend Chris Holmes has set up shop making many kinds of wonderful wooden creations, and came out with a few toys of his own to add to his workshop. He’s a talented craftsman – making everything from beautiful wooden chopping boards, to furniture, to handcrafted kobudo weaponry. He runs a blog over at www.seaholme.net – well worth a view and a bookmark.

Now, for me it’s back to a family film night. Stay classy, bloggers. Cheers, from me and the legendary Pash.

IMG_0908

Stick number four – the next mischievous wood spirit

Another week gone, another stick carved. This time, I’ve created a slightly more subtle facial expression than the others! To challenge myself with carving a more regular expression. It was fun.

I actually remembered to get WIP photos this time;

IMG_0866 I’m liking the strong jawline, a little reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver. Love that woman.

I did a preliminary sketch before starting, less to plan the actual face; more to get a feel for the kind of shape I wanted

IMG_0760 And, drumroll please for the final piece!

IMG_0839 It’s just waiting to get a coat of finishing oil, which deepens the colour and picks out the detail more.

After being ill all week, it’s nice to get a project finished – even got out for a walk in Golden Acre park this afternoon!

It’s lovely out there. Bit chilly, but got to say hey to some rather fine ducks, and found some huge fungus

IMG_0857

IMG_0862
Currently recovering with blog time while watching a terrible-but-actually-pretty-good series on Netflix. It’s too horribly girly – I will never admit to it. You can’t make me!

xx

Special project – Sandy Spoons

So, I’ve been pretty busy lately! With starting a new job on Monday, designing a new series of 3D stick carvings and working on a new woodspirit carving (coming soon!), there’s not been time for much else.

I have found time for some lovely ramblings with my partner and his wonderful mum – even picked up some new materials for crafty projects where some recent wood cutting had gone on!IMG_0736

IMG_0741

IMG_0742

Tonight I took time out for a really special project. My Gran’s birthday is coming up, and it’s always so difficult to know what to give to her. We’re seeing her at the weekend, and I was running out of time to find something. Luckily, I remembered I had my pyrography set to hand! The only question was, what to put a design on? I settled on wooden spoons for the kitchen in the end, and picked up a set of plain spoons from Waitrose in beautiful cuts of beech.

Now, to the design!

Gran has a dog called Sandy, a terrier cross breed who’s a little tyke (but very cute. A little whiffy, but cute!) He’s been the inspiration for the spoon designs.

IMG_0765
I sketched the design on in pencil first. There’s one ridiculously tiny handled spoon in the set, so I’ve made that the “display spoon”. The rest only have pyrography on the handles, so are usable around the kitchen.

IMG_0771 The final pyrographied spoons;

IMG_0786-0

IMG_0784

IMG_0781 I’ll give them to Gran at the weekend – hope she likes them!

Thanks for calling by – catch you next time! As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments 🙂

xx