Monday, July 6, 2009

Of Faces. And Hair. And Hair on Faces.

So, here we are again talking about faces. Faces are endlessly fascinating. Human beings are, for one reason or another, hardwired to see faces in the most simplistic forms, i.e., :). This gives the carver virtually unlimited license in how to do them. And with all that I still find myself qvetsching about stuff I do.

I'm going to show you two similar Santa busts. (I REALLY have to start remembering to take photos during the WHOLE process of carving.) The first is one I did a couple of months ago.

Now, I'm pretty happy with this guy. The eyes are the most stylized part of his face, but they don't look bad.

This Santa, I've just finished. I'm not so happy with his eyes. Unfortunately I didn't see it until I had painted the piece. (That happens more often than I'd like.)

I know exactly why the eyes don't do it for me. They are too low in the face. In most human faces the eye is farther up on the slope of the eye socket so that the lower eyelid extends deeper into the face than the upper. Also the open eye isn't round enough.

I know. Qvetsch, complain, bitch, and moan! It's not perfect, but it's pretty good, overall.

I don't do this to elicit sympathy. "Ach, Bobby, Bobby. 'Tis nae s'bad." (I must be channeling John!) I do it to show other carvers (you, maybe?) that such things are not fatal flaws. I have no doubt that this guy will sell just as fast as the first one did.

But here I would like to get your opinions on the beard. The beard on the first Santa I did with my knife. On the second Santa I textured the beard with a small gouge. Which of the two do you like better? Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

As one last illustration of my inability to see things before they're painted, I offer a mini-mask I did.

The mouth is great. The nose and chin, I'm happy with. I considered this to be the best face I've ever done. Until I started painting in the pupils. One eye is higher than the other. D'oh!

Oh, well. It probably is still the best face I've ever done. So far.

So I hope I've helped some of you to understand that perfection is not required. You can always change it on the next one!

Until next time, let the chips fly!


  1. Ok, I hate to admit it but I think the knife beard is better, ( My opinion) Maybe because of the deep cuts are strong and sharp instead of the softer gouge. Perhaps a vtool could do it the same as the knife. I don't know, I'm alwasy struggling with hair on my own carvings. I have in my mind what I want and somehow they never look exactly as I pictured it. Both are good by the way. It's my vote is of the knife santa even though I use chisels

  2. I like the beard made with a knife better because there is more line variation and the depth of cut is varied. It has more movement. Just my 2 cents. :o)

  3. Hmmn...I think the second one shows more control but the first one spontaneity. So I recon a combination of the two will guarantee perfection.

    ...have I missed the point of your post?:¬)

    Inspired by your mastery of all things wooden I am going to enrol on a carving course. Haven't got the time to teach myself so I thought I'd get some expert input and hopefully get them to do some of the work for me:¬) Look forward to your next post.

  4. I was afraid that "knife" was going to be the consensus. I like it better myself, but . . . . the gouge is just SO much faster. Oh, well. Practice, practice, practice. I WILL get faster. I WILL get faster.