Repairing, Restoring, Conserving a Federal Mirror

I recently bought a very nice federal period mirror at an antique shop that was desperately in need of some repairs. Atop the mirror sits a hand carved urn and swag. It is a very fragile carving that has deteriorated and has been broken and poorly repaired. Here is a short photo essay showing the steps required to repair and conserve the carving. I have tried to maintain the aging and original patina. Here is what the mirror looked like when I purchased it. Continue reading "Repairing, Restoring, Conserving a Federal Mirror"

Carving a Marine Anchor and Globe Emblem: Finished

I've finally finished the Marine emblem. The finishing part went smoothly, as is usually the case when I am not trying to age or distress the surface. The eagle, continents and rope are covered in 23k gold leaf. The rest is painted with flat, acrylic paint. This creates a strong contrast with the gold. All the colors were chosen to give a lightly aged look without having to do anything else. If you know any marines who would like one, please share this post. If you want to try to carve one yourself, I now have a pattern available.  

Carving a Marine Anchor and Globe Emblem Continued

I have been carving a Marine Anchor and Globe emblem since the beginning of August. The carving part of the project is now done. This is what it looks like in bare wood. It's almost a shame to cover it with paint and gold leaf. I'll post a final photo in a week or two once the the finishing process is done. This was a fun project. I'd love to do another one in walnut or mahogany.

Original Bellamy Eagle Repair / Restoration / Conservation

Last year I got the opportunity to repair three old carved eagles, all belonging to the same collector. Two of the eagles were genuine John Haley Bellamy eagles and one was an old copy. One of the genuine Bellamys was an example of his early work. It gave me a rare chance to study the originals up close, and take them apart. I've seen dozens of genuine Bellamy eagles up close, but this is the first time I got the chance to remove the head. It was interesting, and a great opportunity to closely examine the master's work and techniques. Following are photos of those eagles and their repairs. Continue reading "Original Bellamy Eagle Repair / Restoration / Conservation"

Eagle Mirror Frame. A Great Design by a Customer

Some of my favorite projects are designs created by a customer. It gives me a chance to do something a little different. This one of those instances. Though the design incorporates one of my often carved eagles--a copy of a Boston Carving Company eagle--it is only part of the project. Building the frame was easy. Simple woodworking that I've done many times. The real challenge was the stars, 18 of them. Each one was cut from 3/8" pine. But then I had to carve each one. They are only 1.5" so holding them while during the carving was tough. I ended up using double-sided tape to hold them to my bench. It was time consuming, tedious work. It wouldn't bother me if I didn't have to make another one. Feel free to design come up with your own idea and let me create if for you.

Saber Tooth Lion Skull

I've always wanted a Saber Tooth Lion skull. I don't know why, maybe I'm a little weird, but the first time I saw one in a museum (I think in the Natural History museum in DC) I've wanted one. Real skulls are rare and extremely expensive, but there are companies that make high quality casts from the originals. Trouble is these aren't cheap either. One of these skulls has been on my list of carving projects. Now I don't have to go to the trouble. During a recent trip to Mexico I happened across a very high quality reproduction at a Mayan ruin. Among the cheap crap being sold by the countless pests that follow you where ever you go in Mexico, with the annoying, "Senior, you buy. Cheaper than Walmart. Almost free. How much you pay?" was this beautiful reminder of the times when humans were not at the top of the food chain. After some haggling, I managed to talk the young Mayan entrepreneur into accepting $50--a great buy. Here is what it looked like when I bought it. The skull I first saw in the museum was found at the La Brea tar pits in California. Spending thousands of years immersed in asphalt created a beautiful patina and rich color. I used a combination of dyes and linseed oil to create a look that is very close to the real thing. I had a scrap piece of birdseye maple laying around that was just the right size for a base. I used a water based finish so the color wouldn't change. I like the contrast. Now I have a good model should I ever want to carve one.  

Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 5)

I've finally finished up with a bunch of customer work and had some time to work on my in-the-round eagle. I was planning on carving feathers on the back of the wings and body. But I visited an exhibition of John Bellamy's carvings in Massachusetts over the summer and liked what he did to the back of one of his large eagles. The photo below is my interpretation of his technique. It was quick and easy to do, but I like the effect. Continue reading "Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 5)"

Turning a Cremation Urn

After a busy summer carving for other people I was looking forward to taking a vacation and coming home to work on some of my own projects. My Mexican vacation was great. I left the cold Connecticut weather behind and bathed in the tropical sun and ocean. Unfortunately, while I was away, my father died. He had been sick in the hospital for about six months, so it wasn't a total surprise. Continue reading "Turning a Cremation Urn"