Over-sized Bellamy Eagle

I had a nice piece of wood leftover from a customer job and a couple of free days so I did something I seldom do...I made an eagle for inventory. The blank was an odd size so I decided to enlarge a standard 25" Bellamy. This eagle is 43" long by 8" tall and 5" deep. I originally tried using imitation gold leaf as a finish. I've never tried it, but it is much cheaper, so I figured I'd give it a try and give my customers another choice of finish that was cheaper than real gold leaf. What a disaster. Imitation gold leaf is much thicker than real gold. It didn't stick and made a mess of the eagle. My only option was to paint over it. White is the most common color the original eagles are found in, so it is fitting. It is lightly aged and for sale at $750.
Enlarged Bellamy
Price: $750.00

Two Headed Bellamy Eagle in Mahogany

I like to look through old auction catalogs to see what antiques are selling for and to get ideas for carvings. I was shocked to find a two headed Bellamy eagle that was sold several years ago. It's a weird looking thing but I liked it so I decided to carve one for myself. Instead of painted pine I carved this eagle from mahogany and left it in natural wood. I will have a pattern available for sale soon.  

A Bellamy Eagle for myself

It's not often I get a chance to carve something for myself. After finishing a couple of eagles for a customer I took the time to make something for myself. It doesn't need much of an explanation. Whether you love him or hate him, (and it seems there is no in between) he is relevant. John Haley Bellamy was famous for using his eagles as a billboard for what was current and happening. There isn't a better use for one of his eagles at the moment. Trump likes everything covered in 24k gold, so I obliged him and dressed this one pure gold leaf. If he wins the nomination I may send it to him.

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"

I Transformed a Boring Old Colt Mustang Plus II Into a Custom, One-of-a-Kind Little Beauty

Check out this custom Colt Mustang Plus II.   I bought this gun new in 1988 and carried it for years before retiring it to my safe and replacing it with a .45 ACP. It was a great little pocket pistol, but being a .380, it was considered too under powered for a safe carry gun. It also suffered from poor accuracy due to terrible sights.   The price of used Colts has gotten crazy in the past few years. I think I paid about $300 for the gun new but they are selling used for about $650. Advances in ammunition technology has made the .380 a much more effective defense round than when I carried the little pistol. Pistols chambered in .380 are some of the most popular carry guns right now. All this new interest in these little guns got me looking at my old Mustang again. The gun looked dated now. It needed an upgrade. I've been fiddling with the thing for about a year now. I made a lot of changes both cosmetically and functionally. Here is what it looks like now. Continue reading "I Transformed a Boring Old Colt Mustang Plus II Into a Custom, One-of-a-Kind Little Beauty"

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"

How to fix Air Arms tx200 Cocking Problem

If you own an Air Arms TX200 MKIII and are having a problem cocking it completely, for example, the auto safety is not engaging or the anti bear trap device isn't releasing, there is probably an easy fix. I bought a new TX200 recently and immediately began having problems. Once cocked, I could not get the anti bear trap device to unlock the cocking handle. I would have to hold the cocking lever as far as I could push it an then release the beartrap device and let up on the cocking handle. Also the auto safety wasn't engaging. I searched online and found a lot of similar complaints but only one solution that didn't involve sending the rifle back for repairs. The one solution I found involved taking the trigger assy completely apart and soldering a piece of metal onto one of the trigger parts. That's a job too difficult for all but the most daring do-it-yourselfer. And after looking closely at the rifle and its superb quality and engineering I found it implausible that the Air Arms Trigger would need such altering. Continue reading "How to fix Air Arms tx200 Cocking Problem"

Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 4)

To those who have been following this project, I apologize for taking so long to add more photos of the progress. I have been busy with customer (paying) work and have had little time to work on this eagle. When I had some spare time, or when I was in need of a change I did a little carving but failed to take many photos. So here are the photos I did manage to take. Feathering can be very time consuming depending on the level of detail you go for. The original eagle had very little detail. I wanted a different look so I carved lots of feathers. I've managed to finish rouging out the feathers on the front of the eagle and have just started adding quills and vanes. I'm back to customer work so it will be a while before I can post any more photos. Continue reading "Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 4)"

Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 3)

I started shaping the back of the wings and body, and as you can see, I have roughed out the ball the eagle is standing on. Carving a ball is normally fairly easy. But with an eagle standing on the ball, the job gets much harder. The eagle gets in the way and makes it difficult to both see the outline carve around the feet and tail. The only way to get it right is to work all sides of the ball together, little by little, until it looks right. At the point I don't want to get too fussy with the ball because the feet need to be carved before the ball is finalized. Continue reading "Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 3)"