I just finished another carving of a portrait of Lady Liberty. This time the portrait is from the gorgeous Morgan dollar. I tried some new things with this carving. I tried a new wood, African Mahogany. It’s a beautiful wood but has some problems. The grain has a little too much figure. The figure makes carving with the grain difficult. The grain of figured wood changes constantly.
Fortunately, another thing I tried was ultra high relief. Carving end grain in this wood produces the smoothest surface. When carving ultra high relief you spend much of the time carving end grain. The wood I used was almost 4 inches thick. I was able to carve a full 1/2 of the face. This required much more realism and attention to the true shape of the head.
The final thing I did for the first time was texture the background. I hadn’t planned on doing this but the changing grain made it too difficult to get a smooth background. I took a big 1/2″ bolt and filed a cross hatch pattern in the end of it, then used it as a punch and textured the entire background. This camouflaged any tear out and created a darker background, which made the subject stand out more.
The only time I’ll use African mahogany again is if I do another ultra high relief or full in-the-round carving. If you’d like to try carving this portrait yourself the pattern is available for sale.