Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good friends and fun.

I've enjoyed a several days of good weather and great help as I work to complete the second mural in my local area.  The mural in Toulon, Illinois is going well and we made some great progress today. I have had help from Cornbread (Scott Lindley), Bruce Huff, Shannon Ingles and Katie McCauley.  We've laughed, painted, listened to questionable music and generally enjoyed the process of painting. 
Each day brings us closer to the final image, and I can already see how it's going to look.  I believe the process will actually speed up as we approach the middle and lower portion of the mural, as it is mostly fields and some corn.  I am delighted that the State Bank of Toulon (special thanks to Phil Daum) decided to do this mural and that they selected me to do it. 
If it's not pouring down rain and you have a minute in the next few days...drop by and watch some paint dry!  I'll soon be off the scaffold and painting the lower section.
I think most folks already agree the wall looks far better than it did a few weeks ago!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Having a Great Time, wish you were here!

My first CarveWright class has been a great experience.  The group has been eager to learn and ready to ask questions, which I like very much.  As each person brings their own experiences to the discussion, we each learn a bit more.  It's been a whirlwind.... We've talked about the Designer software, jigs, materials, carving strategy, machine lubrication, machine cleaning, troubleshooting...and so much more. All packed in with much laughter, friendly jabbing and more than a little silliness.

Brad cleans his Azek shield

Today we each took turns designing our own project in the Designer software and talked about depths, texture, multi-piece carves and more.  I allowed each person total freedom in creating their own project.  They were all completely different and have some meaning or represent some interest for them.  We set some of them up to carve over lunch, and quickly completed the others after lunch.  We were soon cleaning was a learning experience to see how different choices impacted how long it took each project to carve and to see what subtle choices did to each project as they went from screen to fully realized piece.

The day was warm, but some folks preferred to work outside on what turned out to be a great day.

Tomorrow we'll wrap up by covering some last tidbits like lithopanes and I'll answer any questions I can concerning the CarveWright or how I use it in my work.  It's been a pleasure to meet new people, get a chance to re-connect with old friends and have a fun weekend talking about the little machine that has been such a close companion the last few years. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


For the last couple of weeks, I've been busy preparing for the first class I'll be teaching on the CarveWright cnc machine.  It's a 3 day course that will focus on how I use the machine to do many different things.  I'll be showing how I build 3D files, make jigs, plan carving, prepare files to carve, and much much more.  I think it's going to be a great time, and I know I'll learn a great deal from those who attend.  I have much to share and hope the experience will be a mild push for those who attend to go make something fun!

In addition, the warm weather means it's finally time to get serious about a couple of large scale projects. One of them is a mural in Toulon, Illinois.  This is a large project. The Mural is approx. 14' x 53'.  I have primed as much as I could with ladders and have now set up scaffolding to take me the rest of the way and to begin the process of putting the drawing on the wall and painting!  I enjoy being in the shop very much, but when the weather is nice and the radio is on..painting a mural is pretty much awesome.  It will take a couple weeks (with the CarveWright class near the beginning).    Today I learned that I can put up 3 sections of scaffold by myself pretty quickly.  Now it's time to finish the priming..and then it will be time to finish the small details for the class.

Just a reminder..this is the small carved version of what this mural will look like:

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere

I'm getting ready to do a very large sign for a local bar.  The overall dimensions are almost 40' x 12'.
I thought a little "study" of one of the elements (cowboy) would be a good idea. Why not paint a pub table? 
A "study" like this can really help identify parts that are particularly challenging and help work out the bugs for colors and makes scaling up that much easier.

I began by projecting the design onto the table top (this poor table has been on my bench for at least 2 months as I've been so busy with other projects).  One of the things I wanted to try was doing an under painting based on some portrait painting material I've been reading.  At first it really felt like the under painting was too dark, but as I progressed, it was fine.  With the right amount of retarder and glaze technique, it began to have some of the translucent quality I like in oil paintings.  Anyway- It was great experience for the big one and lots of fun to paint.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting All Geared Up

In a little over 2 weeks I'll be conducting my first class. This will a 3 day class focusing completely on the CarveWright cnc machine, some of my tips on using it and my techniques for designing projects for it.  I'll also be showing some tips for using other software, jigs to make life easier, and a plethora of other things that will be of value to a CarveWright owner or potential owner.
I plan to keep the atmosphere fun and much of the work hands-on.  The class has been limited to 8 in order to keep one-on-one time very high. 
I have been preparing the informational part of this for months, but now is the time to begin preparing for the kinds of files we'll be creating and samples for the class to play with.  I'll be showing several materials I carve and how they differ when planning and carving the project.  I'll also be creating individual name plaques for each person to put at their table so we can all identify our new friends. 

They say that there is no better way to learn how to do something than to find yourself in the position to have to teach it.  I have become even more familiar with a machine that I thought I already knew pretty well.  I look forward to taking some folks on a little journey into my process. 
I do have an opening left, so if you're thinking about attending, now is the time to sign up!